Lack of cooperation across organizations is a momentum inhibitor for customer experience management (CEM). Among best-in-class CEM practitioners, top challenges are:
* Cross-channel CEM.
* Organization-wide focus on customer service differentiation.
* Commonly agreed-to metrics.
* 360-degree view of customers.
All of the recent customer experience studies report broken linkages between:
* Functions’ and business units’ goals.
* Survey results and business results.
* Multiple voice of customer sources.
* Data and actions.
* Incentives and desired behaviors.
* Views of what customers want.
* Brand promise and what’s delivered.
Nearly half of senior marketers admit that high-profile negative customer experiences have compromised their brands. And currently, 84% of customers will register a complaint or tell others of a bad experience; this tendency is rising from 74% in 2007 and 67% in 2006.
Clearly, profitability is at risk due to lack of cross-organizational cooperation and alignment with customers. Effective employee engagement is at the heart of these issues. While strides have been made, customer-centricity tends to be an elusive aspiration. Only 12% of customers judge their vendors as extremely customer-centric, while 56% of those same vendors think of themselves as extremely customer-centric.
If CEM execution is broken, examine the foundation rather than fill potholes. Tendencies to focus on IT solutions, statistics, simplified metrics, customer acquisition, or isolated opportunities have over-shadowed the realities of people and processes and culture as the most important determinants of customer experience. There are 5 vital components to company-wide employee engagement for significant ongoing customer experience business results:
1) Systems Thinking
- A holistic view of the components of an entity.
- Comprises the components’ relationships with each other and with other entities.
2) Change Management
- 4 major steps are necessary before deploying a change: Evaluate, Envision, Analyze, and Plan.
- Stakeholder management is the focus for each of the 7 phases of managing change.
3) Internal Branding
- Living and delivering your brand promise.
- A multi-faceted cultural journey guiding everyone in managing their own impact on CEM.
4) Continual Improvement Practices
- Allow the company to be more nimble, responsive and proactive through organizational learning.
- Simplify complexities and emphasize fact-based decision-making through quality tools.
- Gain fresh perspectives and compelling reasons for change through frequent benchmarking.
- Focus on actionable, predictive metrics.
5) Sustaining the Momentum
- Prevent mis-use of metrics and incentives.
- Energize employees to reach stretch goals through ‘recognition strategy 2.0′.
- Require all employees — not just frontline employees — to build customer relationship skills.
- Emphasize product & service quality, as this outweighs any other efforts a business makes to convey trust.
These five vital keys can pay excellent dividends in customer experience improvement momentum through superior employee engagement levels that heighten customer-centricity and prevent customer hassles. In a dynamic business environment, there’s no realistic end-point to CEM; customer experience improvement is a way of life. As Dr. W. Edwards Deming said, “What everyone in a company does can be reduced to one of two functions: to serve the customer or serve someone who does.” As effective employee engagement increases, ownership of customer experience is adopted by employees organization-wide, leading to less waste and higher customer profitability as sustainable differentiators.
Note: Study findings reported above are from Aberdeen Group, Customer Experience Management, August 2008; CMO Council, Customer Affinity, July 2007; CMO Council, Turning Customer Pain Into Competitive Gain, January 2009; Forrester Research, Obstacles to Customer Experience Success, February 2009; Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report, October 2008; Edelman Trust Barometer, 2009.
Note: My new e-handbook Customer Experience Improvement Momentum includes techniques and tools for each of these 5 keys to employee engagement.