What your CX program can learn from my five-year-old daughter

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My strong-willed daughter just turned 5 and I have noticed a recent change in her vocabulary as her favorite word is shifting from “no” to “why”.  She still uses “no” a bit more than I would prefer but “why” is becoming increasingly prevalent. While this subtle shift from defiant to inquisitive is encouraging, “why” comes with its own inherent challenges.

Here is an example of a typical exchange:

Me: You can only have one piece of candy.

My daughter: Why?

Me: Because too much candy is bad for you.

My daughter: Why?

Me: It will make your teeth rot.

My daughter: Why?

You get the point. This happens frequently on a variety of topics.

But sometimes, that annoying extra “Why” pushes my thinking and gets me to contemplate some things I might not otherwise.

Consider this conversation we had one day when I was dropping her off at school while simultaneously trying to listen in on a conference call.

My daughter: Why are you wearing headphones?

Me: Because I am on a phone call.

My daughter: Why?

Me:  This a call for work that is happening right now.

My daughter: But you aren’t talking.

Me: I am just listening.

My daughter: Why?

Me: There are a lot of people on this call that are talking and I don’t need to talk so I am just listening.

My daughter: Why do you need to be on the call if you are not talking?

Me (struggling to answer): I don’t know, maybe I don’t need to be on it.

My daughter got me thinking – did I really need to be on this particular call that I wasn’t contributing to while dropping her off at school? Was I doing both my colleagues and daughter a disservice by trying to multi-task and not being fully engaged in either?

A lesson I am learning from my five-year-old is that sometimes it is helpful to ask that one extra “Why”.  I conducted several webinars this fall on the topic of “How to drive measurable outcomes from CX initiatives”. We also created an ebook on the same topic.  In both, we touch on three key pitfalls that prevent CX initiatives from driving impact. However, one pitfall I realized we missed is that many CX leaders are pursuing initiatives without asking “why” enough. The result is a focus on things that may not improve the customer experience or have a business impact.

I decided to apply my daughter’s approach to some recent conversations I have had with various CX leaders regarding their priorities for next year.  Please note these are somewhat paraphrased to illustrate the power of asking why.


CX Leader 1: We need to revamp our CX strategy but right now I just need to focus on pushing VoC content to as many parts of the organization as possible.

Me: Why?

CX Leader 1: My top priority is to increase the number of internal users of our VoC platform.

Me: Why?

CX Leader 1: The number of users drives the funding of our program.

Me: Why?

CX Leader 1: That’s just a constraint we have always had.

Me: What if we focused on helping your existing users gain greater value and use VoC results to drive tangible business impact? Could that help show your program’s value and help fund the program.


CX Leader 2: We need to figure out how to grow our NPS by 5 points next year.

Me: 5 points? Why?

CX Leader 2: That’s the NPS improvement goal that has been set.

Me: Why?

CX Leader 2: Higher NPS means we are improving customer loyalty and 5 points seems like a reasonable target.

Me: What if we identified the drivers of customer loyalty first and set objectives based on those drivers? Wouldn’t that result in a more objective goal?


CX Leader 3: I need you to provide me with benchmarking data around eNPS.

Me: Why?

CX Leader 3: We want to know how our eNPS scores compare with other companies.

Me: Why?

CX Leader 3: It’s the only way for us to know how good our score is and how we are doing.

Me:  What if we took a close look at the key themes and drivers coming from employee verbatims, focused on addressing the top employee concerns, and then trend results quarter over quarter? Wouldn’t that give us a better perspective on how we are doing?


In each case, the incremental (and maybe slightly irritating) “whys” – or just an additional line of questioning – challenged our thinking and helped us refocus on what was really important.

I encourage you to give the extra “Why” a try both in how you are prioritizing business objectives for next year and in your day-to-day life.  Just make sure you don’t overdo it or you’ll sound like my five-year-old daughter.

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