Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What are the Biggest Challenges in Delivering Great Customer Experience?

CX = Revenue is the essential cultural transformation.

Each organization has a different definition of what CX should be. It is critically important to build a formal definition by getting leadership, marketing, sales, customer service, and IT together in a room to speak the same language and setting the common principles and practices to improve CX. Getting organizations to see the value in delivering great CX has always been a challenge. They often consider this as a cost! Can a business become truly customer centric (meeting/exceeding customers expectations) Does it become all too hard or resource heavy?

Changing the culture and breaking down silos is one of the biggest challenges. CX needs to be part of the culture and needs to be sponsored by the C-Suite. As CX is so much about how an organization behaves, and not just what it delivers, the culture is key. Building a platform to communicate and engage all staff and channels with the vision is essential and this vision must be joined up with other major change programs so that staff can see how it all fits together. As long as Customer Experiences are only about the work for a few folks in marketing, it will never succeed. CX needs to be delivered by the business, not a silo. There must be continuity and everyone must own it. There needs to be a change in how CX is understood and a change in the metrics used to measure “success” in order for more significant lasting changes to take place. So a key theme is influencing senior leadership to 'see the light' and embrace CX - inviting them to speak with customers, attend customer calls, get involved in escalations etc could be useful. Engage senior functional leaders to take accountability for the results. Many businesses try to become more "customer-centric" without building a solid foundation to empower people and the business to provide great customer experiences. CX is about culture, and culture is not about people - It IS people. A brilliant place to start is by acknowledging the connection between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction as this is a huge and very underrated success parameter.

From a metrics perspective, the organization needs to show a clear link between CX and revenue. First it needs to define success. What does success look like? How will they know they are successful or progressing toward success? And this success definition goes back to the goals, mission, and strategy. The goal cannot simply be "improving CX.' There must be some definition around it. For what purpose does CX need to be improved? The business needs to ask themselves what they are trying to achieve and then use root cause analysis to determine where CX comes in and how it relates specifically to that goal. CX = Revenue is the essential cultural transformation, and it will hit the businesses soon if not already. And CXOs definitely need to be an essential part of the culture and shown to be a clear link between CX and revenue. "Simple Customer Journey = Simple way to Revenue" concept is something that organizations need to weave into their business plans and business case. Organizations need to believe that great customer experience equates to revenue generation. Savvy CX professionals know how to connect CX improvements to increased profits (revenue minus costs) to get the attention of the C-suite. CX improvements can also decrease costs which can increase profits when revenues are flat.

Silo thinking and a perception that CX is at best a distraction and at worst value destroying. Even with NPS embedded as a core business measure, it can still be a struggle to engage, especially if there is no clear line of sight to how recommendations will be delivered. Gaining support for CX is especially difficult when stakeholders know there is no investment for change. The core values of the business also need to be known, lived by and communicated to all employees across-functionally. The elephant in the room is not having the CXO on the CX leadership team. If s/he is not, it will lack teeth and traction. The C-level should also accelerate the removal of silo thinking which makes for a more effective CX effort. The obvious challenge is how often CX becomes just another irrelevant development program to be screwed over by C leaders. It's surprising to see how many companies still don't understand that their entire business is about understanding customers and their major task ever is to form a customer-centric organization always ready to support and deliver customer excellence across the entire value chain.

One effective solution to improve CX is setting principles and implementing governance practices. The best practices include such as, a group of business leaders at the top level who meet weekly for an hour. In these meetings, CX professionals are able to bring issues to them and as a result, they began to own them together as a business, rather than push them to one area or silo and hold each other accountable. This helps with a culture change and then organically opened the door to conversations about the vision, mission, and goals and then connecting profitability to the CX improvements and tracking and measuring it. This is not an end-all solution, but it is a great way to get business leaders actively buying into CX and starting to walk the talk.

Customer Experience is an amazing opportunity to differentiate from the competition. Nobody can really deliver the 'same' experience as a competitor. How your team handle customers from their first touch through to their returning loyalty is fraught with traps and challenges. So set three principles: 1). Be a customer, advocate. See it their way, see their likes and dislikes and be honest - would you like to be treated that way? 2). The devil is in the detail. Whenever you buy a product or service where the detail has been thought through and you enjoy the experience. Witness how world-class businesses achieve the same. The things that impress your customers lock them into being loyal. 3). Money matters. If you can link Customer Experience to 'premiums' - be it in prices, loyalty or advocacy of your products to others - then you have something bankable and valuable.

Great CX has become the norm, "understanding your clients," "putting yourself in their shoes," "going above expectations" etc, is what's expected, it's not news anymore. So the greatest challenge in delivering Great Customer Experience is being able to Evolve. And the only way to Evolve is to constantly have information on your customer, where they're at in their lifecycle, learning when to influence them and add extra touch points where necessary. Being able to place them a lifecycle - all of which are always changing. Empowerment is also a significant component, but so is leadership buy-in and management walking the talk.


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