Why you should build diversity and inclusion into customer experience

Why you should build diversity and inclusion into customer experience- Think Wow

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Over the past few years, diversity and inclusion has become a topic in many workplaces, with initiatives to increase the level of diversity at hiring stage, and increased expectations on employers to make reasonable adjustments to create a more inclusive workplace in general. Progress has been made, but there’s definitely still a lot of work to be done…

What can you do as a customer experience leadership team to drive increased diversity in your organisation for your customers and your colleagues?

If you want to have a truly diverse and inclusive organisation providing for a diverse customer base, it’s not simply enough to tick a few boxes or hire more BAME employees. D&I considerations need to be interwoven into every single process from the start, from your approach to customer focus groups and journey mapping, all the way to your employee experience.

It’s not just the morally right thing to do to reflect the makeup of society in your workforce, it’s the sensible thing to do from a business perspective.

How is diversity and inclusion related to customer experience- Think Wow

How is diversity and inclusion related to customer experience?

Data indicates that more diverse teams lead to:

  • Increased creativity and innovation.
  • Enhanced problem-solving and decision making.
  • Strengthened skill sets.
  • Boosted profits and revenue.
  • Heightened employee engagement.
  • Improved company reputation.
  • Strengthened team morale.

There are two key areas where customer experience can be more inclusive:

  1. Your customer experience itself – You need to ensure it caters for a diverse customer base, that it’s accessible to a wide range of individuals and that there aren’t any obvious barriers that could make your CX / customer journey less inclusive.
  2. The second is to ensure that any internal customer experiences, between one department and another where there is a service relationship, are inclusive. An example of this would be from an HR department to the wider organisation, or an IT service desk out to the rest of the business.

The great news is that you can build D&I considerations into any CX activities if you decide to do so, as long as you build them in from the beginning and not as an afterthought or ‘tick box’ exercise when you’re finished.

This includes creating a psychologically safe space for customer and employee interviews and focus groups, ensuring the questions you select include accessibility and help identify barriers, having a dedicated swim lane in all journey mapping to capture D&I considerations, and perhaps having D&I as a customer experience design principle guiding your entire project.

Giving participants and project team members the chance to request reasonable adjustments will help ensure an equitable experience too.

Examples of marginalised populations include, but are not limited to, groups excluded due to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, language, and/or immigration status.

If you aren’t confident that you know how to cater for the needs of a diverse workforce or customer base, there are D&I specialists who can advise and support you in achieving your D&I goals.

Don’t forget, the purpose of customer experience as a discipline is to ensure that the customer journey we create genuinely meets the needs of our customer – we can’t do that if we only cater to one section of society.

Creating customer experiences that are more inclusive is about taking the customer experience back to a human level. Diversity and inclusion when it comes to CX is all about looking at multiple perspectives, and creating journeys that meet the needs of a diverse customer base.

Can it be measured?

In a word – yes. But, how you measure it will depend on the data available to you, what is currently tracked within your organisation, and how you approach your CX strategy.

For example, if you are currently record which of your employees have protected characteristics, then by working with your HR teams you should be able to ensure that when interviewing internal staff members you capture the needs of different backgrounds and the various perspectives of a diverse workforce (by ensuring you interview a representational pool of colleagues when looking at the process).

It’s crucial that whilst you create experiences that serve as many people as possible and that there aren’t blockers that exclude any one group or any individuals within your organisation. This won’t happen unless you deliberately encourage a variety of perspectives in your research stages.

Alongside the makeup of any survey pools or interview panels, it’s also important to look at the less obvious metrics such as employee retention. For example, whether there is a disproportionately low rate of retention in marginalised groups.

You can set targets for workforce inclusion activities, actively encourage positive multicultural interactions and aim to remove barriers to diversity – but the crucial thing for any metric is that it’s developed in partnership with those employees who could feel marginalised and helps to achieve the end goal of creating a more inclusive experience.

One of the best measurements to assess how inclusive your internal and external customer journeys are is to actually listen to the perspectives of your workforce and of your customer base. Do they feel like the journeys they are experiencing are inclusive? Do they meet their needs? If not, why not?

Enable anonymous feedback to be submitted easily and regularly, and on the respondent’s agenda. That means not bombarding them with surveys, but enabling a permanent mechanism for feedback that they can access at any time that’s convenient to them.

This will ensure a steady stream of relevant insights, and also facilitate the ability for both customer and employees to share ideas for improvements.

how to make an innovative and diverse workforce- Think Wow

Making an innovative and diverse workforce

It’s been established that with increased diversity and inclusion comes increased creativity and innovation. From internal systems through to process improvements; there isn’t an area of the customer experience that can’t be improved by having more diverse perspectives taken into account.

Not only that, but in a highly competitive recruitment landscape like the one we are witnessing currently, candidates are more likely to consider whether a business or organisation is ethical, and look at how its employees feel about the culture before making a decision.

Make it a point to stand out from your less inclusive competitors by making it a top priority to deliberately build D&I into your processes at every level and you’ll find it easier to hire more diverse management teams, create a diverse work environment, and increase your number of engaged employees.

How do you build a diverse customer service team?

Believe it or not, it doesn’t start with recruitment. Recruiting for more diversity without building the support infrastructure to ensure that marginalised groups entering your workplace feel safe, understood, and catered for will likely lead to one thing – an increase in staff churn.

It’s crucial to build an internal customer journey that caters for diverse groups and to ensure business leaders and your wider teams are educated and empowered when it comes to spotting barriers to inclusion and safely challenging each other to raise the bar.

If you can garner a reputation for treating your staff equitably, you’ll have more success when you do eventually go out to a more diverse market to try to widen your talent pool.

Ensure that you don’t just cater for reasonable adjustments at interview stage, but that any reasonable adjustments are flowed through onboarding, induction.

Then into BAU management activities so that any uplift in areas such as gender diversity, or ethnicity diversity you achieve at recruitment stage is long lasting.

The goal is to foster a culture of actively engaged employees who feel heard within your customer service team.

Encourage employees from other areas of the business to move into customer experience with education and support programmes that are inclusive and that ensure that everyone is given an equal chance to step up when it comes to internal promotions or sideways moves.

Then ensure you have regular focus groups and safe spaces for any marginalised groups in your workplace to discuss progress and challenges.

D&I isn’t a one of project or recruitment drive, it’s a cultural awakening that should be built into the fabric of your business.

It should be reflected by the values and behaviours of your wider team and leadership as well as your processes.

What does an inclusive culture look like?

An inclusive culture can look like many different things, but it might look like happy and engaged teams, with top financial performers, increased human connection and the best talent for any role being selected, regardless of their social status, cultural characteristics, racial and ethnic diversity, ability or gender.

It’s a level playing field where inclusivity is at the forefront of all decisions, and barriers to diversity and inclusion are challenged safely and constructively.

How does a diverse customer base affect customer experience?

A diverse customer base will potentially impact how your customer experience is perceived. With different backgrounds and abilities, come different perspectives.

If a customer journey is only designed for one customer segment, then anyone who doesn’t identify with that segment for any reason will be less likely to find the customer journey satisfying, as it wasn’t created to cater for their specific needs.

Take for example the fact that in the UK one in twelve men are colourblind. If your website hasn’t been designed with inclusion in mind, it’s possible that there might be areas that are designed in colours are less easily distinguishable to those who are colourblind, and that could reduce the ability of that customer segment to self serve using information that is intended to be available to all.

This is just one example of an area of your customer experience that could be improved with a dedicated focus on diversity and inclusion, think of all the other possibilities that you could identify if some time was dedicated to finding out.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the possibilities to create a more inclusive and diverse CX are endless, the benefits well established, and the time is now.

In fact, with the increase in remote working, the enhanced reliance on technology, and a reduction in in-person interactions, there has never been a better time to reconsider your approach to customer experience, both internal and external, to ensure you are genuinely meeting the needs of a diverse workforce and your customers.

Rebecca Brown
Rebecca Brown
Rebecca’s intense passion for customer excellence began over a decade ago when she oversaw the opening of several high-end retail art galleries, balancing the need for an exceptional experience with a drive for sales.

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