Several years ago my wife diplomatically pointed out that I was getting a bit heavy. The section of my wardrobe filled with clothes that were, shall we say a little bit “pinchy”, seemed to agree with her – especially my favourite jeans! Then crawling underneath a customer’s desk to plug in my laptop, the rending sound of my trousers splitting provided the final impetus to do something!
And so I decided to get fitter and lose some weight. Thinking about the steps I went through to change my behaviour, I was struck that there are some parallels between my journey to lose a few pounds and the steps we can take to drive a business behaviour change – how we behave in our customer interactions for example.
#1. Business behaviour change needs a trigger – be clear on why.
In my case, it was the wardrobe malfunction (or more specifically a desire to avoid them in future). For your business to grow, perhaps you have recognised that you need to behave differently with your customers. Perhaps what delighted your customers yesterday, is expected as standard today, and the feedback you have been getting seems to be trending in the wrong direction. Reversing that trend could be your trigger, your reason why.
#2. Make a start, take the first steps.
Starting something is usually the hardest part. My wonderful wife pointed out that there was a “boot camp” running weekly, just metres from home. But it still took me to decide to take the first step. What harm in trying it once I thought? What does “great” look like for your customer interactions? Is there a simple, first concrete step that you can take to affect the way your team behaves with your customers? For the NHS the “Hello my name is” campaign gave staff a concrete first step, to always introduce themselves to their customers – i.e. patients.
#3. Link business behaviour change to your goals and strategy.
For me, my goal was to lose several kilos in 9 months. My strategy was to exercise three times per week and eat better options during the week. Perhaps for you, it is to move up one star with Trust Pilot within 1 year and therefore to identify the key things you will need to do in every customer interaction to achieve that shift.
#4. Make the rational and emotional case for business behaviour change.
Starting behaviour change and more importantly, maintaining it, needs to connect the rational with the emotional. There are a lot of rational reasons to get fitter. But emotionally I recognised that losing the gut could protect me from being traded in for a younger model! Are your customers thinking about trading you in? How can you make the emotional case for change with your team, to behave differently? How will they feel when your customers are more satisfied?
#5. Nudge behaviours and make change easy.
Making something stick is a combination of nudging behaviour in the right direction and making it easy to make good choices and act in the desired way (see the book Nudge). In my house, the deep fat fryer has gone in the garage. It’s been replaced with a Nutriwizzer 3000 which is accessible, it is visible and therefore it gets used. There are spinach splashes on the ceiling to prove it. Once you have defined the key behaviours you need to see in all your customer interactions, how are you making it easy for your team to stay “on message”? Do you use decision trees or other “job aids” to nudge their behaviour for example?
If some of your business results aren’t quite where they should be, or you are experiencing challenges that are affecting your customer experience, then take a look at how you are behaving in your interactions. Take a walk in their shoes (but try not to split your trousers)!
What approaches have you seen for business behaviour change? What have you learnt from your personal experiences? I would love to hear about your “split trousers moment”! And if you need some help changing behaviours in your business, don’t hesitate to contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org.