5 tips to bring the Customer into your Offsite
While reading the article ‘6 tips for running offsites that aren’t a waste of time’ by Melissa Raffoni , I thought of the many offsites I have been a participant of. And those that I was hired to deliver a Customer Experience workshop or play the CX game. With my experience I thought it would be valuable, to give you five tips to bring the customer into your offsite. To create customer awareness and hopefully a customer experience action plan.
TIP 1: LISTEN TO CUSTOMER CALS
This is so effective and can be done in several ways, I give two suggestions:
- You can all listen together in the offsite to these calls. While everybody takes notes individually, the next steps is that a facilitator collects the insights. The participants also mention the feeling they get while listening. Are they happy, does it make them sad? What is remarkable? Is this the way they want the calls to be? The most important thing is to stay away from operations, but to see the underlying reasons why the calls, are what they are. To really focus on what the participants of the offsite can do, to improve the situation.
- Give all participants an MP3 file to listen to as Prework. Make sure they plan at least the time to listen to the MP3 plus a half hour, to list their insights. It always helps to send a word or pdf file with questions you want them to answer, with regards to these calls. So all participants are guided and bring that Prework along to the offsite. A round of emotions is always a good start for the discussion and next steps to identify as leaders
TIP 2: INVITE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE OR CUSTOMER SERVICE LEADER
This can be a little bit reactive, but when the organization is used to visitors of the business in their offsite, this is a good and safe idea. Ask the leader of the customer experience or service team to facilitate a workshop or give a presentation on the state of Customer Experience. I prefer to make the session interactive, so ask for work formats that engage and involve everybody. Ideas to make it interactive are: Dilemma’s and their thoughts, Challenging ideas and ask for feedback, Do a customer quiz, Create ideas around the voice of the customer, or Designing a KPI infographic and get everybody drawing. Make sure the presentation and work formats align with the objective of the offsite.
TIP 3: GO ON A CUSTOMER SAFARI
A real fun idea but this one involves a lot of planning. You could ask the participants to visit a customer in their own habitat. That could be a B2B customer in their business or a B2C customer at home or the environment they use your products/services. Make sure in either way, that these visits are perfectly organized. You can ask the participant to take charge of the visit themselves (when they visit the customer as a preparation) or the host of the offsite organizes the visits and makes sure the participants arrive at the moment the customers expect them. When you are a B2C organization and you have many customers they can meet in the street. It is very exciting (and be aware, for many people frightening) to go out on the street and ask questions. To just show up, open up and see who they can meet.
In all situations, it is most important that leaders are prepared well. What do you expect them to do, what questions to ask and what to take back as output. This output is your input for next steps. Make sure everybody takes pictures, because these are brilliant for internal communication.
TIP 4: PLAY THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE GAME
This is a safe strategy to bring the customer into your offsite. Interactive and fun, everybody participates and is involved. You hire an experienced facilitator that prepares the session, into detail, during the offsite. Normally, the preparation call is max one hour. Make sure you plan about three hours, during the offsite, to play the game and create a customer experience action plan. It is important to know the objective of the offsite, so you can share these with the external facilitator.
The facilitators are professionals and have played the CX Game before. A brilliant opportunity is that the facilitator can challenge more easily because of their external position. This give sharpness and just that edge, that offsites need. Since people love playing games, this is a perfect way to bring the customer into the offsite in a light and funny but seriously business way.
TIP 5: INVITE THE CUSTOMER TO THE OFFSITE
This is an exciting one and requires good planning. But let’s be honest. It is so effective. You can invite one customer, or maybe even host a customer arena. Make sure that all participants are well prepared. That they know what is expected of them. How to listen, how not to explain company processes or go into a defensive state. Because that is absolutely forbidden.
Often customer sessions have two phases. First the facilitator sets the scene and asks prepared questions. In the second phase the participants ask questions themselves. Also make sure that you invite customers that are representative for the situation. Not only the happy-clappy ones, but also those that are experiencing difficult processes and maybe even complain. Invite those that are honest and open.
RESULT: BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF CX IN YOUR COMPANY
In all cases, the participants of the offsite will have a better understanding of the state of customer experience in the company. Probably they have gotten a sense of urgency and if you facilitate the offsite well, an action plan is created what to do next.
Know that if you invite customers or have been on a customer safari, it is important to communicate to the customers, what you will do with their feedback. If you have problems to solve, solve them. And communicate back. In customer experience terms: Make sure a feedback loop is in place and action is taken. This is a perfect show case to make sure leaders take action on customers input.
Inviting the customer in one of these five ways is also big opportunity to create content for internal communication, for example your intranet. To share the stories, pictures, lessons learned and video’s of these interactions and create movement in the company and inspire others to take customer focused action.
If you have other suggestions to bring the customer into offsites, feel free to comment!
** Nienke Bloem is an expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as Keynote Speaker, teacher of the 2 day CX Masterclass to prepare you for the CCXP exam and she is co-founder of the Customer Experience Gme. Do you want to read her blogs or learn more about her? Visit her website or subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz. **
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