Tuesday Mar 19, 2013

Want to make sure your Customer Experience Work Stays on Track? Manage these Seven Inhibitors of Customer Experience Work Success

Guest Post: Jeanne Bliss, President, CustomerBliss

1. Starting with a mantra, not an action plan.

a. Often companies decide that they want to get some early traction by telling everyone to “focus on customer experience” What happens next is that people realize this is a big corporate priority and begin taking actions, making plans and creating new scoreboards and taking action.

b. This proliferates the silo based approach to actions that is contrary to the discipline of experience development and management. A lot of action occurs, executives get a “false positive” that action is occurring and traction is happening, but it eventually stalls out because the actions don’t aggregate up to improve complete end to end customer experiences.

2. Not first defining the customer experience and gaining alignment on the path of actions.

a. This is similar to first point, but I am stressing it separately because defining the experience consistently and gaining alignment has major downstream implications if it is not done correctly and if the time is not done to get alignment.

b. The organization needs to agree on the stages of the experience and the definitions of success.

c. The importance of this is because we want to give leaders a new language set for which to ask and drive the business, and we want to establish the key cross-functional metrics for the development of key KPIs for priority touchpoints. This is critical also to database management, as the stages of the experience interrelate to one another.

d. Without creating this framework first, the risk is to experience the same failure as what happened when (most) corporations around the world rolled out CRM.

e. They automated current processes without rethinking the business.

f. The business of customer experience is about redefining the operation of the business to be driven from the customers’ point of view on how they experience the company .

g. This new attitude and approach to talking about and managing the business is key to achieving the cultural transformation. It’s only when we drive the experience from this vantage point, and hard-wire this approach into language, leadership and operations that it will become sustainable.

3. Not breaking the work into actionable pieces and not understanding what “success” is.

a. Initially the work on the customer experience journey should be considered successful when “enabling infrastructure” actions occur, such as

i. Aligning the databases to be able to manage customer data to know the value of the customer asset

ii. Engaging leaders in personally becoming connected to customers’ lives by calling customers, visiting employees

iii. Teaching the organization the competency of working together across the silos to solve and improve one (or two) customer experiences end to end

iv. Changing the communication from leaders to drive customer experience accountability

b. What often happens is that instead of building in (and celebrating) these new competencies so critical to the long termed sustainability – is that people want to attach a score.

i. “we will be successful when our satisfaction rates are x” or “we will be successful when our net promoter score is y”

4. Attaching early metrics to outcome metrics rather than operational metrics people can impact

a. It’s very enticing to jump to the outcome metrics such as survey scores.

b. The challenge with this is that the outcome of a survey score is impacted by numerous factors, not all of which can be impacted by areas of the organization who are given the outcome metrics as their performance score.

c. It’s more powerful to, for example, identify the operational kpis that people can impact

d. If the outcome metrics are added to early, before the underlying processes and culture change and coaching and development are put into place – people WILL want to achieve great scores – but they will rely on involving the customer in helping them to achieve a better score (follow up – any reason you can’t give me a ten?, etc.)

e. They will also focus on actions so minute that it might move the needle a little on the score, but the overall approach to sustaining that skill or even building that skill is compromised. It’s very hard to sustain this type of “go get a good score” approach.

5. Not having executives engaged in the effort.

a. Often executives will say that they want to focus on the customer experience – but they hand off the work to a department or area to work on.

b. This work is not like a typical project. Setting up a great project plan and executing on tactics and actions will get the infrastructure built (such as VOC systems) but it won’t drive the change in culture and the development of cross-silo competencies.

c. Leaders must commit to being personally involved – beyond a perfunctory monthly “check in” meeting. They need to engage in the process of the work. Without executive involvement driving the new prioritization, driving out the actions that are in the way and giving people permission to work together – it is hard to sustain this work.

6. Not having clear communication to the organization that walks people constantly through the roadmap, and actions, and behaviors to model

a. It’s not enough to do the work behind the scenes. The organization needs to be constantly kept up to speed on what is happening and what it means to them.

b. As new decisions are made that focus on customer experiences – people must be kept apprised of these decisions – and given permission to model this type of decision making.

c. Leaders must emerge as constant communicators of why we are taking the actions we are.

d. The organization must be kept up to speed on actions and successes.

e. Without this constant communication and “permission setting” and “decision guidance” the organization will view the cx work as another in a long string of exercises or programs that will go the way of the others – away.

7. Taking actions based on what they think, not based on understanding what customers need.

a. Many companies, especially those long entrenched in their business, believe they know what customers need.

b. Even when they do research, they make the research about “validating” their plans rather than beginning open minded and asking the customer about their lives and what they need.

c. This approach will compromise the outcome of the new experiences that are built – and in some cases will completely backfire.

d. The recent Walmart case is a great one to bring up. Walmart did “research” and got from it that customers said that they wanted less cluttered stores. So they set upon a plan (led by a past Target executive) to declutter the aisles, etc. Then they asked customers if this what they wanted. It backfired. They have lost millions on this. Look up this example --- it’s a good one!

e. Customer experience differentiation comes when the experiences are based by truly understanding customers’ needs – rather than beginning with current processes and asking customers what they like or don’t like. Many companies fall into this trap – from experience building to customer satisfaction scores that indicate that “they are doing ok”. Customers are forced to react the box of the experience you are currently giving – they aren’t given the change to really talk about what they need.

Jeanne Bliss Blog:       www.ccocoach.com subscribe to my blog

Books:   Chief Customer Officer & I Love You More Than My Dog

Twitter: @jeannebliss

 


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