Customer-centric behaviours for the future – Values-based decision making

by Marty Nicholas

Recently, the importance of having a frontline team that is equipped to navigate complex scenarios with a strong ethical compass has come to the fore across a number of industries. Sales incentives schemes and inappropriate selling behaviours not based on customer needs have drawn negative attention, particularly in the financial services industry. Since risk and compliance guidelines aren’t able to pre-empt every possible scenario that may pop up, how do you embed values-based decision making in your customer-facing teams?

The obvious solve for this is that it’s up to leaders to role model expected behaviours and provide direction for making decisions in an ethical manner based upon values, on a case-by-case basis. Setting a culture of accountability from the top on this issue will then require the frontline to step up and appropriately advocate for the customer’s best interests internally, while also acting within regulatory and company requirements at all times.

Ultimately, values-based decision making is about having the skill to look beyond formal compliance policies and question whether something is ‘right to do’, even if it is not currently prohibited. Across our work with clients, there are two key behaviours Blackdot has observed leading frontline teams to exhibit when demonstrating values-based decision making. These are:

1. Advocating for the customer’s best interests and behaving ethically

We are often told that companies will only succeed when they successfully meet customer needs, however it has become apparent in recent times that without a culture underpinned by strong ethical disciplines, certain individuals within organisations may seek to deceive their customers about these needs. It is therefore important for the frontline to advocate for the customer’s best interests internally, representing the ‘Voice of the Customer’ to the business – in other words, their expectations and preferences.

Effective frontline teams consistently role model organisational values, particularly in the face of ambiguity, conflict and challenge, and consistently apply sound decision making which balances the interests of both the customer and the organisation, even if there is no clear-cut answer.

2. Complying with regulatory and company requirements

Technological advances have brought access to more products, services and information, but with this evolution has come new challenges, including privacy concerns, which by nature often leads to blurred lines between what is technically legal versus ethical. This has led to heightened regulatory and company requirements across organisations as they try to keep pace with the rate of technological advancements and the potential customer exposure it brings.

In this new environment, it is vital that the frontline understands all key regulatory requirements in relation to customer interactions, ensuring they’re able to act accordingly.

What’s next?

The shift from a traditional sales culture to one supporting the entire breadth of the customer journey in an ethical manner means that regulation and internal compliance cannot possibly cover every situation that frontline teams may need to navigate. This therefore requires a solid investment in upskilling the frontline with the behaviours above, ensuring they are able to confidently balance the interests of the customer and the organisation while complying with regulatory and company requirements.
This was the seventh and final post in our blog series, The 7 Key Customer-Centric Behaviours. Our previous blogs explored topics including Data & Digital Literacy – translating data into relevant insights and executing on these insights in a meaningful way, Dynamic Prioritisation – the shift from sequential working to prioritising tasks to where most value lies and Customer Experience Optimisation – adding strategic value at pivotal points in a customer’s journey to build deeper relationships and add long-term value.

We’ve unearthed these seven key customer-centric behaviours for frontline teams in our work helping organisations transform their people to better support digital go-to-market models. We have found that these behaviours are critical for frontline teams to equip themselves with when operating in the context of a digitally empowered, customer-led environment.

For a greater understanding on transforming mindsets and capabilities, download our whitepaper here.