There’s been some debate in the customer experience community about how to keep CX vibrant and as beneficial as possible. As part of that discussion, there was some disagreement around how to build momentum for a CX program. Should you try to tackle giant, very meaningful initiatives first to completely embed CX as an imperative for your business or should you start slowly, build momentum and grow your program steps at a time? After trying it both ways with multiple companies and with different teams, I’ve come to believe in the “crawl, walk, run” approach. Here’s why:
Attempting to tackle giant initiatives requires people, resources, money, time and most of all … patience. Some leaders can create a vision, dedicate resources to it and be comfortable waiting for successful outcomes.
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“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win” – President John F. Kennedy
However, it’s been my experience that for every President Kennedy, there are hundreds of leaders who quickly want to see evidence that their long-term investment is going to pay off. Perhaps they have to prove it to their own leadership, their Board or even to themselves – is this CX thing going to work? “Belief” in today’s business world – especially after the Great Recession – is in short supply. Proof is far more often required.
Think about weight loss as an analogy. Like customer experience, you know it’s worked for others, you know it’s a good idea, you know it’s going to be hard, you know you can’t do it all by yourself so … Do you holistically plan for gastric bypass surgery, hire a personal chef, start working with a personal trainer and buy a high-end gym membership?
Or, do you start walking in the neighborhood, tell some friends you want to run/walk a 5K in a few months and cut out sweets after dinner? I would submit that most people don’t have the time, money, resources or patience to invest in the items in the previous paragraph. Instead, they have a goal (say, lose 20 lbs.) and want to see some results to know they’re on the right track. Customer experience programs work the same way.
With that in mind, here are four great places to focus when starting and/or building customer experience momentum:
1. Know what your customers feel. Start a dialogue with your customers – at scale – so you can understand what’s working and what isn’t (and how it’s changing over time). You may want to start with a customer journey map to help you decide what/where to measure your customers’ sentiments and then use a tool that truly connects with your customers. You can see this Future of Customer Experience Measurement article for survey ideas.
2. Prioritize 1-2 projects that will move the needle on a business metric. So not just Net Promoter Score or customer satisfaction, but something like revenue or customer retention that lines up with your overall business goals. Even though I’m advocating starting small, our steps need to be working in the direction of our ultimate business goal (whether it be putting a man on the moon, losing weight or increasing revenue). When I led Marketing at Genworth Financial, we ran a pilot with a small group of B2B customers that could order insurance using a streamlined application process. We quickly saw it was increasing our share of wallet with those customers and brought Finance in to verify it was worth about $250MM in additional business. In case you’re wondering, an extra $250MM in new business really helps build momentum for CX!
3. Use an effort/benefit measure – even if it’s qualitative – to decide what to fix. Without knowing your business, I’m willing to bet you have some major IT initiative that would solve a lot of problems, but would cost $2MM and require a year or more to complete. That’s probably not the right place to start. Instead, choose something that has limited scope. The limited scope helps in taking small steps to build momentum and it also helps in clearly quantifying the impact of your improvement. If your solution cuts across the entire business, who’s to say it was CX that made the difference?
4. Share your success with employees and leadership. I probably didn’t need to remind you to share your success with your leadership team(!), but it’s important to share your research and success with employees for a variety of reasons. You’ll build customer empathy by sharing what you learned about how customers feel about your product/service – this will drive a better customer experience by itself. Likewise, employees will see the impact of improving CX so they’ll be more inclined to participate/contribute the next time you need resources.
Clearly, I have an opinion on this topic, but I’m interested in yours as well. Have you seen the “crawl, walk, run” approach work best or are you a fan of “going for the gold” right out of the gate?
Please leave a comment so we can collectively continue to make customer experience a key component in achieving our business goals. Thank you!
Crawl, walk, run: https://greatcloudmigration.wordpress.com/tag/crawl-walk-run/
President Kennedy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_choose_to_go_to_the_Moon