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Left Brain, Right Brain: Aligning Internal Culture and Customer Analytics

A version of this post was featured by influential Customer Experience speaker and teacher Shep Hyken as a guest blog in August 2016. See it here.

Data inspires confidence because it serves as a rational, objective bottom line that provides order and structure to the customer experience. It appeals to the logical, pattern-oriented left brain, involved in making decisions that shape the customer experience. But customer analytics have more to tell you than scores alone. By reading between the lines, the shape of your company’s internal culture can emerge.

billiard balls in alignment, representing alignment of a company's internal cultureWhy is internal culture relevant?

Think of data as representing the ongoing feedback loop between a company’s internal culture and its customers. This loop runs smoothly when the culture is well aligned with the customers’ needs, wants, and expectations. A productive, motivated, well-informed staff produces satisfied customers, and vice versa.

If the culture is misaligned, though – if priorities are skewed, if there is distrust between leadership and employees, if there are significant obstacles to cooperation across departments, if employees don’t feel valued and morale is low – the impact on customer service is direct and immediate. Inefficient processes, gaps in information and communication, and employees who are just ‘going through the motions’ are all symptoms of a unhealthy internal culture that needs attention.

Customers tend not to tolerate these symptoms for long. Remember, a single negative interaction with your business can sour a customer’s opinion and undo a long history of positive interactions in a matter of minutes. Studies have shown that negative experiences have more staying power than positive ones; not only are people more likely to remember them, they are more likely to tell others about them, too. Social media has given customers a megaphone for complaints that they might otherwise just have grumbled about under their breath.

If data represents the left brain, culture represents the right brain.

Together, these elements form the foundation of customer experience management.

Customer analytics, used appropriately, can be the healing salve for a broken internal culture. By examining the trends, gaps, and other insights captured within the data, all employees, from upper management down to the individual customer service representatives, get a clear sense of the goals they are working toward as a team and what they can do to affect positive change.

This requires a degree of transparency between those who have access to the data and who make decisions, and those who carry out those decisions in their daily interactions with customers. A stern top-down directive given without context or reason is easily ignored or deprioritized, while one that is presented as a productive initiative backed by solid information is more motivating and harder to argue with.

Of course, transparency must go both ways if the staff is to work as a team. Employees at all levels of the company should feel empowered to ask questions, make suggestions, or otherwise participate in the shaping of the culture, and not just be beholden to policies. By valuing the voice of your employees, especially those who are in the position to directly interact with customers, you create an internal culture that nourishes the customer experience – and the data is bound to reflect that.

As a right-brain, intuitive element of the customer experience, cultural alignment can be felt as much as observed. Take this opportunity to do a “gut check” about the culture in your office and within the enterprise as a whole. Do you notice any symptoms? Have they emerged recently, or have they persisted, unattended, for some time? Do you feel empowered to do anything about them?

And remember, whether you need a complete diagnosis, a check-up, or an emergency treatment, CSP is always on call.




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