The inner loop is composed of business actions taken in response to feedback from individual customers. In this blog, we will explore the organizational practices and commitment required to keep the inner loop going.
We know that success in the inner loop depends on analyzing and acting on customer data; doing quality follow up with customers; ensuring that effective coaching and frequent team huddles occur; taking action on quick fixes and finally, escalating improvement ideas that require cross-functional collaboration. These are the nuts and bolts. But what do some leaders do to accelerate change – and sustain it – while others see only minimal improvement? Besides having a reliable customer metric with verbatim comments tied to operational data (the inner loop is data-driven after all), the following critical factors are what ensure that changes in behavior are productive and enduring.
Ensure you are truly supported, and that you support others – confirm you have buy-in from the top and empower your own team to make changes. Effective sponsorship is a predictor of success or failure in the inner loop and it is critical that your team knows they have your unwavering support. In turn, don’t hesitate to ask for the following from your leader/sponsor: a) their active and visible participation as you introduce and follow through on key changes and b) their help in building the necessary coalitions among peers to drive adoption.
Model the new mindset – which is listening, learning and fixing the problem, rather than focusing on why the problem exists. Demonstrate that you are willing to change processes in your department, and influence other departments to change the way they do things. To be an effective leader among your peers, align on shared responsibilities and implement a meeting cadence to reinforce prioritization and decision making.
Constant sharing and communication, framed in a positive way – signal that WE ARE CHANGING THE WAY WE DO THINGS in order to improve; frequently share customer comments good and bad, and communication from senior leaders about becoming a customer-centric organization; talk about and reward those who have demonstrated a customer focus at town halls and key meetings; and make an event of the inner loop launch! Above all, keep in mind the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for each employee group and actively address it in key messages.
Obsessively focus on identifying quick fixes to the most painful customer issues, and irritants that affect a broad base of customers. Do not wait for bigger solutions. Celebrate each and every fix, loud and proud! To keep up the momentum and encourage employees to really dig into the details, make sure there is ongoing training (above the norm for their role) to elevate their ability to make an impact. Training topics could include how to glean insights from customer feedback data, soft skills around closing the loop with customers, effective service recovery processes, etc.
Track actions and impact and remove roadblocks whenever you can. Do not focus on the score or metric, but review and continuously monitor the data and the execution so that you can see what’s working and what’s not. Very important – there should be shared accountability for this across the team, not centered on you or one key individual.
Be methodical and transparent about how issues are prioritized for escalation to leadership, and be ready to influence and support other teams’ inner loop issues. This will provide wider support for fixes overall and help ease escalation pressure.
CX Champions are enablers of CX transformation, and they are often accountable for one or more inner loops. But getting started with CX transformation means building capabilities and passionately driving new ways of working – and that takes a lot of initiative.
As a CX leader, it’s fair to say that to maximize your chances of success in your CX initiatives, you need to be in a position of authority within your team, but also be experienced in the function. You need to have access to resources and have the ability to suggest changes to rules and processes. Starting with this solid footing will enable you to educate and enable your teams, and really generate enthusiasm for the new world of customer centricity you are easing them into.