"To live, man must act; to act, he must make decisions; to make decisions, he must define a code of values; to define a code of values, he must know what it is and where it is". The quote that accompanies us on this occasion is from the Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, known in certain business management circles for her novel "The Atlas Rebellion", written between 1946 and 1954.

Rand's reflection is timely at a time like the present, when the "new normal" has turned upside down a large part of the management systems that were already proving to be outdated, and which, thanks to the digital acceleration favoured by the anti-COVID measures, have ended up proving to be incapable of dealing with the activity in this new stage.

One of those changes that has been gaining more and more ground, and that we at BRAINTRUST have always identified precisely with digital disruption, is that of Customer Experience. A true CX that contemplates all aspects of its participation as a transversal element in the life of a company today, requires defining a code of values. To be able to make decisions, to be able to act, and to be able to live, following the line of thought of the author of "The Atlas Rebellion". And it also requires knowing who you are and where you are, especially at a time like the present in which upheavals lead customers, more than ever, to demand exemplary behaviour from the companies to which they entrust their resources.

A comprehensive Customer Experience is made up of variables that have more to do with the intangible elements of a firm than with its more traditional, watertight sections. This has been well identified in a recent publication by independent expert Jeannie Walters, in an analysis of "the four C's" that every company needs to consider itself truly customer-centric. The mantra of "customer first" is one of the most repeated objectives of today's companies, but that does not mean that they have really adapted their genetic code to the needs of such a thing.

The first of these four Cs is the one most directly related to the idea of a "code of values", and that is because it is about corporate "conscience", which the expert identifies as a "challenge" whose absence is missing in many organisations. Especially in those where "employees are asked to make decisions and submit to policies that are outdated, unfair or not aligned with the organisation's vision, mission and values". The result is that the brand promises one thing but delivers something else. And so, irreversible damage is done to the Customer Experience.

More than "strong", a collective conscience must be "clear", and this is achieved by defining the "CX mission", which must make sense outside the corporate mission statement. In addition, it is necessary to identify the "ideal customer journey" (the journey map that is so often talked about), and we must prioritise the objective of making every effort to really get to know the customer, even if we do not like what we find there.

All this awareness is of little use if it is not accompanied by another big C, that of Communication. The limited vision of this intangible is the projection of marketing policies and advertising actions with the idea of attracting the market. And no: it is a firm commitment to honest and continuous communication around the mission, which encourages employees to identify the failures of the corporate system and stimulates the customer to also identify the most criticisable aspects of the organisation. To the extent that these identifications (employees and customers) are the real guidelines to be followed in the company's internal communication.

As a result of a clear and well-communicated Consciousness, none of the above is viable without the third C: Coherence. "Brands that reflect a mission from outside the organisation have to live it from within," says Walters. "If they don't, if employees' day-to-day experiences feel misaligned with the company's customer experience mission, the result is a cynical culture and poor results overall.

In other words, it is not viable for a company to promote an image of friendliness and collaboration with its customers, and within the company to foster a culture of backstabbing. "An unhealthy internal culture cannot hide from customers forever. They pick up on it and realise that the experience is not consistent".

Finally, the fourth C is Credibility. And here it can be expressed more loudly but not more clearly: "Talk is cheap". In other words: less talking more doing. In other words: less talking and more doing. This means not being afraid to ask the customer directly, to incorporate customer feedback into project plans and product roadmaps, to encourage and recognise employees' customer-focused ideas, and even to reward those employees who get top marks from customers.

These are four pillars for moving in the uncertain terrain into which the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged us, as well as the provisions linked to the "new normal". But also four elements to build a viable code of values, aligned with a Customer Experience that had been calling for a breakthrough long before the outbreak of the health alert, and which today more than ever claims its place as a decisive element in the success or failure of companies.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash