Bad Habits Increase the Gap Between Vision and Value

End Result: A Gap Between Intention and Reality

We leave customers scratching their heads at the gap they senses between what is promised and what they receive.

As customers, we seek value. But survey after survey clearly tell us we fail to deliver. Yes, there are a few heroes who have aligned the people working for the organization and the vision, value and customer experience. Most of us can name the companies who do this as easily as singing out the words of a TV commercial that has been ingrained in our heads. Apple, Google, Southwest Airlines, P&G, Amazon, Coke, Fed Ex, Disney, IBM … we all have our list of companies we admire and advocate.

We also know that most companies we deal with fall short because the employees in these companies fail to deliver the great experience and economic value we rightfully expect.

 Self Destruction

Destructive employee habits stop customer experience dead on its tracks. Instead of delivering superior value, too often the culprit is habitual “business as usual” attitudes – we keep doing the same old things over and over even when they are wrong. Typically employee actions and strategy are not aligned. This helps explain why only 85% of companies consistentl
The disconnect becomes a self-imposed barrier. It stems from ingrained habits that actually destroy the very economic value promised in the advertising. And it is incredibly difficult to change how we act. These destructive actions unknowingly become culture.y grow profitable revenue.

Senior leadership has to recognize the value gap and stop the organization from letting bad habits or culture negatively impact value delivered. Leadership has to inspire everyone to take a good hard look at what is going on and change.

 Rule 1: Look for Bright Spots in Your Organization

The admired companies are bright spots in a sea of mediocrity. A few weeks ago at the 2011 Eloqua Experience, we heard Chip Heath talk about two concepts that help create change when change is hard to accomplish. Recognize first that many facts bandied around the organization are TBU’s (true but useless information). TBU’s stop us from seeing the real issues. Second, Chip says look for bright spots.

It helps to focus your hunt for bright spots on people who are achieving positive outcomes. Look for those that support the organizational vision and strategy and are focused on real outcomes instead of activities. Look for a few people who are doing the right things and encourage others to emulate the bright spots.

Take a look, for instance at IBM where the vision is based on innovation. If the strategy is to grow revenue through product innovation, then look for bright spots who stay riveted on developing and selling new products introduced in recent years. These people would be the leaders of change. Help to spotlight their achievements and how they contribute to customer value and customer experience. Encourage your people to become bright spots. Take a good hard look at people content with supporting the old, less innovative products.

If it is customer experience, then align talents, metrics and compensation around satisfying customers with unique value and consistent delivery against expectations. Cincom has an annual award–The Quixote Award–given to employees who contribute most to delivering value to customers through character, competence and commitment. The winners are Cincom’s bright spots.

Clearly communicate the value of your organizational vision, whether it is innovation as at IBM or creating customer value through process simplification as at Cincom or continuous quality improvement at United Technologies.

What to Do?

Clearly communicate to all employees what makes your business capable of delivering unique value and experience.

Where old habits fail to keep up with vision and strategy, find bright lights that can lead the whole team to deliver value to customers.

Use carrots and sticks to encourage actions that create value.

Break bad habits. Lift up the bright spots in your organization.

Award success.

Miriam Gomberg

I am a customer experience manager in a large retail chain where we are attempting to change the service culture of the business. I recently transferred from Banana Republic where it is very service oriented to Old Navy which is value driven.

The resistance I am finding is not with the associates but the customers themselves. Many of them seem confused by the increased service and don’t react well to the shift in culture. How would you suggest we overcome this resistance to service? Miriam

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