26 | Developing Leaders Issue 31: 2019 Viewpoint All HR practices need to reinforce the brand purpose and standards if a customer-led culture is to result. We can all think of organizations that seem to exist only to make life easy for themselves, rather than for their customers. In protected markets, such as banking in many countries, and in non-competitive public services, these are all too common, but in free markets they cannot survive unchanged. Cranfield research consistently shows that organizations with a clear purpose and that also engage all their employees in creating value for their customers have higher levels of customer satisfaction. Employees who are clear about customer expectations and who are equipped and engaged will be willing to do more, and crucially will focus more precisely on what is important. First, recruitment must ensure that applicants whose personality naturally fits these standards are encouraged, and that those with the wrong fit have an early opportunity to opt out themselves. Disney structures its recruitment advertising explicitly to showcase customer expectations. Metro Bank overtly appeals to applicants with a customer service ethos. The challenger bank recruits to stores not branches “because we want them to think like retailers”, and if “you don’t smile during the first job interview, you’re out”. Secondly, the brand purpose and standards need to be internalised in both initial induction and all subsequent learning and development activities. Many customer experience leaders use role-play for this, helping people develop their improvisational skills while still adhering to the standards. First Direct develops its staff by listening in on a portion of calls, as is common with call centres. Not so common, though, is that the staff are judged qualitatively on “First Directness”: the extent to which employees live up to the firm’s six brand values such as respect, responsiveness and openness. Thirdly, internal communication needs to reinforce and bring to life the brand purpose and standards. All too often, communication focuses only on financial results, rather than framing these results as the product of how well we create value for customers.