First of all, thank you. Between LinkedIn, Twitter, the CX Café and Customer Think, my latest blog post “Will Customer Experience Survive?” has been seen by almost a thousand people. There’s been a lot of engagement too. Some in reference to 6 sigma and a lot around CX – all about achieving tangible results that clearly show your worth. Along the way, some folks have said, “Thanks for the insight on where I need to be in 2 years, but how do I get a program off the ground?”
The good news is you’re not alone. MaritzCX has an on-going CX maturity assessment (you can take it for free here) across multiple industries and over half of all respondents scored in the “Apathetic” category – little or no processes nor an organizational belief in CX.
You, the CX evangelist, are the only thing standing between the customer and the darkness of a self-centered organization. Have no fear, though, there are hundreds of CX professionals around the world who have been in your shoes and are willing to help. Unfortunately, I have some bad news to share as well: Going from a non-existent CX program to an inconsistent, uncoordinated, program in the “investigate” stage may be even worse for your customers.
At first blush, you’d think the more sophisticated a CX program is (and not CX for CX’s sake, but a truly robust program), the better off a company would do. I did … and that’s generally how it works. When comparing year-over-year financial performance against maturity, however, there’s a dip at the second stage (20% saw improvement in the first stage vs 17% in the second stage – see below).
I welcome debate here, but my take on the reason is this: customers like consistency. As I tell my wife all the time, “The key to happiness is low expectations.” If your customers are used to a mediocre customer experience, they learn to live with it. Think about your experience with your worst service provider (e.g. the cable company). You may not like having to be on call for a 4-hour service window, but they’ve pretty much trained us to have that as an expectation. We live with it and for myriad reasons, we don’t change our cable provider. It’s when the experience is inconsistent that we get unhappy. For instance, if the cable company gives you an exact time for your service call one day and gives you a 4-hour window on the next visit, the experience seems worse than if it was just a 4-hour window all along. A study from MyCustomer backs my assertion by saying 7 out of 10 consumers consider inconsistency a “major annoyance”. OK – so how do we power through the “investigate” stage where there are sporadic examples of good customer experience and move on to higher levels of maturity?
When we evaluate customer experience organizations – either ours or someone else’s – there are 6 main areas that should be considered when trying to grow to the next level of CX sophistication. And, more importantly, those same 6 areas will help us grow to the next level of financial performance.
How consistently do you apply your knowledge of your customer? Every organization knows something about its customers – probably a fair amount. Are there processes designed and documented around that knowledge?
Beyond process, how does your organization learn about your customers? Is it ad hoc, reactional, transactional or truly journey based? And, how well is that information integrated into your company’s strategy?
How do you address your customers’ needs? Is it occasional and only from your high-powered service professional? Maybe you respond quickly and in a systematic way? Ideally, you’re anticipating your customers’ needs and delivering what they’re seeking prior to them asking for it (much less complaining about it).
What characteristics do you look for when you hire a new associate? Are you seeking customer-centric attitudes or just folks who have had success with a similar role at a comparable business? Also, once you have them on board, are you training them to enhance your customers’ experience or merely teaching technical skills (assuming you’re doing any training at all)? How empowered are your employees and how do you reward their behavior? In other words, are you hiring the right people and putting them in a position to succeed from your customers’ point of view?
How have you designed your customer experience approach? You’ll notice I didn’t say, “your customer experience organization,” because having a truly mature CX approach is more than just one team with CX in their name. It’s about a coordinated effort across the business that has a positive experience in mind for the customer regardless of where and through what channel that customer chooses to interact with you.
Culture is often described as the sum of all the components above, but it’s also the organizational commitment to customer experience. From top to bottom and side to side, what does your organization believe about customer experience and how well does that belief permeate each site location, business function and cube.
So while you’ll likely experience some growing pains as you mature your CX program, there is plenty to look forward to. Think through these 6 categories and take a critical look at your organization and your business as a whole. Where are you already doing well and where could you use a little more focus? As you continue to grow your performance in each of these 6 key areas, the data has shown us that you’ll also see a significant increase in your year-over-year financial performance. And that, my friends, is the whole point.