Customer experience enablement is the set of customer experience management components for acting extensively on voice-of-the-customer to earn customer engagement and enduring customer experience business results. Customer experience enablement is comprised of:
- customer intelligence (finding patterns and insights across various voice-of-the-customer sources and operational and financial data)
- customer lifetime value (prioritization of customer feedback and actions by cumulative profitability)
- customer experience improvement (systemic eradication of root causes of customers' hassles)
- customer experience innovation (creating mutual value in a novel way for any aspect of the customer experience journey)
- employee engagement (involving all employees across the organization in proactively managing their ripple effect on customer experience)
We sometimes refer to these components as "middleware" as they collectively form a bridge between voice-of-the-customer and customer engagement/loyalty.
There are parallels (in bold, as follows) between customer experience (CX) enablement and sales enablement: "Sales enablement is the key linchpin required to help bridge the gap between business strategy and how they execute in the field; a strategic, ongoing process that equips all customer-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer's problem-solving life cycle, to optimize the ROI of the selling solution." — Forrester.
CX enablement is not to be confused with the term "customer enablement". which is used less extensively, and essentially means "customer success" or hand-holding with customers especially in critical first 90-day period after purchase to maximize product use/satisfaction.
Why is Customer Experience Enablement Needed?
The Forrester 2013 State of Customer Experience report discovered: "Despite 90% of respondents saying that CX is a top strategic priority for their firm, a shocking 86% said their companies don't actually expect to get much value from it." In our 4-year study of CX practices we found that a large percentage of current efforts in companies revolve around voice-of-the-customer and customer engagement, with relatively small efforts on the middleware. Among the companies that reported strongest business results, six success factors they had in common reveal the essential nature of the middleware:
- Coordination among managers of various CX methods
- Treat CX as a determinant of corporate strategy
- Present survey results to all employees
- Calculate customer lifetime value
- Expect owners of key CX drivers to take action on survey results
- Encourage cross-functional CX collaboration
While upticks in revenue may be seen through voice-of-the-customer efforts alone, or customer engagement efforts alone, enduring revenue growth requires the middleware. CX enablement has the added dimension of enduring profit growth by respecting the investment of customers in providing feedback to you, to the extent that your company transforms and aligns with customers, significantly reducing waste and non-value-add activities from the customer's perspective. CX enablement is largely about improving ease-of-doing business, with benefits to customers, employees, and shareholders alike.
General Electric Example
In GE Power & Water Air Filtration division, they were able to learn from customer feedback to shorten cycle time for delivering product to customers and responding to customers, causing customer satisfaction to increase from 36% in 2010 and 2011 to 77% in 2013. In my talk show interview with Roberta O'Keith of GE last year, she explained that these achievements were attributed to the use of lean/six sigma techniques, which have became part of GE's DNA in how they approach business issues throughout the organization. She says "When we get low NPS® scores or negative verbatim comments, we really dive into what's driving that, and find out whether there's an opportunity to improve a business process and/or product according to the customer feedback. We analyze root causes to improve the business process. We find it very helpful to work not only within the Air Filtration division, but also together as one Power & Water unit as a team to share and leverage best practices across the industries and customer types that we serve. We look at how we execute surveys and also how we take customer information and insights to make it actionable within each organization."
Roberta explained that "lean" is one tool set, and "six sigma" is another tools set. "When you're facing a critical issue or business problem, you can reach into the toolbox and find a tool that is needed for that situation. The tools help build business cases and ensure that the change you're making is going to have a noticeable, positive impact on the business, as well as measuring the value to customers in time reduction and so forth. We've been able to simplify numerous parts of our business by using these tools. It helps to take the blinders off and look holistically at a problem and how it can be solved, predicting impact, holding people accountable, comparing data before and after, and making meaningful changes both small and cross-organizationally."
"Customer experience is not owned in one function; it is definitely something that touches each and every function. It includes service, supply chain, finance and billing, and everything else in the company. Customer experience excellence requires a 360-degree holistic view across the entire organization, tied into your corporate mission and vision and goals."
Year of Customer Experience Enablement
Will 2015 become the year of customer experience enablement? More and more, I've been hearing people talk about the need for embedding customer-focus into the company culture, tackling pervasive customer issues through cross-functional collaboration, reducing customer effort, and improving ease-of-doing business. The CXPA's certification exam covers 6 CX competencies: customer-centric culture, organizational adoption and accountability, VoC customer insight and understanding, experience design and improvement, measurement and ROI, and customer experience strategy. These competencies underscore the need for serious attention to the middleware that earns customer trust. We'd love to see major inroads in CX enablement across all industries, because we believe that it's the key not only to seeing significant financial value from CX efforts, but also to making it easier and nicer to be a customer!