Behaviour management for customer experience

behaviour management

Behaviour management for customer experience

Behaviour management for customer experience

Behaviour management – getting your team to demonstrate the positive behaviours that lead to a superior customer experience – is one of the most challenging aspects of any CX initiative.

Just as views on – and approaches to – performance management vary generally, so do organisational approaches to managing desired customer-facing behaviours.

CX Training sees the challenge of managing CX behaviours as a positive, proactive discipline, potentially encompassing initiatives in relation to:

  • clear expectations
  • measurement and feedback
  • organisational and team culture
  • leadership
  • skills development
  • systems and processes
  • support
  • motivation


From the above, however, organisations increasing focus on either primarily a behaviour-management approach or a mindset-based approach, to enhancing the customer experience.


Behaviour management approach

The behaviour management approach seeks to define specific desired behaviours – and then to directly monitor and encourage/enforce the specific behaviours.

Such behaviours might include:

  • asking specific questions
  • using specific language
  • using specific rapport building approaches
  • clear direction and boundaries on what to do, and what not to do, in certain situations


It is the highly-managed (micro-managed?) approach to developing consistent behaviour – and can work well with people who are comfortable with defined processes and high levels of direction. It focuses on skill development, gives staff certainty, gives customers consistency and is most evident in call centres and similar environments.

This approach has become more commonplace as CX has become a serious discipline; customer journey mapping, experience design and process re-engineering have led to the requirement for people at the coalface to deliver specific, consistent behaviours.

There are just a few downsides, though:

  • customers often don’t like speaking to a highly directed robot
  • the minimal autonomy limits the scope for genuine accountability
  • the lack of flexibility and autonomy allowed may limit the scope for genuine rapport, trust or added value
  • your staff don’t like being treated as robots: they want the autonomy to really engage and deliver on the customer’s specific needs
  • the strict behavioural demands lead to a compliance mindset where the need to demonstrate specific behaviours and the fear of criticism crowd out the scope for genuine customer-centricity.


The mindset-based approach

The mindset-based approach to behaviour management takes a different tack: it moves away from prescribing specific behaviours and instead focuses on developing a customer-centric mindset, an ability to better assess customer priorities – and the autonomy to respond to specific situations to deliver maximum customer value. This more autonomous approach builds accountability and allows for more genuine rapport, trust and the opportunity to deliver added or unexpected value.

This approach can work well with people who already have good communication skills, and possibly some experience and confidence with customers, but it certainly shouldn’t be seen as the easier, lighter option. Just because people have the skills, doesn’t mean they can be relied upon to demonstrate desired behaviours.  The more autonomy you give people, the more they are prey to mindset challenges such as:

  • limiting beliefs or low confidence
  • personal task preferences and aversion
  • low-risk self-preservation and self-orientation generally
  • technical mindset or compliance mindset overriding any customer-centric mindset
  • excuses and low accountability
  • personal beliefs and value judgments about the value or effectiveness of different approaches
  • dubious self-justification in relation to existing preferred behaviours


Given the above, there is a much greater emphasis on factors such as culture, leadership, support and the delivery of customer feedback in order to build genuine customer-centric mindsets and attitudes. This approach also demands more of managers and team leaders in that they need to become coaches more than managers: they need to coach people through any of the above mindset challenges to change core beliefs that people might have around themselves, their role or the customer experience.


So, which approach is best?

Although most customer experience programs include elements of both approaches, either individual management styles and/or organisational priorities will likely lead to an approach that leans one way rather than the other.  Both approaches can work – as can recruiting a bunch of highly skilled, emotionally intelligent and customer-centric people – but a laissez-faire approach rarely brings the desired results. CX Training has found that as  skill-levels and experience-levels rise, so do demands for autonomy and the potential for mindset-challenges. Professionals for instance are not only highly self-directing, they also have deep beliefs around their existing behaviours and will defend and justify these to themselves and others.

Your optimum approach is likely to abe informed by:

  • existing organisational culture, leadership styles and performance management frameworks
  • skill levels and experience
  • how important consistent customer-facing behaviour are to the brand; and
  • how closely defined and process-mapped the customer journey is.



CX Training is a Brisbane-based provider of tailored in-house training in customer experience, customer service, sales, pricing and customer conflict.