In the final part of the series ‘the Customer Experience breakdown’, I’d like to focus on customer inspiration. Many people begin enthusiastically with new initiatives, but a relatively large percentage of them give up because they waste too much energy running up against brick walls. People give up and sometimes even burn up, whereas embedding customer experience (CEx) properly throughout the organization is a long-term process. So how can you guard against this if you are that CEx professional? Or you are that organization wishing to successfully embed CEx? This article describes lessons learned, from both perspectives.
Perspective of the customer experience professionals
I believe there to be a great difference in bringing customer experience to life and keeping customer experience alive. Also in terms of the competencies required in each phase. Make sure you are the right person for the two phases, or do you have a better match with the development work or the maintenance work? Here are 7 tips which have proved successful in practice for both phases.
7 tips to bring customer experience initiatives to life.
- Make sure CEx matches your organization targets (sales, returns, perception, cost reduction, CEx serves all these targets).
- You only need one sponsor, as the remainder can be rendered enthusiastic if you consistently spread the message in order that everyone recognizes the benefits.
- Make CEx very concrete: shed its woolly jumper of non-measurable or qualitative experience.
- Don’t forget to link cost efficiency to your CEx processes.
- Keep it small: start off with a single customer process project and demonstrate its worth.
- Support all those involved with good data, insights and methods, such as the formulation of a detailed customer experience journey.
- Take everyone by the hand, making it clear: these are the top three actions which will have the best result for you, as my dialog partner.
7 tips to keep customer experience initiatives alive.
- Make sure you have one or two people who continue to spread the message, especially in the first two years.
- Gradually develop the project in the early days, to form a broader project or program.
- After proving its effectiveness, embed the CEx method in the line (realistically speaking, it will take a year or two before it can be extracted from the project/program form, and line support will remain necessary even then).
- Accept the fact that, for a while, you will regularly have discussions about priorities other than CEx, and will need to show understanding.
- Keep looking for creative, new ways of getting people on board and keeping them there.
- Regularly share tangible results (interesting insights, new satisfaction analyses, increased satisfaction/NPS/CES with components, video clips of a customer group, et cetera).
- Only become the driver of CEx within your organization if you are energized by swimming against the flow, getting people enthusiastic and converting CEx from low priority to high(er) priority.
If those directly involved stick to this guide, there is of course no guarantee of success but there is a far greater chance than if you do not pay it consistent attention.
Perspective of the board and management
When push comes to shove, initiatives as broad as customer experience can only succeed with support from the organization. So where lies the role for the management or board members? And where not? What is their responsibility, versus that of the project organization and the professionals themselves?
7 tips for the facilitating board and management.
- Ideally, you have people on the inside who combine energy and drive with contextual knowledge of CEx. This is often a tricky combination to find. If you must choose, I believe energy and drive, and being popular in the (informal) organization to be more important than extensive contextual knowledge. Contextual knowledge can be taught, energy and drive cannot. Take care therefore when assigning this role.
- Make sure you then facilitate them in gathering the right knowledge. This person or persons must be able to convince many dialog partners of the added value of CEx for their own targets, and so they need to know what they’re talking about.
- Be aware of your role as sponsor and the impact on CEx initiatives often not receiving priority due to other more important issues. Be honest about this, do not make CEx more important than it (currently) is.
- Regularly check whether there is not too much energy ebbing away from the persons involved, periodically check what is needed to keep up the required level of drive. A listening ear and being able to ‘spit it out’ is often enough to renew people’s vigor.
- Also check what active support you can provide as a manager or director. Ask the project organization what they believe to be the next smart step, for you to help them as a manager/board member. Be a sparring partner to discuss stakeholders and their share.
- The project organization/professionals are more than capable of initiating and maximizing CEx, but its embedding is the responsibility of board and management. The project organization can be asked to provide input for KPIs, dashboards, and also to continuously improve the method. However, the final choice of approach and steering of that approach is not found at the project organization level.
- Make sure you regularly share interim results with fellow managers and board members, sharing success stories in order to encite enthusiasm throughout the organization.
So what’s stopping us from developing the world’s most customer-centric, efficient service organizations in both the commercial and public sectors!
Read the other articles in the Customer Experience miniseries here
- What purpose does customer experience management really serve?
- CRM versus CEM versus CCM
- Experience Engineering: a brilliant discovery, but how can you start it right now?
- Customer Experience versus Patient Experience: surprisingly similar.
- What is the shelf life of customer inspiration? 3 x 7 tips!