“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra
Yogi’s quote applies to much more than baseball – it gets to the heart of what limits so many customer experience (CX) programs. When I ask most CX leaders what they’re trying to accomplish, I get a general statement like, “We’re working cross-functionally to create a better customer experience, in order to create more loyal customers.”
That’s an awful statement because it doesn’t actually say anything.
Yes, we need to work cross-functionally. And obviously, we want to create an outcome that will bring customers back, but this doesn’t give any direction.
If you want to inspire your teams to create a better experience, you need a vision with priorities that guide teams toward the right outcomes. Do you want customers to feel that you’re the easiest company to work with? Do you want them to feel you’re the most trustworthy, or flexible, or efficient? These are great – but you can’t be all things to all people. You need to choose.
Unfortunately, too few companies have the will to pick a direction, so they flounder along trying to make their experience “better,” as if there’s just one way to do this.
Create your North Star
Journey mapping should be the impetus to develop your CX vision. Clearly showing the state of your experience inspires teams to improve, but it also shows where your current experience is failing. This is the right time to discuss where you want to go, so you can make sure to get there.
When we lead an Action Workshop, we have participants create a Future Outcomes Map, identifying what they want customers to say, think, feel and do in the future journey. Next, each team creates candidate outcomes for how they want customers to feel in the future. We then have the teams work together to come up with three design guidelines, which become criteria for ideation.
While I obviously can’t share what our clients select for their outcomes, I can share how the Minneapolis CXPA team used this exercise in our work. We’ve been working together for six years, and by all accounts, we’ve been very successful with well-attended events. But we want to do even better, which is what led us to this exercise. After creating our outcomes map, we selected three words:
We want attendees to feel Inspired, Welcomed, and Hopeful.
We used these three words to build programming ideas, but also as we designed the next event. Notice that we didn’t select words like “informed” or “challenged.” These are good words but would have lead to very different content, likely with more technical topics. Knowing that our goal is to help participants feel inspired leads us to showcase successful companies and pair newcomers with those who have been down the path before (this also helps them feel welcomed).
Clearly, the design for a CXPA planning team is simpler than most CX programs, but we use the same approach successfully for our Fortune 500 clients.
Of course, sometimes our client already has a vision. We’re wrapping up four projects in three weeks, and two of those clients have a CX vision. In that case, we skip this exercise and instead help internalize the company’s existing vision and apply it to ideation.
A CX program without a clear vision is headed for failure, as each silo will determine “better” differently. Prioritize making a clear vision as part of your CX program. We can’t think of a better way to do this than to use journey mapping.