Living By Epictetus

Building a culture is hard in any business but I had a hallelujah moment at our last company offsite when I asked how many of our people were customer facing. Nearly every person in the company (regardless of role) put their hand up. It’s vital that our people understand they are all accountable to the customer. Developers have to understand they impact the client through the services they build, the technology teams availability directly impacts our customers, and every one of our teams interacts with our customers on a daily basis outside of the office.

This view of how you impact your customer regardless of role goes back to President JFK visiting the NASA space center in 1962. He interrupted his tour to speak to a janitor holding a broom “Hi, I’m John Kennedy. What are you doing?”. “Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” To most people, the janitor was cleaning the building but in his view he was helping to make history. No matter how large or small your role, you are part of a larger story unfolding within your life, your business and your organization. So, why didn’t I call this ‘Living like a Janitor’ instead? Well I wanted to focus on how we have managed to change our culture to be one where everyone lives by a customer first view.

We did it through listening and building a feedback culture and an environment which enables our customers to talk to us about how we are doing. This feedback model has been based upon the key touch points we have with our customers, and also with our staff as we look to ensure everyone has a voice and an opportunity to make things better. The journey started with the Ideas platform which was built to collect our customers view of our platform, and vote on new products and features.

We also felt it was important to understand how our customers viewed their journey with us, so we mapped out and re-organised around how our customers used our platform and built customer satisfaction touch points using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric.  Initially when we rolled out NPS two years ago and started at a lowly -15, but our latest wave saw us hit +56, and support and deployment teams are consistently scoring at +75 and above. Capturing the feedback from customers at key touch points enabled us to stop focusing on technology, and move instead to how people are using it.

Once we understood how customers felt, we drove this insight through our improvement plans – we’ve hired a UX designer for key Customer tools and implemented new Status pages, improved community sites, brought in new service management tooling, and by the end of the year a new portal. One area I am extremely proud of is the community site, where we are seeing huge uptake and interaction from Customers and staff. This replaced our ideas platform and follows an approach that allows a truly open opportunity for customers to tell us how they feel.

The important thing here though is that we have started to build a culture where our people care about our customer and feedback on how they feel we are doing as an organisation.  We have implemented the annual b-heard survey, driven up employee enablement through social budgets, enabled an environment where feedback is encouraged, and deployed a platform for staff to log ideas for management action.

At last it feels like we act in synergy with our Customer and we’ll continue to drive improvements to ensure we are not just another faceless cloud provider.