One of the pleasures of my role is that I get to meet people new to customer experience (CX). Being a relatively new discipline, CX doesn’t have much bench strength, so we bring in others from other disciplines who have the passion, but not the experience.
This post is dedicated to those who have a passion for improving their customers’ experience, but aren’t 100% sure where to start. The items below aren’t completely linear—you can’t wait until one is done before you start the next—but they do list a good order in which to begin.
Start with Your Existing Business Strategy
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This is theoretically simple for an internal hire, but that theory frequently breaks down. Review what you know about your existing business strategy. Read your annual report. Listen to your CEO speak. Creating a customer strategy that doesn’t fit into the business strategy isn’t doing anybody any favors – including your customers. You need to understand the business’s priorities first. You may eventually want to change this strategy – but discovering existing priorities is critical to guiding your next steps.
Learn from the Masters
Every year or so, the CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Associate) members collaborate on our forum to gather the critical must-read items. I recommend starting with Outside In, then reading The Effortless Experience, and finally tackling Chief Customer Officer. I find that Chief Customer Officer 2.0 isn’t really a sequel to the original Chief Customer Officer. Both provide distinct and critical information, so I recommend the counter-intuitive advice of reaching both.
Join the CXPA and engage in the daily forums. Meet your peers and learn what they do. Use this to discover what to look for in the rest of the process.
Discover what’s known today
You may have already done this. But revisit it once you’ve learned more about CX. Visit your oft-neglected market research team to see what work they’ve done. Look for journey maps – even if they were only conducted internally.
Discover what metrics and measurements are currently being tracked. Then take a close look. When scores are higher, are business results also higher? If your customer scores don’t reflect business outcomes, then you’re not measuring the right things.
Don’t forget business KPIs, as these often drive employee behavior even more than do customer KPIs. And look at any employee engagement metrics that exist, as these should also give you strong clues as to how you’re doing.
Meet – and Map – Your Stakeholders
Now that you have a solid baseline, conduct a road trip to your stakeholders. Visit the leaders in sales, marketing, operations, your call centers – meet with all of the silos, including IT and HR. These last two are frequently neglected, but have a tremendous impact on your CX.
Then map out the stakeholders to understand their level of support and where you most need to focus.
Shadow Your Customer-Facing Teams
Spend time watching your customer-facing teams in action. Go on sales calls. Listen in on support calls. Better yet, take a few support calls yourself (while under an existing agent’s watching eye, of course!).
If possible, go “undercover customer” to see what it’s like from a customer’s perspective.
Talk with Your Customers
You’ll certainly do some of this while shadowing your customer-facing teams. But go further. Participate in or create a customer advisory board. Interview customers on your own. Go deeper than you can in just a quick visit.
Build Your Plan
Now you’re finally ready to build a plan. Your plan should involve multiple areas:
- Discovery Plan – what research is missing? What journeys need to be researched?
- Measurement Plan – do your existing measurements accurately reflect what you learned?
- Improvement Plan – where do you need to focus your attention? What are the quick wins?
This plan isn’t one-and-done. Keep engaging your stakeholders, talking to your customers, and making plans. But taking the time to get a detailed reading on your current state is the best way to build a plan to make real customer-focused change.