Changing Culture So Everyone Is Facing the Customer

CCA Thought Leadership Report in Partnership with HGS

The report dives into the practical insights and strategies needed to navigate critical areas like better agent motivation and support, streamlined processes to reduce customer frustration, and leveraging data for informed decision-making, thereby achieving CX success and operational efficiency.

Goals and objectives

To succeed in a challenging market, companies should be mindful of their commitments to the environment, society, and their people to resonate more strongly with prospective and current employees.

Organizations that actively engage with and address societal challenges benefit not only from improved reputation and stakeholder relationships, but also from enhanced innovation, risk management, and long-term viability.

By aligning goals and actions with the betterment of society, organizations can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future while reaping various strategic advantages. Equally, priorities around shifting organizational culture and leadership mean businesses need to remodel, reinvent, and repurpose their models of work.

Addressing the biggest pain points in an organization

Customer experience staff often encounter challenging contact with customers and resilience enables them to maintain composure, empathy, and professionalism. The pandemic has brought about numerous changes, including shifts in customer expectations, new service delivery methods, and evolving safety protocols with customer service staff often at the frontline, which has led to increased pressure and demand.

The thought leadership benchmarking research surveyed 78 senior customer experience professionals in May 2023. Beyond initial questions aimed at developing a profile of respondents, details were collected regarding employee engagement and development, the impact of new working models and digital transformation, customer experience challenges, and resilience.

Respondents were also questioned about leadership models and the impact of formal organizational policies on culture such as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) or EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) initiatives.

The survey findings were analyzed and interpreted in a desk research phase alongside contextual information from other sources including CCA’s research archive.

  • 68% of CX professionals report recruitment and attraction of agents as the biggest CX challenge.
  • 58% of companies say agent turnover is their biggest issue.
  • 62% of contact center professionals report flexibility really benefits their organization.
  • 79% of companies report a need to continue developing and building employee resilience.

Read the full CCA report.

Employee development

When employees have access to development opportunities, they can acquire new skills and knowledge that enhance their job performance. They become more efficient, skilled, and competent, leading to increased productivity within the organization.

Employees who feel supported in their professional growth are more likely to stay with the company. By investing in their development, organizations show a commitment to their employees’ long-term success, which fosters loyalty and reduces turnover. Improving and increasing opportunities for professional development has been argued to be a nearly perfect solution to many of the problems facing companies today.

Models of working

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards increased homeworking and for many organizations hybrid models (combining remote work and in-office work) have emerged alongside greater flexibility.

Research has found these new arrangements, especially flexible work arrangements, have challenged traditional relationships with employees and employers, work time and working hours, the work–life balance, and the relationship between individuals and their work.

Agents are often now offered the flexibility to work remotely for part of the week and come into the office for the remaining days. This model allows for a balance between the benefits of remote work and the need for in-person collaboration and supervision.

This creates a huge task for organizations to create, foster, and nurture culture when people are working in multiple places. Effective communication is crucial for maintaining collaboration, alignment, and a sense of belonging among both in-office and remote team members.

To accommodate the changing needs of agents and to improve retention, flexible scheduling models are also being adopted offering part-time or freelance opportunities, allowing agents to choose their working hours within certain parameters. These new models reflect the industry’s adaptation to remote work, technology advancements, and a customer-centric approach.

Watch the webinar to catch the full discussion between HGS and CCA Global about achieving successful CX and operational efficiency.

Building a cohesive and resilient culture

Positive company culture shapes the values, behaviors, attitudes, and overall environment within an organization. When the work environment is supportive, inclusive, and promotes employee well-being, agents are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs. This can result in higher levels of motivation, engagement, and productivity.

With the nature of the flexible working models outlined in the previous section, it has been argued the complex and sensitive responsibility to create constructive cultures will be made even more complicated by people working from everywhere.

A key to addressing the issues this creates is the ability to create a sense of proximity even if working remotely to develop a sense of people feeling close, connected, engaged, and intertwined with each other’s success.

Some workplace benefits are designed to support employees with personal or work-related challenges that may impact their well-being and improve their overall quality of life. They offer a range of resources and services that support employees’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

By providing access to counseling, wellness programs, stress management, and health resources, such interventions show the company cares about employees’ overall well-being. Where employee assistance programs are very successful, they can also bring financial rewards to the organizations.

Strengthening organizational relationships with employees

Companies globally have put new emphasis on diversity – in recruitment strategies, new training, and other mechanisms for lifting marginalized voices. Organizational policies relating to sustainability, equality, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) not only have an important role in how a company is perceived externally but they can also contribute to a positive work environment, employee well-being, and a strong sense of purpose.

When employees feel valued, included, and connected to the organization’s values, it significantly enhances their engagement and commitment. However, there are complexities in instituting effective policies in this area.

There could be major problems with the prioritization and implementation of CSR-related initiatives with almost half reporting they did not believe their CSR programs have sufficient resources and talent to execute their agendas successfully despite understanding the value of CSR programs for their companies.

Within this context, accreditation can promote trust and credibility amongst employees as it shows the organization adheres to specific standards and quality benchmarks. When employees trust their organization meets high standards, they are more likely to feel proud of their affiliation and engage more deeply.


The adoption of remote and hybrid work models required leaders to manage and engage teams in virtual settings. Leaders have had to develop new skills in remote team management, communication, and collaboration to ensure productivity and maintain team cohesion.

With the increased reliance on digital tools and technologies, leaders need to effectively leverage digital platforms for communication, collaboration, and decision-making, as well as guiding others to do so.

This period has also highlighted the importance of prioritizing employee well-being and there is a growing focus on fostering a culture of care and providing resources to help employees cope with stress and uncertainty. Amongst all these challenges it can be hugely complex for good leadership to emerge.

Just as the digital revolution has been a catalyst for omnichannel communication with customers, the same should be true for internal communication with engaging, consistent messaging of critical importance. Empathic leaders, by being genuinely interested in team members’ professional and personal lives, make their teams feel valued, supported, and heard.

Technological transformation

The pandemic and advances in technology have changed many consumers’ preferences from face-to-face to virtual, and while organizations understand the need to create engaging virtual customer experiences, they often do not have sufficient technology and resources to make the transformation.

The stakes are high when it comes to digital transformation. Research has shown outdated legacy technology risks driving frustrated staff out of organizations, in some instances contributing to staffing crises.

Technological transformation is shaping the post-pandemic customer experience with increased digitization of services with online transactions and remote support. Technology has enabled businesses to gather and analyze vast amounts of customer data, allowing for more personalized and targeted experiences.

Key takeaways

As the report has evidenced, building a customer-first culture in customer experience companies involves a combination of leadership commitment, employee engagement, and aligning processes and values with customer needs.

The leadership within organizations should champion the customer-centric vision, emphasizing its importance at all levels by defining a clear vision and set of values that prioritize customers.

Ongoing training to equip employees with the skills to effectively engage with customers to solve their problems and empower them to make decisions to resolve issues promptly and efficiently are also critical interventions.

Building a customer-first culture is an ongoing journey that requires commitment, persistence, and alignment across all levels of the organization and there are clear challenges that need to be addressed.

Read about how HGS’s CX support deepened brand loyalty for the world’s leading coffeehouse chain.

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