Customer experience culture starts with hiring: CX Mini Masterclass – E37

By April 25, 2019 December 20th, 2019 No Comments
This CX Mini Masterclass explains how an organization’s recruiting practices set the stage for its customer experience culture. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, shares ideas and practical tips on how to align your organization’s hiring practices to its CX strategy. If you’ve been pulling hard on that employee training lever and aren’t seeing the results that you want to see in terms of culture change, this episode is for you.




Not just a strategy for tough times

For the month of April, my mini masterclasses have been be exploring ideas and best practices for delivering great customer experience, even amid a challenging business environment. When the going gets tough, it’s natural for organizations to look for places they can trim back on their expenses to defend the bottom line. Unfortunately, I often see things like employee engagement on the chopping block. Obviously, as CX professionals, we need to help leaders understand that these types of cuts might jeopardize the success of future CX strategies. If you lose that argument and need to look for ways to bolster your customer-centric culture without incurring additional costs, then I suggest reviewing how your organization’s hiring practices align to its CX objectives.

In reality, this type of culture alignment shouldn’t need to wait for a time when the business climate is challenging and budgets are under pressure, but I’ve chosen to feature it here, because it’s something that – if you haven’t done it already – can be an intervention taken when budgets are tight.


Forget training, customer experience culture starts with hiring

The alignment of HR practices to CX strategy is the foundation of customer experience culture. You can’t foster and authentically customer-centric culture if your HR strategy is at odds with your CX strategy. These two must be aligned, and supported by things like who and how you recruit new team members.

In my opinion, this particular step is even more vital to your customer experience culture than ongoing training. Why? Well, because if you get people with the right attitudes into your business in the first place, you don’t need to spend as much energy on things like soft skills training and mindset change. That’s not to say that training and employee engagement don’t play an important role, especially for fostering culture alignment among employees who were hired before your organization set out on its customer-centric journey. What I’m saying is that fostering your desired customer experience culture is infinitely easier if you start out with people who are already inclined to this.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s relatively easy to teach someone a new skill. Teaching someone to empathize or care is a totally different kettle of fish.


How to align recruiting and CX

Aligning your hiring practices to your customer experience strategy boils down to three main things:


  1. Ensure that role descriptions include the skills, behaviors and expectations that tie back to your customer experience strategy. Ideally each department in your organizations should have some CX related KPIs and goals, which can be cascaded down to team and individual level. Once there is a clear line between every team or department and your organization’s customer-centric goals, it shouldn’t be difficult to bake these into the role description and job postings.
  2. Make sure that you screen for culture and values fit. In my interview with Desirree Madison-Biggs, the head of CX at Airbnb, we spoke at length about how they have successfully fostered a customer experience culture. She emphasized their values screening interviews as an important step for making sure they get people with the right mindset joining their team, and you can do the same for your organization. If you haven’t already done this, start by connecting the dots between vision,/mission/purpose and customer-centric behaviors. Once you’ve defined this, then you can add something like a situational interview to help screen candidates for values fit. Remember, it’s much easier to teach someone a new skill than to overhaul a mindset.
  3. Make sure that your recruiting experience are reflective of your brand values or experience principles. Candidates are consumers too. Perhaps the person being considered for a role is actually a customer or a prospective customer. Regardless of whether or not they join your organization, consider how the experience might impact their relationship with the brand. The last thing you want to do is turn someone into a vocal detractor. Carefully consider how the hiring team can emanate the brand values, regardless of the outcome.


Cross-functional collaboration for customer experience culture

It takes time to align an organization’s hiring practices to its CX goals. As customer experience practitioners, we need to be cross-functional in everything that we do. That means engaging teams like HR to be our collaborative partners as we foster organizational customer-centricity and a customer experience culture.

For inspiration on how to engage with HR and other teams, I’d highly suggest checking out Episode 3, which features my interview with Desirree from Airbnb. I’d also recommend Episode 21, which includes insights from Marnitz Van Heerden of Hollard Insurance. In our interview, Marnitz speaks about how he’s engaged stakeholders across his organization to the extent that they’ve been able to move from a centralized CX approach to managing customer experience through a federated model (where CX is effectively owned by each of the different business teams).


Want to keep learning about CX?

If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.

And if you are looking to super-charge your CX skills and continue learning, be sure to check out CX University. They have a great array of CXPA accredited training resources available on a flexible monthly subscription plan. Use the code PODCAST10 to get 10% off your first month’s subscription and support this podcast.

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including employee engagement, leadership alignment and CX culture change) or get in touch via email


Julia Ahlfeldt

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