How to Increase Your Odds of CX Success? Measure Less. Talk More.

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We measure CX more often, in more depth and in more ways than ever before. We are surrounded by mountains of data and metrics and dashboards. And yet, less than 1/3 of CX initiatives are successful.

What if the answer was less measuring, fewer numbers?

This winter, Norway, a nation of only 5.2 million people, left the PyeongChang Olympics with more medals than any country on the planet.

Countless articles were then written following the games, most delving into how the small country managed such a feat. Many of them seemed to boil down the secret to their success as follows:

Winning by not focusing on winning.

As a nation, they focus on fun, friendship, camaraderie and they don’t keep score (much).  

Organized youth sports teams cannot keep score until the athletes are 13. They believe you learn more when you can play and experiment when you’re not being counted, when you’re not being judged, when you’re not feeling anxious.

And after 13? Their Olympic teams are keeping score of course, but it’s not the most important thing. They focus on having fun together, eating together, and learning from each other – sharing everything they know to help everyone get better.

The social fabric of the team comes first.

Does this ring any bells?

You probably remember Zappos shocking the call-centre world when they said they don’t measure the most popular call-centre metric of all time – “talk time” – and how they would focus on sharing stories about their unique culture as their key CX ingredient.

Or maybe you think of CX Index darling USAA who tops the charts year after year, and who is known to share that connecting to, talking about, and staying true to their mission and core purpose is their north star – not an NPS score.

There are many examples like these, and yet, we seem on average to be measuring more, not less.

But, when you focus on why you do what you do, and on conversations more than numbers, you create a more engaging experience for your team, you foster more innovation and growth, and you deliver better, more sustainable business results.

Like many companies, at TELUS we do love our numbers, but we’re pushing ourselves to try something new. We’re stepping way out of our comfort zone and experimenting with rating-less performance reviews, the next evolution of our Customer First culture.

Why?

There are lots of reasons, but I’ll give you 2 big ones:

1. We want to spend time on what matters

Our current process for reviewing the performance of our team members was once in lock-step with our needs. Then it started to feel limiting. We found we were spending more time on measures, ratings, and rankings and not enough time on what matters.

We started to imagine what it would be like if we refocused this time and energy on conversations, on coaching, on getting better.

So right now we are experimenting with simplifying the process by replacing year-end performance review ratingsand the associated admin work, with more frequent performance conversations – no ratings.

Our Customer First focus requires continuous listening, learning and adapting to better meet the needs of our customers. Instead of metrics, a conversation-based approach to performance reviews better aligns with how we want to work – spending our time on how to get better every day.

2. We want to drive engagement and innovation

And the conversations we’re having? They focus on the future. They focus on behaviours. Specific. Tangible. What have you learned? What could you do next? How? What else might be possible? What would be a bold or ambitious next step? What help do you need?

We’re tapping into the experience and creativity of our team members, putting them in the driver’s seat to generate ideas, to experiment. We’re doing this with the aim of creating an environment where we are continually evolving our thinking and innovating a little bit every day. Where team members feel more inspired and connected to the work they do.

Leveraging forward-focussed performance conversations creates an incredibly powerful, engaging, and scalable innovation engine. Everyone is involved. Everyday.

It is still early days for us experimenting with rating-less performance reviews, but the feedback is encouraging – we’rehearing that it’s a more thoughtful and engaging approach, and it is easier to focus on how to have real impact.

So what’s the “So what?” for CX?

You just might increase your CX performance, your impact, by focussing less on the numbers.

Here are 3 ways to do this right now:

1. Spend less time measuring

  • Simplify the process. Spending too much time measuring? Consider a vendor partner to do the work or ask your current partner to simplify and take on more so you can spend your time on what really matters – improving the experience you deliver.
  • Declutter regularly. Are you acting on all the data you collect? Consider dropping those things that are measured but rarely used to make time and space for more meaningful data.
  • And if you haven’t already, “acid test” your metrics – make sure they measure and predict what you care about, that they are meaningful for your Do not be swayed to add measures just because others are. CX metrics are not one-size-fits-all!
  • Don’t introduce metrics when people are learning something new. The pressure to achieve a number can lead to gaming or quick but unsustainable results. Let them play, experiment, and find what works and what doesn’t. Then ease into measuring.

2. Spend more time talking

  • Make time for discussion. When sharing your latest CX results, allow more time on your agenda for discussion and planning next steps than reviewing the numbers – discussion and planning are the most important part.
  • Ask more questions. Look forward. Ask questions that will help you move the needle: What have we learned? What could we do next? How? What else might be possible? What would be a bold or ambitious next step? What help do we need? Etc.
  • Get specific. Talk about what you are going to do – what are the specific activities, steps and behaviours that need to happen now? Why? Who needs to do these? Where? When? How?

3. Check in regularly

  • Don’t wait for a number. Or for a report to be released. Check in regularly to discuss progress on your goals. What’s working? What’s not? What can we do next? Etc. You’ll generate more ideas, it will be easier to make changes when you need to, and it will keep people engaged and motivated.

I’m not suggesting you stop measuring altogether, far from it. But just because we can measure more things and with more sophistication than ever before, doesn’t mean we should make it our primary focus.

If I could go back in time to when I first started in CX I would definitely tell myself to always measure less and talk more. Not to be lured into spending the majority of the time on measuring and analysis which can be an easy trap to fall into. No matter what point you are at in your CX journey – just starting out, a few years in, or a seasoned expert – I believe that the conversations are still the most important part of the work.

So, consider giving metrics a smaller seat at your table.

Consider giving more air time to why you do what you do, and to conversations more than numbers. You’ll create a more engaging experience for your team; you’ll foster more innovation and growth, and deliver better, more sustainable business results.

You have big CX plans. Make sure they happen!

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