The five most common bad habits CX teams need to break

CX obsession isn’t a bad habit per se, but you’ll need to make sure you’re sharing the load and not getting bogged down in data and metrics. By Jason Mallia.

By this time of the year, most of us have given up on our more over-optimistic new year’s resolutions. Yep, that boat has sailed. Along with the yacht we once vowed we’d be on. The gym membership has flatlined, the twitching from the smart phone addiction has increased and our determination to learn another language is now just a hazy intention to watch more SBS.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves, because dumping bad habits or adopting new ones can be done at any time of the year and making changes that actually last is perhaps even more achievable without the pressure of faux new year enthusiasm.

That is not to say it is easy at any time of the year. It should be easy – we know what we should be doing, and we know what we shouldn’t be doing. Whether it’s biting your fingernails, fiddling with your phone or – in the case of many CX practitioners – expecting everyone in your company to be as obsessed with NPS as you are, it’s hard to break old habits.

It’s why Stephen Covey’s bible The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People will celebrate its 30th year of publication in 2019. Because breaking entrenched habits is hard.

The way our brains work doesn’t help. On the one hand, we operate on an unconscious level, thinking intuitively and automatically about issues and actions. On the other, we take a more conscious and considered approach to thinking that requires much more effort.

Daniel Kahneman describes these different modes of operation as ‘thinking fast and slow’, respectively. Fast thinking is great for doing things on ‘automatic pilot’ – remembering how to breathe, for example is tremendously useful. But when we need to engage the brain, to analyse and make decisions, slow thinking takes over.

The trouble is that, as Wendy Wood’s research in The Pull of the Past: When do Habits Persist Despite Conflict with Motives? suggests, between 40% and 45% of the decisions we make every day are not decisions, they are habits. This is when the brain is not active, conscious or engaged and when people return to their comfort zones. And don’t pretend you’re not guilty of it.

According to Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit, there are three parts of every habit: cue, routine, reward. Rewards can be powerful but focusing on the cue is where the real impact on habit formation can be felt.

So we recently surveyed over 700 professionals operating across the CX spectrum to find out what successful CX practitioners do well. We wanted to know the real-world cues for CX best practice that help build new habits with our autopilot setting working in our favour instead of undermining our efforts.

The results were fascinating, identifying the five habits of highly effective CX professionals, which we distilled in the ‘State of Customer Experience 2018’ report. It provides a great guide on how to assess your own CX habits.

One thing that made the survey different from many others is that we identified successful programs as those that were being actively invested in: i.e. those that deliver sufficiently tangible business results to be able to justify increased funding and resource.

The following are the most common bad habits that CX teams need to break in order to become leaders, not laggards. As you read them, be honest, how many are you guilty of?

 

  1. Obsessed with CX metrics and expecting everyone to join in. The value of CX can be proven by more than simply metrics. NPS and customer effort Score are useful, but moving the needle on these scores doesn’t always relate back to business outcomes. Colleagues cannot be expected to get involved and to care about CX if you don’t talk to them in terms that they understand and matter to them.
  2. Focused on data collection. Data is not the outcome of your program. Neither is a sexy dashboard or presentations to the board. These are all just steps in the process. Innovate, take action, do something or die.
  3. Deaf to everyone but the customer. The voice of the customer is core to CX efforts. But it cannot be the only voice. Employees, suppliers, partners and others all have a view on the experience you offer. And data from other sources, such as operational and financial input add colour and context.
  4. Keeping the CX too close. A focus on the customer cannot be the sole charge of a handful of CX professionals. It has to infuse the entire business. Each department, customer-facing or not, should understand how they impact the customer.
  5. Thinking your work is done. Spoiler alert: your work is never done! To continue delivering change, a CX program must be constantly looking for something new. New ways to gather data, share insights, and track the impact of the action that has been taken. Customer expectations get higher all the time so you need to keep raising your game.

 

So which of these habits can you break to deliver more impact from your CX program? To get you started, here are some quotes from our research about what people would like to do with their CX program in the future.

“I’d like to start including employee surveys into our strategy. This would allow us to identify and address employee related communication requirements and opportunities.”

“We will increase survey response rates so we have more data and the business is more confident that the results are representative.”

“Immediate, clear, and indisputable linkage of ROI and other key financial metrics to CX program data.”

 

Jason Mallia is ANZ manager at Confirmit.

 

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