Customer Experience

Customer Experience Strategy and Planning

It is widely cited that attention customer experience is lacking in most organizations. This barrier stifles potential and can greatly harm the health of your business. Implementing customer experience planning and customer experience strategy can greatly increase your ROI.By putting the customer at the core of your business, you will create immense opportunity for growth and development. But how should you go about planning and carrying out these changes? Below, you can learn straight from CX industry professionals about the skills, tools, and resources you need in order to plan an effective strategy that will drive customer satisfaction and the overall success of your business.

1 in 4 of you will loose your job this year

Why 1 in 4 of You Will Lose Your Job in 2020

1 in 4 of you will loose your job this yearYour CFO doesn’t care about your customer experience (CX) surveys. She cares about the health of your business, and it’s unlikely she sees a direct link between your survey scores and the measurements she follows.

Meanwhile, your CEO is focused on your customers, but that doesn’t mean he cares about your surveys, either. As one business leader confessed to me, “I keep seeing these survey scores saying we’re doing great. Then I meet with customers who they tell me how frustrated they are. So I don’t believe in the surveys.”

By extension, that means he doesn’t believe in his CX team.

So by focusing on customers scores, you’re at risk. Forrester predicts that one in four CX pros will lose their jobs in the year ahead, because they aren’t showing business impact.

Measurements Beat Metrics

Metrics are survey scores – that’s what CX focuses on. We’re really into them. They’re nice and neat, and easier to collect.

Measurements are what the business cares about. But they are trapped in operational systems, making them messy and hard to nail down. Lost customers, reorder rates, order size, service costs, repeat business – those are all measurements with financial impact.

That’s where you grab your CFO’s interest. You’re at risk if you don’t tie your program into these measurements.

The Evolution of CX’s Trouble

I see this story played out repeatedly. A customer-focused leader introduces the concept of CX to the organization and builds a CX team. She believes in the power of CX, and the team puts together a survey system and introduces the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system or the Customer Effort Score to the company. All is right in the world.

Until that leader moves on. That’s when things get dicey.

The new boss isn’t steeped in CX philosophy. So she asks a simple question: “How does this impact the business?” And CX struggles to respond in a compelling way.

This happened to a friend of mine. Her boss was terrific, sharing the CX story throughout the company. She loved working for him. Then his position was eliminated.

His replacement met with her still-new team and shared that he didn’t really understand what they did. Furthermore, he said, “So, you have insights – so what? What are you doing to drive the business?”

Suddenly, my friend and her team were at risk of being among that 1 in 4.

How do you ensure you’re one of the 3 in 4 who will keep their jobs?

Or, better yet, how can you become one of the 25% of companies that are able to quantify CX benefits or achieve a competitive edge?

One way that we’ve seen work well is loosely based on the research shared in our book, How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer? Using Journey Mapping to Drive Customer-Focused Change. My co-author Nicole recently addressed this topic here, too. To do this:

  1. show CX impact to drive changeUnderstand what the business cares about. Look for the measurements that matter and find a meaty business problem you can attack.
  2. Identify a journey and customer that impacts that measurement. Start with a journey, because since it involves multiple silos, it likely involves handoffs, a common source of customer friction. It’s also easier to impact than the entire end-to-end experience, as I discussed here. One phrase that came up repeatedly when we interviewed successful CX leaders for our book was “boiling the ocean.” Avoid that pitfall by choosing a focused journey. Identify a clear business problem, then rally your leadership to conquer it.
  3. Form a team that can create CX impact, as we discussed here and here. Involve every silo that touches the journey, including back-end teams such as IT, Finance, and Legal.
  4. Involve customers to learn what’s really driving their experience, so you truly understand what’s causing the lost business or low reorder rates. And remember – you can’t create a customer journey map if you don’t involve customers in the process.
  5. Identify the measurements that matter in the journey. You may have started with a high-level measurement, but you’ll discover many more, such as wait time, number of interactions, and handoffs. Track these as you…
  6. Drive change. Identify what most needs to change and rally your teams around these problems.
  7. Don’t forget to record the CX impact you’re having on those business measurements!

It’s the last part that will keep you out of that 1 in 4 at risk – showing how you’re actually impacting the business. And then bring that back to your CFO, so she can validate that you’re truly driving value.

Customer experience has a tremendous ability to impact your business – there’s no shortage of data to demonstrate that on a macro scale. But that doesn’t give you a blank check. You need to show your CX impact if you want to continue to drive change.

Turbocharge Your Journey Map

Two-thirds of customer journey mapping initiatives fail to drive action, as we revealed in our book How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer? Using Journey Mapping to Drive Customer-Focused Change.

That’s not really surprising, is it? It’s easier to reveal where customers are having problems than it is to do something about it. Taking effective action requires getting your silos aligned to improve the customer experience. A new class of software can help. Read more

Five Questions To Answer for Customer Journey Mapping Success

Successful customer journey maps drive customer-focused change like improving customer experience, developing a new way to deliver value to customers, or reducing the cost to serve current customers.

Based on a 2016 study of customer experience professionals, over two-thirds of respondents did not rate their journey mapping project as successful. The reason? A lack of action from the mapping endeavor.

When we work with clients at Heart of the Customer, our goal is to drive action from the journey maps. We require our clients to work through the Five Questions as a foundation for their journey mapping. Ask yourself and your team to work through these Five Questions before launching your customer journey mapping initiative: Read more

Ideas are Your Fuel for an Improved CX

Think about the last time you led brainstorming to improve your customer experience (CX). Did you give people Post-It Notes and have them shout out ideas while they put them on the wall?

Doing that is a ton of fun. But it’s also a terrible way to develop ideas. So, stop doing it. 

You reply, “But this approach is a staple of design thinking. Everybody’s doing it! Why shouldn’t I?  Read more

Good CX = Great Business Case

I’m returning home from a day and a half at Comcast’s headquarters, locked in a room with other marketing and CX thought leaders. (Okay, so not exactly locked in…)

They brought us to Philadelphia to share the work they’re doing in customer experience and to get our feedback and advice. But mostly to show us what they’re doing.

I came in pretty ambivalent. I’m not a customer – I wrote this post about firing them, but I’ve seen Graham Tutton speak twice (read about it here), and it appears they’re making a sincere effort to improve. What they shared today reinforces that positive belief – they really are working hard to change the trajectory. Read more

In CX, Relationships Matter

A few months ago, I was interviewing a Senior VP customer of my client, and asked her, “Do you have a relationship with [my client]?” She replied, “Well, yes, we have a commercial relationship…” I cut her off (probably a bad thing to do in an interview!) and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t explain myself well. Do you have a relationship with my client?” 

She stopped, thought about it for 10 or 15 seconds, then responded. “Actually, I don’t. A few years back I did, but not anymore.” She continued, “You know, I get a call from a competitor each week. And now it’s easier to take those calls. Because, since I don’t have a relationship, I don’t feel like I’m letting anybody down.” 

My client – who was in the room with me – listened to this exchange, and the power of her client’s comment stuck with her. She realized that you can make the experience easy. But without a relationship, it might not matter. Read more

Tell me why!

This week I listened to a colleague tell me that, three years ago, the company he worked for acquired another company of near equal size within the same industry. Within the last week, one of his peers from the acquiring company, a senior director with a large team, mentioned he was not sure why the acquisition occurred, whether or not there were any benefits, and what the impact was to his team.

Because very little information was shared, this acquisition represented a bigger and more complex product catalog and operating model to many employees, including senior leaders. This individual was angry that he was forced to change processes he was already comfortable with and was quoted saying “we need to go back to what we were doing before”. Read more

Don’t Ask How to Get Executives to Care About Your CX Program; Ask Instead How You Can Support Your Executives

I go to a lot of Customer Experience (CX) events. Although I learn a lot of new things, I also hear some common concerns throughout all of them. No matter the venue, you can be certain that somebody in the audience will ask a presenter, “How can I get executives to care about customers?”

That’s the wrong question. Believe it or not, your executives actually do care about your customers. These are smart people, and they know that pleasing customers is the secret to success.

They simply don’t care about your so-called “customer experience” program. Read more

No News is No Longer Good News

Domino’s went and spoiled it. And then Amazon made it worse.

It used to be that customers were patient and okay with waiting on your processes. Whether shipping a product, going through underwriting, or applying for a loan, we were okay with waiting in the dark. We didn’t like it. But we accepted that companies put their information into our black box and the results would eventually come out.

And then Domino’s created their pizza tracker. Suddenly, we all had a view of the behind-the-scenes processes that we never knew we wanted. We could see when the sauce went on, when the ingredients were added, and when it came out of the oven. Who cares if the pizza’s mediocre? We just loved the experience! Read more

Fees = Lazy CX

I spoke in Austin last week and while there, I rented a car to visit my youngest in San Antonio. I stopped at Dollar’s counter and the agent told me that, if I wanted, I could skip refilling the gas for $27. I didn’t have to decide right then – I could just bring it back without refilling, and they’d fill it up and charge me the flat fee.

That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it blew me away. Most rental agencies require you to decide up front whether you’ll refill the car. I always say no.

What happens when you forget to refill? Last year I rented with Enterprise and rushed back to the airport, forgetting to refill. As I checked in, I was told it would be $9 a gallon – $36 for four gallons of gas! I told the attendant, “Forget it. I’ll just go refill it,” but the car was already checked in. Finally he gave me a $5 rate, but it certainly frustrated me.

Why do they do this? Clearly to change my behavior. “If you make us do extra work, we punish you.” It’s not that unusual – but it’s unnecessary. Dollar used choice architecture to accomplish the same outcome without the punitive nature. Read more