January 17, 2018
It was only a matter of time before someone pulled together this ridiculous notion. So I thought, why not me. I often dive into popular culture forms to find examples of the outcome or process I wish to convey. Which got me thinking, what would a customer experience programme sound like if it was set to music?
So with that in mind, here is the Customer Experience programme soundtrack to our lives. By the way, this is cast around my limited knowledge of music, so if you feel there are better tracks to convey how things are as CX matures, then please comment.
Stage 1 – Unawareness so Nothing Ever Happens
That surreal time when customers complained or fell away because of problems. Call centres acknowledged customer frustration. But unless execs could see it directly impacted the here and now sales figure, ‘Nothing Ever Happens’. From Del Amitiri, and released in 1989, this protest song about not taking responsibility for improving things for society(or in out case customers), i feel, captures that time where as a CX leader you knew there was a better way, but history kept repeating itself whilst customers defected or stayed through apathy or lack of choice.
Stage 2 – Madness (from a fresh perspective)
Perhaps the break though came when a piece of customer insight on the value of experience is shared – either your own, or borrowed insights. These show that the value economy had shifted from products and services to experiences. Enabled by an array of technologies, market entry and rapid growth meant super brands arrived in months with slicker smarter and more engaging experiences. Many retailers have fallen and at best those who survived have seen the standards of experience delivery expectation rise as customers no longer see as much value in the conventional differentiation points areas as they once did. Indeed, the economic value of a company’s worth has moved to how the customer experience is delivered before, during and after the transaction. At this stage, with this thought held aloft, a few brave souls embarked upon a journey of enlightenment to discover ‘what matters most to our customers’. Data highlighting the performance of the experience endured by customers supported by customer verbatim feedback on why it’s important created conversation around investment prioritisations and ways of working. But the gathering of the right data (such as measures to identify what actually drivers customer behaviour
), the understanding of what it means, and wrestling with the realisation of how far impacting across everything the company does it stretches could give you a headache. You could even say it was a time of Madness.
Path A (embracing customer experience) or Path B (resisting a customer-led approach)
We are at a junction here. Not all take path A. The evidence and the data can be overwhelming and challenging for some to understand. This is where, some take path B even though it feels right to start with, it will become an uncomfortable journey full of technology delays and IT contractors. This is the path of ‘digital-first’ or ‘mobile-first’ or ‘AI-first’ or ‘VoC first’ (you get the picture). Even with the sales pitch of chrome brushed applications, speed of light turnaround and ‘go-to-market’ capability, the IT priority list is clogged with ‘customer’ requests in a world which don’t forget is still ‘product (or other) focused at thus stage. At the town hall, the CEO is sending his people down path B too, ‘if we don’t have an app that customers can use and buy through, we wont have any customers.’ To the preacher its feels like they are putting customers first, but as their soundtrack would show it’s a long, long winding road with no particular place to go (another blog perhaps).
So back to the more exciting Path A
Stage 3 – The Impossible Dream
So back to the Path A followers and with a USB stick full of customer interviews, perhaps a few AS IS journey maps and evidence of how short-term sales advantages erode value in the customer, where as customers getting a better experience stay longer, a story can be sketched. A story which dares to dream to judge the company’s purpose and prioritisation is ultimately measured against one question, ‘does it add value to the customers?’
With the right playbook, storyboard, video showreel or whatever high impact media format you choose, this should be that moment when your customer and market insight is presented in a way that the boards’ only question is, ‘why haven’t we done this before’. It’s a moment of truth for the budding CX leader so you can’t get this one wrong.
Stage 4 – Absolute Beginners
Whilst companies been delivering products and services to customers for hundreds of years, as they have become commodities, Customer Experience is where customers place value. So those leading the CX Strategy and Transformation have to forget much of their ingrained ways of working and rebuild process, practices, people skills, platforms and propositions (to name a few) with a very different source of ‘value’ in mind. And although many of the tasks are the same, such as gathering insight, what you ask, how, when and the interpretation requirements are very different.
KPI’s are redesigned to drive value for the customer, not extract value from the customer. In fact, whilst the company has been historically been marketing itself to its customers, this is a time where the customer must be marketed to the business to get stakeholders on board.
Taking time to work through the strategy, requires diligence and rigour. Getting it right here is critical. Quite often those who start the CX strategy aren’t around to see it come to fruition. That’s not such a bad thing. It’s a very different set of skills needed to reshape ways of working and win over execs than it is to drive through innovations and creative improvements.
At Lexden, we use an award-winning academic CX capability assessment tool which enables a company to benchmark its current CX set-up against 1,100 brands, across 40+ activities identified as evident among the best of which achieve 600% ROI from their CX. This enables any company to understand what value they are achieving from their Customer Experience Strategy. We will also highlight where attention is needed across the CX critical dependency points and in what order – the head start you need.
Getting the right stakeholders onside is easier with a strategy and programme aligned to a successful CX blueprint. As David Bowie sings in his anthemic Absolute Beginners track, ‘if my love is your love, we are certain to succeed’.
Stage 5 – See for Miles
Getting the Customer Experience vision agreed provides clarity of the expectations of the business and more importantly that creating customer value is accepted as a business model to create sustainable profits.
To achieve this, the foundation must be the customer insight. By taking customer insights which have identified what matters most to customers in terms of what drives customer behaviour drivers (to secure more of their share of category). These proven and prioritised drivers are fused with the brand values we create a unique set of Customer Standards. These provide the organisation with an accessible and relevant framework for all employees to review their role and actions against and ensure internally and customer facing improvements are consistent.
They also can be energised as the overarching Customer Experience vision; the poster boy/girl of the cultural change. This becomes the reference name (hopefully at the top) on the board agenda. When underpinned with a sound customer experience programmes covering the five pillars of CX Management; measurement, culture, challenges, process management and governance.
With all in place, we can dare to dream and now we have a vision and a road map to take us there. The calm before the storm where you can see for miles and miles ahead of you.
Stage 6 – Rush hour
With the permission to fail, underpinning governance, budget to upgrade data sources, dedicated personnel and a vision to create value for the customer, we are off! But there is so much still unknown that the first 6-12 months are frantic. It’s like a corporate rush hour. As each ‘AS IS’ customer journey is mapped, more data gaps and embarrassing breaks in the journey are unearthed. Individuals dash-off to repair their mistakes, the digital team can run very fast and new ideas become reality and are launched.
It’s a time where discipline is needed. The ambassadors manage the pace, the CX activities such as Customer Journey Mapping and Improvement Ideation are stewards by the CX team in collaboration with areas of the business, a measurement of progress is set against progress* and prioritisation is aligned to what matters most to customers and gives the greatest advantage gain.
* Beware of sinking most of the CX budget into a customer feedback system which gives a performance number linked to something which doesn’t correlate to profit. Verbatim doesn’t need to come in torrents through every data touch point. And don’t forget, feedback platforms becomes part of the experience, not just a measurement of it.
You do need a truth and a prioritisation model. We use EXQ (Experience Quality Measurement) which is 25 customer behaviour drivers which have been proven (1,100 case studies) to account for 90% of customer’s decision-making. If introduced as the foundation layer of customer insight, at this stage it’s well established as the ‘customer truth’.
Put ‘customer value’ at the wheel (to paraphrase Jane) and it becomes clearer.
Stage 7 – Don’t stop me now
With all involved, the right customer insights driving decision-making and priority improvement calls being rewarded with greater customer share of category commitment as a result of their value appreciated in the improved experience.
If at this stage customer experience is set up as a growth strategy, then progress will be made. The Vanguards of CX enjoy 600% ROI, but only 3% of organisations are classed like this.
With success behind you, growth opportunities to build improves experiences, a road map pointing to sustainable competitive advantage and colleagues who feel good and are rewarded for adding customer value, nothing will stop you now.
Stage 8 – Perfect Day
Everything is aligned around adding value to the customer. Both business planning and customer management processes are now revised to add value to the customer. Listening systems are in place so feedback informs what needs further improvement and why. And with commercial and data analysts on board, any improvement can be measured against new agreed customer performance measures.
In this perfect world, new recruits, both employees and customer mention CX as a reason for joining, the experience as a consideration on their decision-making. The CEO asks whose idea it was to become customer-centric and the response is, ‘all of us. And then you find the transformation is wanted by the HBR or similar for a CX Case study – What a perfect day.
Stage 8 – Happy ever after – Lovely Day
As long as the CX team are focused on helping the business driving value for customer, CX is a long and sustainable strategy. It becomes a new way of working. Keep CX positioned as a growth opportunity. Keep listening customers. Keep understanding what matter most to them. Keep ensuring the business knows it’s purpose is to fulfill these and keep highlighting where the organisation can work harder to meet and exceed customers expectations in a more motivating (on brand) way than the competitors. From here on every day should be a lovely day. Everyday is a Lovely day thereafter.
So there we go, from start to a continuous non-end, my soundtrack to our CX life. Do you agree? If you’ve got a better soundtrack thought for any of the stages, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s only a bit of fun. But that’s both important in CX too.
Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)
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