In the digital era, Customer Experience (CX) is the battlefield. Those who adopt the strategy and keep themselves accountable become leaders in CX:
- Outperform laggards by nearly 80%.
- Double their revenue within 36 months.
- Become 60% more profitable than companies that are not customer-centric.
It has to be something a firm does intentionally. It needs to have a focus on people and collaboration, bottom-up as well as top-down. Whether you are customer facing or not, everything you do has a direct or indirect impact on the end customer, or those that support the end customer. Therefore, to put the customer at the heart, you must have awareness on the impact you have and the opportunity to make the impact positive and memorable.
It’s not easy, which is why I want to share 4 ideas with practical tips based on my experience, and feedback from our CXO Society, to help you:
Align your business goals with a customer-focused culture
CX must start at the top of your organisation with executive sponsorship. Once your business and brand strategy are defined, create the CX strategy to outline the experience you want your customers to feel every time they interact with you.
As K.H. Blanchard said, “Customer service should not be a department, customer service is everyone’s job.” Set CX metrics across the business – they could be brand metrics, such as NPS or CSAT, or metrics linked to key points in the customer journey.
To encourage accountability, coach people to help them experience situations from the customer’s perspective. Use real-life and relatable examples to help the individual be able to act upon the feedback quickly. It should feel easy to help customers, so be sure to ask the individual if there are barriers to them delivering the experience your firm expects, and remove them. Also, check that training and expectations around a good customer experience were communicated in the first place.
Think about how to appoint customer-centric individuals as service champions across the business. And use accountability as a reward to encourage your champions to drive the right behaviours in others. In creating a clear role for CX champions, it becomes very tangible to show the value they deliver to the business.
Maintain a list of top customer experience improvements
One of the biggest mistakes we witness organisations make is the big bang approach to change – they set a huge goal that’s 3-5-years in the future and gear everything towards a massive reveal. It doesn’t work. It’s why most transformations fail.
The little things matter. Rather than create shiny new initiatives, focus on brilliant basics FIRST. There’s no point in launching an impressive all-singing, all-dancing service if the checkout process on your website is broken.
Often, it’s the small, incremental changes that have the biggest impact. And they’re much easier to achieve when compared to radical change. Listen to all customer feedback, encourage your people to regularly walk the customer journeys and ask for internal feedback on what could be improved. Then track these metrics, and develop action plans based on performance to ensure nothing is lost or forgotten, and be sure to give clear ownership to CX improvement actions and initiatives.
Embed CX into business and investment decisions
Jeff Bezos has a mantra that you should always include a (metaphoric) empty chair in every meeting to represent the customer. It’s a really simple idea that helps to make CX intentional and part of his company’s DNA – and a technique I use with my clients. Even if you’re working remotely and collaborating in Zoom-ville, it’s still relevant because you intentionally think about how the customer will feel from the decisions being made, and whether their thoughts and needs are being fairly and consciously represented.
Some simple but effective ways to achieve this are to give a customer update at the top of the agenda for every strategic meeting. It immediately sets the tone and places the customer front of mind. Drive a culture that allows people to feel they can challenge the business when things are not good enough for the customer, or if they question whether a decision was made without the customer’s best interests at heart. And encourage people to share their customer stories and feedback – this doesn’t have to be a rigid process, often, informal channels like Slack or WhatsApp work well to keep the conversation going.
Introduce new processes and tools to improve CX
When you welcome new hires to your organisation, you want people who have a natural affinity with customers, genuinely care about serving them, and making their experiences easy and enjoyable. It’s then crucial to take them through an onboarding process that sets the expectation for what a ‘good’ CX experience looks like at your organisation.
Whenever you introduce a new initiative, you should also look to frame it in the right way. Link everything back to the ‘why’ so your people understand the benefits to the customer and the business. Everybody has the potential to impact CX, so this must extend to both customer and non-customer facing roles.
And never accept that you have the ‘perfect’ CX just because your customers aren’t making a noise. Passive NPS scores are one of the most dangerous risks to become complacent around. These are people who are essentially ‘sat on the fence’, and while their score may go up, in one negative interaction with your brand it could equally go down. Be sure to focus on the passives – verbatim as well as detractors – if you use NPS to measure brand experience.
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