Creating a compelling vision is one of the trickiest aspects of an effective customer experience (CX) program. A solid CX vision aligns teams, allowing your front-line employees to decide how best to serve the customer without needing to escalate.
Capital One 360 focuses on simplicity. They refuse to implement a new program or product without first ensuring it aligns with their vision. This not only impacts product-related decisions (for years, they refused to offer a checking account), but even to their CX measurement, which asks specifically about simplicity.
Aligning around a vision gives your teams the clarity to make decisions on the fly. The Virgin companies create over-the-top customer service, leading to such decisions as creating a customer lounge in their branches. Zappos has a similar focus, and they regularly throw in perks such as accelerated shipping when the situation warrants.
Even Spirit Airlines – the ACSI’s worst airline – has a clear vision driving their decision-making. They want to save every dollar possible, to put more money in their customers’ pockets. Specifically, their CEO stated, their vision is “to make sure the customer who can’t afford to pay current airline prices has an option to travel.”
Yes, I hate traveling on Spirit. But that’s mostly because I’m not their target customer. They’re not directly out to steal share from American or Delta (although they’re obviously happy to do that). Their target customer is somebody who can’t normally afford those prices, so is happy to trade in such amenities as free Diet Coke in return for a cheaper flight. This focus has created one of the most profitable airlines in the industry.
It’s Apple in reverse – we’d laugh at somebody who came to the Apple store looking for the cheapest computer, telling them they deserve that sticker shock and should have known better. So why do we empathize with the business traveler who complains about Spirit?
No, the truly bad customer experience isn’t represented by Spirit. It’s by companies who don’t know exactly how they want to serve their customers.
TiVo focuses on simplicity. But try canceling your service. They require you to call in and talk to a rep – during normal business hours. That’s not simple.
I defy anybody to tell me how Marriott’s vision differentiates them from Hilton’s. If I remove the branding from the hotel, there’s no way you could tell me which chain it belongs to. It’s the same way for American, United, or Delta. Only the uniforms and hubs separate them – otherwise, they’re pretty much interchangeable (the overbooked passengers and United Breaks Guitars being notable exceptions).
On the retail side, Walmart clearly wants to enable the low-cost consumer, whereas Apple creates a high-end personal touch. One challenge Best Buy faces is trying to compete head-on with both. Creating a personal shopping trip while matching Walmart’s prices is challenging, and has caused no end of headaches. Distinct parts of the company have tried to emphasize each, which can create a disjointed experience, since customers are never sure just what they’re going to get.
A unified vision is critical to unify your silos and create a great customer experience. Do you offer high-end service to wow customers, or redirect them back to self-service to keep costs low? Most organizations haven’t made this decision, which is why service levels are so inconsistent.
Aligning to a single vision isn’t easy. But doing so is a critical step to create a consistent, world-class experience.