Monday, December 17

The 7 pillars of customer experience

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A comprehensive approach to CX minimises objections

Does this issue sound familiar?

“We’d like to accelerate our customer experience programmes but it’s very complex and so many things are getting in the way”

The stakeholder then goes onto list a group of symptoms which relate back to one or sometimes most of the root causes described below:

  • Senior Stakeholder Belief
    The company accepts the importance of the customer agenda, but it ends up secondary to other performance improvements. This is the first symptom of the “profit first” organisation. Senior stakeholders will always support the customer experience concept but the ultimate goal of generating and increasing bottom-line profit in short-term timeframes comes first.
  • Fragmentation
    The company wants to change but there is no clear consensus on specifically where to and how. “We have 22 great ideas every day – we can only take one” sort of observation.
  • Prioritisation
    Customer experience seems to hit multiple points of resistance. Great ideas are generated but the business is too busy or involved with other initiatives which they believe have to come first.
  • Culture
    The company recognises that internal support is vital for successful projects and programmes but not many people are volunteering to take part. Further, the most useful resources are too often assigned to other projects. People don’t want to even try to think differently.
  • Thinking and techniques
    The projects create improvement and most of these are sensible but hardly mind-blowing. How do we create results that makes the customer agenda stand out as it should?
  • Execution
    The company has generated new journey maps and analysis of Voice of Customer results but nothing much has happened to deploy anything new.
  • Impact
    The theory behind customer experience is compelling but the numbers are everything. How can a company accurately measure projected impact both in terms of ROI and P&L, so that senior stakeholders can better recognise impact and prioritise?

The feeling the stakeholder is articulating is that the customer agenda is extremely tough to deliver against.

It’s tempting to look at these problems individually. An ex-manager of mine used to say either “treat a change challenge like eating an elephant – one step at a time” or “treat a complex problem like climbing Everest, one step at a time. Tenzing and Hillary would have approved of that”. I disliked Mr Metaphor for many reasons but mainly because he insisted on making life twice as difficult and progress three times as slow by insisting on analysis to paralysis behaviour then complaining about lack of progress.

I am using a slightly extreme example but often the best and quickest way to solve a problem is to look at the outcomes and the problems take care of themselves.

Have you also noticed there are other companies who look at how they develop differently? These are the companies that deliver consistently great results and rarely seem to get entrenched in some of the problems described above.

We have codified what we see as the 7 pillars supporting any company that is looking to become a customer-centric market leader.

Pillar 1: Accountability

Accountability for customer experience moves directly to the business.  The CX department is an expert support function that can offer expertise, guidance, upskilling, development, knowledge and products.

Pillar 2: Scope

The Head of Customer Experience is a direct report to the CEO. Often the CEO is the ultimate customer champion.

Pillar 3: Definition

Create a definition for customer experience that relates specifically to how you want your customers to view you. The emphasis moves from “viewing CX as the the sum of all the interactions between a customer and your company” to “aligning every aspect of the company to the outcomes and experiences we want to create for our customers” – and meaning it! It is not a disposable slogan!

Pillar 4: Culture

Customer-centric companies will have a customer culture throughout the whole organisation – irrespective of whether staff are customer facing or not. Customer-centric companies have happy and engaged employees.

Pillar 5: Focus

Creating a customer-centric company requires a 180 degree change in direction from inside-out product or service focus to customer outcome and experience focus.

Pillar 6: Next Practice

Up-skill your people with methods and techniques that go beyond “best practice” to “next practice”. Next practice thinking will help identify innovative, differentiated propositions plus simultaneous revenue, cost and service impact which best practice never gets to. And yes, in future articles we will prove it.

Pillar 7: Measurement

Measure the right things including the quantified ROI and P&L impact of CX. A customer centric business strategy aligns outcomes to customer to the following 4 other critical outcome areas – company (P&L), employee (happiness & engagement), stakeholder (including external) and social agenda.

I sometimes get the response “ we can’t do all this – it will take forever”. The reality is that is simply not true. As long as the CEO and sufficiently influential members of the senior team is genuinely determined to create a customer-centric company every pillar except Pillars 4 and 5 can be created in under 6 months. Some pillars can be done in less than a day.

Depending on where your company is, Pillars 4 and 5 will take longer. The recent Gallup stats claim 87% are NOT engaged at work. A disengaged workplace is slow to support change so developing a customer culture – even a customer-obsessed culture – is a critical catalyst. In turn, developing a culture needs a happy engaged workforce. This appears a big ask but new findings (which we will expand on in future articles) are emerging which can dramatically accelerate this.

The bottom line is – if you focus on these 7 pillars many of the problems that companies face in getting behind customer experience will take care of themselves. We will expand on these pillars further soon!

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About Author

Founder & CEO. Charles is an acknowledged leader in customer-driven performance change using both best practice and emerging next practice perspectives. He leads, mentors and coaches in both strategic and operational initiatives. A strong believer is the potential for "supercompany performance" he innovates using next practice thinking and methods to enhance the business. He researches heavily to retain his reputation as a thought leader, which he has applied across 40 countries, multiple sectors and companies such as Citibank, Nielsen, Microsoft, Vodafone, Tracker and governments in Middle East and Asia. Contributes to business journals and often invited as a speaker or chairman to events all over the world.

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