Stuck? Here are Three Ways to Gain CX Traction

As one of the CXPA’s CX Experts, as well as a journey mapper, I’m often called by companies trying to create momentum for their CX program. Sometimes it’s a midsize manufacturer trying to start their CX program. Other times, it’s a Fortune 50 company who has a program, but seeing its influence wane.

I wrote a white paper on starting a program, in conjunction with Intouch Insight. In it, I walked through the CXPA’s six CX disciplines (CX Strategy, Customer-Centric Culture, VOC Customer Insight & Understanding, Experience Design Improvement & Innovation, Metrics & Measurement, and ROI & Organizational Adoption & Accountability). All six are critical to a successful program.

But most people who call know they need to do all this. That’s not the question. What they really want to know is: how do they build momentum? “How do I break through the noise, in order to get the company’s attention, so I can get permission to build a CX-focused design and governance program?”

If you’re stuck and can’t get the attention, focusing on all six disciplines equally is the surest way to stay stuck. To gain this attention, you need to hit your employees – and your executives – in the gut. You need to create a visceral connection to your current customer experience and its limitations. And the best way I know to do that is through visual voice of the customer.

“But we have VOC,” is the typical response. And it’s true. These companies have all kinds of data – surveys, focus groups, charts and graphs – all the information you could ask for. But data alone doesn’t drive action.

The real problem is that you’re the only one reading this data. To create traction, you need to bring the customer to life, making themz impossible to ignore. Stop trying to win your employees’ minds and aim instead at their hearts. Here are three ways to do that.

Build a Customer Room

A customer room is a place to bring all your data into one location, to tell you customers’ story visually. This room is a place to share your customer segments or personas, showcase their pain points and needs, and build it into a cohesive story. While you can spend over a hundred thousand dollars on this initiative, you can also do it much more modestly, with more elbow grease than flash. I wrote about Jason Kapel’s customer room at Prudential in 2017 – he did this with limited funds, and was even able to make it mobile, bringing it out to the teams.

Create a Road Show

This is typically a presentation, perhaps 60-90 minutes, that brings all your VOC into one place. The trick, though, is to make it interactive. Research shows that attention spans are approximately ten minutes long – after that, attention wanders. To avoid this, pair your charts and graphs with the literal voice of your customer, preferably through videos. Go through your old focus group videos to find those nuggets that articulate your survey data in a more human way, then pair them together.

This is how I gained momentum in my last “real” CX role (I wasn’t always a journey mapper!). I poured through our survey and call center data to find five customer themes, selecting the data that best showed the problems, tying them into business KPIs to show their impact.

I then built a presentation that started each theme with a customer quote that showed the impact. Next, I brought in the data, showing the prevalence of the issue, and whenever possible showed the costs, whether from customer attrition, increased call center costs, or lost revenue, validating it with Finance. That was useful. But the kicker was when I ended each section with a short clip taken from our focus group videos. This is what really earned people’s attention. It’s one thing to look at a chart to show that 2,000 people called in to report they couldn’t log in to your website. It’s quite another when a customer tells you they stopped using their account because it was too difficult to figure it out.

Here’s the interesting thing about this presentation. The focus group videos were two years old. In fact, this was one of the comments our CEO made: “I’m so pissed. We’ve known about this for two years, and we haven’t done a #*($*(# thing about it!”

The videos were critical – but only when paired with the data. Success requires engaging both the rational and emotional mind. Combining company data with financials and real voice of the customer is the key.

Quick Start Workshops

The third way is something we’re seeing happening more frequently, putting together employee workshops that tie quick-hitting VOC with a cross-functional team to drive action. In fact, I’m writing this on a flight to Belgium, where we’re doing this for a global brand.

We know the top driver of journey mapping success is a broad, cross-functional team. These workshops bring these teams together in an intense two-day format to hear from customers, create a plan, and drive implementation. Success relies on engaging executives in the outcomes, ensuring progress.

The workshop begins with VOC like the road show above – very immersive, including business impacts. But what separates them is the tie to ongoing governance. Employees are hand-picked by the executives and are told they are responsible for doing something with the results, and that this will be part of their performance review.

Just as importantly, executive sponsors are already aligned with the initiative with an ongoing governance structure created to ensure action. Too many CX efforts rely on bottom-up engagement. An effective workshop – one of our clients created the pithy name of “Boost Camp” – is built on a governance framework to ensure traction continues.

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These are three different methods – with different levels of investment required – to ensure your program gains the traction needed for impact. The right one depends on the state of your CX program. If it’s just you running a guerilla program trying to gain visibility, use the road show. Travel to your locations looking for sponsors and friendly faces.

If you have more resources, consider a customer room. It’s especially useful if you can make it mobile and bring it to all your employees. This will take time to staff it, which is why it’s tough to do in a one-person show.

But if you have the resources and can create the governance framework, the Quick Start Workshop is the way to go, combining bottoms-up engagement with top-down governance. That’s the quickest way to gain the buy-in needed to work on the rest of the CX principles.


Interested in workshops? Read more here.

Interested in journey mapping? Read more here.

Interested in improving your CX? Read more here.

1 reply
  1. Mike Tamayo
    Mike Tamayo says:

    Hi Jim,

    Excellent post.

    In addition to your suggestions, another approach I’ve used with good success is lifting the curtain on customer attrition. It’s surprising how many organizations don’t focus more on this. I typically start quantitatively by presenting the number of customers who have closed accounts, not renewed subscriptions, have stopped doing business with the company for awhile, etc. I then assign an actual or estimated lost revenue value to each customer (most of today’s CRM systems are easily able to provide this data). Lastly, I interview a handful of lost clients and, to your point, share the customer’s frustrations, anger, disappointment with the audience. I’ve found this combination of data works well to rally the troops. And, on a related note, I’ve worked at companies that dismissed this information and didn’t take it seriously…for CX practitioners, this is a strong indicator of a company’s willingness to really and truly walk the CX walk.

    Reply

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