The customer experience is a complex creature. With multiple channels, complexly disparate data, ever-changing customer norms, and emergent technology to contend with, it is no surprise that any attempt to improve, or even just modify, the customer experience will bring challenges.
That said, while many factors ultimately contribute to seeing a customer experience initiative succeed, three criteria in particular are ever-present in stories of successful CX transformations.
1. Executive sponsorship and CX ownership
Becoming a company that provides an excellent customer experience requires investments. The obvious investment is the funding required to develop and build the capabilities to support the enhanced customer experience. But, driving CX improvement requires a clear executive owner of the experience that has the backing and/or is part of the C-suite. This can come in the form of a CXO, or an extension of the COO and CMO roles. CX ownership cannot lie in individual silos, it must cut across organizations.
People have been talking about customer experience for a decade, so why hasn’t customer experience had this level of exposure in an organization’s leadership until just the past 1-2 years? Simple. Until now, it’s been impossible to measure ROI from customer experience. Anecdotes from samples of 100 customers in a user group or referencing companies like Nordstrom doesn’t do anything. It’s all fluff.
Improving CX requires applying resources to changing the way the organization interacts with each of its channels, the way data is collected in order to evaluate and optimize the cross-channel experience, as well as the improvements that will be made in communicating with the customer. Journey-driven CX transformation demands a fundamental change in organizational mindset that starts with a clear business case that details:
● Why there is a need to improve the customer experience
● What kind of business value can be expected from the project
That vision and the ability to convey these rationales demand the approval and direction of senior leadership. Any change to the overall customer experience will require the ability to influence multiple areas of the organization. Sales, marketing, point of sale, customer care, call centers, customer operations—for most companies the leadership hats for each of these areas are worn by different people. Cutting across those divisions requires C-suite level agreement so that the company as a whole is committed to making improvements. This is the only way to overcome the internal friction that resists such changes. Roles need to be defined and enforced so that every channel plays a part in the transformation rather than retreating to their individual silo.
2. Well-defined journeys
The second hallmark of well-executed CX transformations is an end-to-end perspective on the customer journey one hopes to enable. Single channel efforts that focus on the website, mobile app, or contact center tend to improve only that channel. What companies need to think about is how they are going to take entire journeys and transform them.
Such journeys require definition. In our experience, we see that enterprise companies typically have between 10 and 15 core journeys that customers experience with their brand. Sure, these core journeys then may have up to 100 secondary activities, but fight the urge to overcomplicate things. For example, making a payment is a core journey for any company. You can, however, make a payment on the web, mobile, IVR, with an agent, etc. These secondary activities are definitely crucial to understand how the core journeys are performing.
The basic framework of journeys must be defined so that outliers and improvement opportunities can be illuminated. That enables a fiscal-based business case to be built for the journey that can then be handed over to the channels that are going to have to change. Only then can changes be made to a website, a new mobile service created, or an adjustment made to how a promotion is marketed. Without a clear plan for all these steps and the mechanism to measure the success of the entire effort, the transformation is vulnerable to wholesale failure from any overlooked small step.
3. The Quants
Transformation takes place over time. That is certainly the case when one talks about evolving the customer experience, where the prevailing behavior of existing customers and the different expectations of new clientele must all be considered. Decisions to drive change in all of these areas must not be based on assumptions, but rather data-driven based on the entire customer journey. Ensure you’re not basing decisions on methods like surveys or loose references to frameworks used by other companies. The level of detail needed to thoroughly drive your business isn’t available in those approaches.
Consider that roughly 5% of customers go through the official process to move service and equipment with Telecoms. These processes surely looked amazing on a white board. With new technologies emerging, the quants have reached an inflection point where transparency on journeys can be created beyond samples and snapshots, towards something enterprise wide that represents all customer interactions.
Companies that successfully navigate this process are able, at any point in the transformation, to measure the impact they are having. They can tell how much value is being created, not only by referring to loose measures like CSAT, but by the value being reflected in sales, cost reduction, and more empirical measures of customer engagement. They know how the pieces fit together.
The quant game has changed, as there are new tools and technologies that enable professionals to better analyze and measure quantitative data with a more holistic lens. This increased visibility enables companies to justify the investment in their business cases, make the right decisions, and allocate resources to whatever is going to have the highest return. Getting to this point requires focus; true understanding of where the company started its transformation and where it wants to go. Companies with successful transformations are able to make targeted investments in the customer experience effort because they have quantitative analytics that can be used to communicate success and rationale throughout the organization.
There are many reasons why a company may struggle to realize impact from its customer experience initiatives, but it only requires attention and organizational alignment to a few key characteristics to understand why others get it right and how you can follow their lead.