CX in your business: be a leader, not a bottleneck

Chris Breslin says leaders should let customer experience transform their business by setting an example, then getting out of the way.

Chris Breslin_Confirmit (1) bwThe customer experience is now well established as a critical battleground for most organisations.

But some organisations are being held back by the uncertainty of how to embrace the cultural transformational change required these days to compete on that battleground.

The voice of the customer (VoC) can provide a highly effective catalyst for that change by identifying ways to improve the customer experience; engaging employees to implement change; and measuring that change is actually happening and its impact on business results.

Our role as leaders is to give our teams the tools to perform these changes – the right insights and measurement framework – and then to get out of the way.

 

Cutting to the bottom line

There needs to be a clear business imperative for change and that means being able to define and measure it to demonstrate value.

The customer experience can have a transformational impact on an organisation through:

  1. Revenue increase,
  2. cost reduction, and
  3. culture change.

 

Revenue increase and cost reduction are cold hard facts which are the basis of most performance appraisals.

So to drive change we need to help employees understand that changing their behaviour will enable them to hit their targets and get their bonus or promotion.

For example, insights from a VoC program could reveal if you are in danger of losing key accounts based on net promotor score data.

It is only through individuals changing their behaviour on a daily basis that we can deliver long term, company-wide culture change.

 

People power

There are two essential elements to address in delivering changes that will transform the customer experience; people and process. By trying to create new processes without focusing on people, you’ll build systems that work in theory, but which won’t operate effectively in the real world.

Too much focus on making people feel great about change will fail if you don’t implement the processes to support them.

To deliver business value you need to bring people and processes together. To build a customer experience strategy that will drive the right type of change you need to consider the four facets of your program that will impact the bottom line and change the culture of your company:

  1. Vision,
  2. design,
  3. engagement, and
  4. action.

 

Vision

Most CX programs will have a vision, whether to be most customer-centric or to ‘get closer to the customer’. It’s usually the starting point for a program and strongly communicated around the business with posters and taglines galore.

The problem with many of these visions is that they’re simply too fluffy and very little actually happens. An effective vision needs to be tangible, particularly for employees who aren’t customer facing and who may not understand how their role impacts the customer experience.

For example, if after research you determine that being number one for NPS in your industry in your region will return significant financial benefit focus on that.

Identify the five key steps in the customer journey and concentrate on hitting the top spot by a specific date.

Be focused, be clear.

With a vision like this, you’re able to explain how each team can impact one or more of those touchpoints to improve the customer experience.

This makes it real for people in back-office roles and connects them to the process so they have a sense of ownership and practical guidance for taking action.

 

Design

CX ‘voices’ design is about listening to all the right people – customers, employees, the market and key stakeholders by using the right channels and the right touchpoints. Once these voices are integrated with other business insights, such as CRM data, you begin to understand the action you need to take.

This sounds simple, but is an area where many programs struggle, usually for one of two reasons:

  1. Too much listening, not enough action: often, there’s a sense that ‘we have to do a survey,’ but there is no point in doing a survey without a clear plan to use the resulting data. Just finding out what your NPS score is because you’re interested, is not a reason to conduct a survey. There has to be a process to deal with the feedback that you receive.
  2. Not learning lessons from the past: This is the biggest mistake. It’s no use rolling out more surveys at more touchpoints without making sure you’re getting it right at the beginning. It’s better to start small, make the tweaks necessary, then roll out to additional touchpoints when you know your closed-loop activity is working.

 

The best advice for the design phase is to develop a framework on which you can build your overall program. By creating, for example, a library of questions to choose from at each touchpoint and ensuring consistency across all areas, you’ll be able to prioritise actions across touchpoints and deliver immediate results.

 

Engagement

Engaging employees with your CX programme is critical, and the way to engage them is not purely through posters and communications programmes. You need to find simple ways to show your people how to do the right thing and ensure it’s fun or rewarding for them to do so.

In many cases, the less prescriptive you are on what the ‘right thing’ is, the better. For example, instead of handing out a huge customer manual, implement a simple approach of treating customers as if they were guests in employees’ homes.

Everyone knows how to do that, and when one person does it, colleagues will see that behaviour, realise it succeeds and emulate it. 

In short, the trick with engagement is to set the example and get out of the way.

 

Action

This is where many programs fail and it’s the place where they can least afford to fail since its actions that drive the change that businesses are striving for.

There are three main reasons why programs fail to drive action:

  1. Getting lost in the detail: it’s vital to get insight – not data – out into the business in real or near real-time. The danger of so much information is that you suffer from analysis paralysis and eventually provide a huge report that doesn’t engage the audience. It’s vital to use concise, tailored, live reports that put the insights stakeholders need at their fingertips.
  2. Being a control freak: you can’t keep a CX program exclusively within a CX team. Most teams have only a handful of people, and cannot possibly deliver transformational business change alone. Furthermore, trying to do so simply creates disengagement from other departments who feel that customer experience is someone else’s problem. An effective CX team puts the insight into the hands of the rest of the business, giving individuals the power to drive change.
  3. Loss of focus: this is common in long-standing programs where initial quick wins are over, excitement wanes and a shiny new initiative has appeared on the horizon. To counter this, it’s important to keep going back to that financial data, proving the value and success of the programme time and time again.

To be transformational change must go viral

Set the example, help the teams clearly define what good looks like, then let them define the changes in behaviours that are required, whilst measuring that action is happening and the business results are being delivered.

But be realistic – you can deliver a big bang launch initiative in a two-day off-site meeting – but that doesn’t create true transformational.

Change may start small and build incrementally, but you can be confident that this is true change, change that will stick and deliver significant business advantage to your organisation.

Most importantly, it will give you an engaged team that will be able to continue the transformational journey.

 

Chris Breslin is manager, Australia and New Zealand at Confirmit.

 
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