Customer Experience 101 – The Five Must Haves for Successful Transformation

The phone rings.  The call comes from the CEO.  He has been reading again - this time it is the Time magazine article “Could 2013 be the year that customer service gets better”.  He wants these loyal customers, he wants them to try new products and services.  And he wants them to become advocates spreading good news about his company.  He has seen a bright, sunny future - improving customer service is clearly a no-brainer.

“There is a whole world of opportunity out there.  We need a customer experience strategy and we need it quick!”

Emphatic and he's not finished, “We need a digital strategy.  I want webchat, and twitter, and facebook.  And we need forums”.

But here’s the rub “the City expect us to remain efficient so lets not lose sight of the metrics and for goodness sake remember that our speed to market is what brings in the profits!”

Hours are spent in the Boardroom with version after version of Powerpoint.  The strategy is carefully designed and deployed with the speed that the business is renowned for.  Months pass and the contact centre productivity measures are rock solid, employee engagement has dropped back a little but the customer satisfaction metrics have not moved an inch.

“I have invested in training and we have decorated the contact centres.  Why isn’t this working – do the advisors simply not care about our customers?!”  And right there is where most customer experience strategies fall over.

For customer experience strategy to land successfully it has to be built into the DNA of the business and not be "A Project" or even given the heady label of "A Strategic Project".  It has to be more intrinsic than that; it has to be believed in.  We think that the FIVE must haves to enable a positive environment for customer experience to thrive are:

  1. Co-create the strategy with advisors and customers.  They know what is wrong now and what needs fixed.  If you involve them they become part of the cultural transformation.  If you don’t involve them it is just another passing fad from the corner office.
  2. The cultural transformation can’t be kept in silos.  It must be designed-in and embedded everywhere from product development through to marketing – no-one should be immune.  Inconvenience to a customer should be considered an organisational failure.
  3. Customer experience isn’t about widgets (as us old guys say) or apps as the kids are calling them.  Bolting a fancy web solution onto a bad or broken process doesn’t fool a customer for a second.
  4. The old metrics don’t work.  Focussing on productivity measures in customer operations means that there is no headroom for advisors to just “do the right thing” for the customer. Operational headroom and empowerment are what separates the great customer focussed companies from the wannabes.  It is true that you can manage what you measure – but how about a wild ride to see if doing the right thing for customers pays back 
  5. You need to trust the front line.  Trust pays dividends and customers can feel it in their conversations.  Train what “the right thing” looks like and leave the rule book in the drawer.  These empowered advisors, treated like adults will deliver for you.

The customer experience battle could be lost, but won’t be won in the Boardroom.  As management guru Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.