Rallying your teams to move to a more customer-focused approach requires letting them know what needs to be done. And nothing is more effective at accomplishing that than having a compelling CX vision for what the future looks like.
A clear vision is the accelerator for customer experience (CX) change. Sure, you can improve the experience without a vision – but it will be much more difficult.
A compelling vision is Kotter’s third step in change management. (I’ve explored the first two steps here and here.) As the firm explains in 8 Steps to Accelerate Change in Your Organization, “You can’t appeal to people with data and facts alone. You must also account for how people feel. If you can provide greater meaning and purpose to their efforts, amazing things are possible.”
And it’s definitely true! We have found that our clients with the clearest vision also seem to be the ones who are most effective at engaging executives and team members alike.
For example, Compassion International’s Ben Webb leads with a vision of “Incredible experiences, end-to-end, everywhere, for everyone.” Dow’s Ambition & Values web page states, “We aim to be easy, enjoyable, and effective to do business with through all our digital and personal interactions.” All of Dow’s CX team members share this phrase, showing it’s not just defined, but actually adopted.
Your vision should flow naturally from what you used to create a sense of urgency. My experience is that effective CX visions typically fall into one of two categories – ease-focused or emotional.
The Customer Effort Score continues to inspire CX pros to reduce excess effort. Too many companies make customers learn how to work with them, creating unnecessary difficulty. This is especially true for B2B organizations, which tend to be more complex.
For example, earlier this week, I was talking with an executive who shared that in order to get things done, his customers have learned how his company (their vendor!) is organized, so that they can go to the right person (skipping their account rep) in order to get the answers they need.
That’s obviously not a good thing. A clear vision aimed at reducing effort creates a compelling view of the future that leads to improved outcomes for the customer…and the company. Sounds like an excellent place to start, doesn’t it?
While not universally true, emotional visions do seem to be more common with B2C companies. But there’s no particular reason why B2B companies shouldn’t focus on improved emotions.
In fact, I would argue that the emotions of a B2B journey – particularly trust – are far more complex and critical than in B2C. After all, if I choose the wrong phone company or computer, I’ll be annoyed. But if I choose the wrong software vendor and my company can’t compete, I’m likely to be fired. Which is decision is more emotionally fraught?
But still, it seems that B2C companies have an easier time focusing on creating a positive emotional experience. For example, I like Warby Parker’s vision: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.” Hagerty’s is less well-known, but also exceptional: “Deliver exceptional experiences with every single interaction, creating lifelong clients that not only stay with Hagerty, but tell their friends about Hagerty.”
My friend Megan Burns put together a nice video on how to structure your vision, suggesting four different formats. We often help clients work with the Attributes method, but the others also work well.
Steps to help you get started:
- Immerse yourself in the brand. Your CX vision should flow from the brand. (If your brand promise doesn’t provide inspiration, well, you might have some other issues…)
- Look at the problem you used to create a sense of urgency. While this may be narrow, it should provide direction for either making your experience easier or to creating a specific emotional outcome.
- Review your customer research. Effective journey mapping will give you a clear direction what your customers need from you. Make sure your vision addresses their most critical needs.
- Take some time. Brainstorm different ideas to create a compelling direction, involving people from throughout the organization. This is a big deal, so take the time to get it right.
- Run it by executives. Make sure your executive sponsors are aligned, as you’ll need their help to share this vision with their teams.
- Socialize it throughout the organization. A vision is only as effective as those who share it, so develop a method to spread the word. Have your executives share it. Build a specific plan to disseminate it throughout the organization. One creative approach is to assemble “CX Vision in a Box” kits, complete with videos, collateral materials with the vision printed on them (such as mugs or banners), and a set of talking points.
Show me a program that’s stuck, and I’ll show you a program without an effective vision. Make sure yours isn’t one of them!