Prioritizing Your Efforts – Two Techniques That Work

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The word Everything on a To-Do list on a dry erase board to remind you of your tasks, priorities, goals and objectives

“This is overwhelming … where do I even start?”

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s beginning a new job or starting a program from scratch, it can be intimidating – even paralyzing – when we look at the seemingly countless things we need to accomplish to reach our goal. This is especially true when it comes to customer experience.

We hear customers complain. We hear sales people complain. We get instructions from our leaders to fix the problems. And the whole time it feels like the clock is ticking on our employment. We want to show impactful results from our efforts, but how?

complaing meme

Although it sounds simple, what I’ve found to be the best place to start is to understand what it is you want to impact. Is it customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, Net Promoter Score or a financial metric? Each business and situation is different, but I would encourage you to ask yourself what your key stakeholders want out of the CX function.

In my experience, it varies. The CFO typically wants financial metrics and the CEO wants to create “shareholder value” which is also typically financially oriented. A VP of sales wants revenue – whether it be from new customers or growing existing accounts. The VPs of Operations and Marketing … it’s hard to tell.

Twisted Arm

Understanding what your C-suite desires will help point you in the right direction. Likewise, understanding how aligned your C-suite is a tremendous help in avoiding pitfalls later on. What if your supervisor (say, the VP of Marketing) thinks you should work toward improving customer satisfaction while the CEO and CFO want you to improve customer retention?

It’s 1,000 times better to know that upfront than it is to find out later that all your hard work wasn’t really what they wanted. Even worse, sometimes you don’t find out (until it’s too late) that you were working toward a less-than-optimal goal. Depending on where you sit in your company’s hierarchy, you may not get invited to the meeting where the CEO says, “Our customer experience function doesn’t seem to be working out.” Aaagh! By conducting this Business Outcome Planning, you’ll be on the right track to success while avoiding frustration.

moment-of-frustration

Once you have facilitated the discussion (or have had a third party do it) amongst your key stakeholders regarding your CX goals, the next big step is finding ways to prioritize your activities to achieve those goals.

There are countless ways to determine what your customers think of you. And, depending on your situation and goals, I’m sure you’ll pick the right ones to utilize. There have been hundreds (thousands?) of blogs and articles written on how and when to use customer journey mapping, qualitative assessments, quantitative assessments and everything in between. I’ll skip those techniques in this blog and jump to the question I hear from CX leaders the world round, “Now what?”

At the beginning of this blog, I wrote about how having too much feedback can be overwhelming. If you’ve clarified your customer experience goals, though, you now have a clear path for how to analyze the data you’ve collected via the methods you chose from the prior paragraph.

Your next major step is to prioritize your customer feedback. How? By aligning it with the results of your C-suite discussions and Business Outcome Planning. Instead of kicking off 20 projects that address all of the pain points your customers have identified, find the areas of improvement that will improve your key metrics the most.

Different firms have different techniques for prioritizing, but I recommend taking your analysis beyond straight correlation. As you know, there is sometimes correlation between items without causation (for instance, margarine consumption is not likely driving divorce rates in the state of Maine (see figure to below)).

Correlation Not Equal to Causation

What you want is a measure of dissatisfaction or lack of loyalty and a calculation of that metric’s importance to the overall business metric (like NPS or retention). When those two components (dissatisfaction and importance) are combined, now you know which 1-2 projects will move your outcome metric the most and which ~18 projects can be left for when you have free time (meaning, never).

Think of being able to go to your C-suite with customer survey data, the story it tells AND your recommendations for the 1-2 projects you want to kick off. You’ll have qualitative customer feedback for those that are more easily influenced by verbatim comments, numbers for those that like hard core data and clear rationale for why you want to focus your efforts in a particular area of the business. In addition, you’ll be able to show how your recommendations address the outcome(s) your C-suite has told you is most important to them.

It’s a good way to get invited back to the meeting.

Image credits:
To do list: http://www.intentionalcaregiver.com/prioritizing-for-the-working-caregiver/
Complaining meme: http://www.collegemagazine.com/bad-habits-break-2015/
Twisted arms: http://www.illustrationsource.com
Frustrated: https://www.cute-calendar.com/event/moment-of-frustration-day/26778.html
Margarine vs. divorce: http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/05/harvard-3ls-website-.html

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