“One of the first things you do when you stand up a CX program is to create a CX vision.”
It’s said so often that it’s pretty much a cliché.
It just seems to make sense. It also aligns with John Kotter’s 8-step change management program. I wrote about this a few years ago, and I’ve repeated this message myself more than a few times.
But late last month, while talking with a new client about all that you want to do when establishing a CX program, I heard myself say it again and paused.
Then I grabbed a Post-it Note and jotted down one word:
I’ve been thinking about that question on and off ever since.
So I asked two good friends of mine who created CX programs, Mara and Darin, about how they use their CX visions. It turns out neither had looked at their vision for years!
While I’m a big Kotter fan, the fact is that he’s never created a CX program. So I needed to think a little more deeply about whether his advice actually fits here.
From my perspective (and this is just my perspective – it’s not something we’ve probed in interviews), I came up with two use cases where it’s definitely worth your time to do it. (And let’s be real: doing it right will take time.)
You can use the visioning process to educate on the impact and importance of customer experience. This is in line with Kotter’s use of the phrase. The visioning process creates an opportunity to talk with other leaders and convey the significance of CX.
This is how Mara and Darin used it. And they no longer reference their CX Vision because it served its primary purpose. Once they had established their programs, trotting it out would have been preaching to the choir. It was an important first step, not one designed for lasting value.
A more powerful scenario is when the vision is used to create CX design standards.
We have multiple clients whose CX vision is to be the easiest company to work with in the industry. For most, this little more than a nice catchphrase. It feels good to say…but that’s about all there is to it.
We have other clients who have truly embedded that catchphrase in their culture. And it shows.
I remember interviewing my friend Mark Smith years ago. He told me how he had deployed a bunch of those Staples “easy buttons.” It was part of his effort to dramatically simplify communications and improve customer outcomes – and in the process, coincidentally, save his company a ton of money on support costs.
Similarly, when I interviewed six different stakeholders at one client organization, each person began their interview by stating the CX vision. And all of them could easily discuss how that vision informed their day-to-day work creating a B2B customer experience that was enjoyable. Enjoyable!
This is the scenario where creating a CX vision makes the most sense. It becomes a design tool.
But for maximum impact, it must meet the following requirements:
First, it has to be short. Heart of the Customer’s company mission, for example, is “We help clients reimagine and realize business success through a data-driven approach to customer experience.”
At 15 words, that’s too long – though in our case, our clients will recognize that its length is also reflective of our culture. (As we like to say, “We think in paragraphs, not phrases.”)
The second requirement is that you must enforce usage of your CX vision. (Our mission would be worthless if we didn’t continually reinforce the importance of helping our clients use data to make decisions.)
In the end, after all this consideration, I’ve come to realize that there are many ways to have a conversation about CX. But the time-consuming process of creating a CX vision isn’t best suited for that purpose alone.
My new advice – which I’ve already given to a new client– is to hold off on creating a vision until you have solid Voice of the Customer data, know what your customers need, and have design principles in place.
Only then is it worth the effort to create a vision to reinforce those design principles.