18+ Questions To Assess Your Firm’s “CXness”

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References to Customer Experience are everywhere, from annual reports and analyst calls to job descriptions and performance appraisals to business plans and operating procedures. There is a gaping chasm, however, between embracing CX as a core dimension of strategy and infusing CX thinking into the DNA of the organization as opposed to simply spewing the letters “CX” and declaring that the firm is customer centric. The underlying question is this:

Are you and your company doing the heavy lifting required to measure, monitor, and improve the customer experience and transform the culture of the organization?

Or

Is CX just another box to check on the to-do list of “tasks,” the corporate issue du jour that receives lip service without commitment?

This, of course, is a dramatic oversimplification. The extent to which an organization embraces CX is not a simple either/or situation. Organizations fall along a full spectrum of “CXness,” spanning from those that have barely scratched the surface of customer experience issues to those boasting fully developed transformational CX ecosystems. Most companies, moreover, aren’t consistent in every aspect of their CX activities.

Is your organization walking-the-talk and immersing in CX as a business imperative or just talking-the-talk and superficially paying lip service to CX? Recognizing that the answers are rarely yes/no and that there are multiple shades of grey, ask yourself the following questions.

Project vs. Program. Is CX treated as a project or a series of projects or is it institutionalized and programmatic? You have to start somewhere, but CX is an ongoing journey of continuous improvement requiring enterprise-wide approaches that are incompatible with silos and a project-based approach.

Staffing. Is there a dedicated CX function? And is that function led by/staffed with CX pros or by generalists recruited from disparate backgrounds? Generalists can be great, but you don’t see them leading other functions in the organization.

Centralization vs decentralization. This is a tough one, as it depends in part on scale. Even most enterprise-sized organizations, however, don’t have the scale to maintain fully-fledged CX functions on a decentralized basis. Independence of measurement and analysis as well as corporate strategy argue for more centralization.

Budget, resources, tools. Let’s face it, every serious undertaking – let alone an enterprise-wide transformation effort – demands support in terms of the money required for people, tools, and other support resources. If the money isn’t there, neither is the commitment. And if the money isn’t there when times are “tight,” leadership doesn’t appreciate CX as a core strategy.

Ownership, leadership, sponsorship. Where does CX “sit” in the organization? Who “owns” CX or is it relegated to a series of ad hoc project managers? Is leadership vested and involved? Where does CX report? If all roads don’t lead to the top of the organization, those roads are dead ends.

Business objectives. Are your CX efforts integrally linked to business objectives or are they driven by a “we need a score and a survey” mentality? If CX isn’t part of the business strategy, don’t bother.

Ditto in spades on your CX KPIs: have they been validated and stress tested as explaining or predicting customer behavior and business results or were they simply plucked from a lit review or the preference of the CEO? CX is a science and demands KPIs that stand up to the test of rigorous measurement.

Linkage, integrating data. Are you integrating relevant data from disparate sources to provide a broader picture and understand how the pieces fit together? 1 + 1 = 3 may sound trite, but the whole truly is more than the sum of its parts.

Linkage to EX. Case in point: everyone yaks on about the importance of connecting EX with CX, but few do this in a meaningful manner. Side-by-side silos still are silos. Unless you reject the premise that the Employee Experience is central to the Customer Experience, this connection is crucial.

Multichannel. The term may be overused and abused, but where do you stand in terms of the dichotomy between single-source surveys and multi-channel listing systems, including non-survey data? Multi-source feedback is essential.

Governance. Yawn. But institutionalized Best Practices efforts providing an independent voice require a formal governance structure. Let me reiterate the need for an INDEPENDENT voice.

Speaking of Best Practices. What carries the day: professional Best Practices or the idiosyncratic preferences of leaders with no real CX background and personal agendas? Best Practice programs are built on Best Practices to pursue the business objectives articulated by leadership, not leadership’s opinions about what constitutes Best Practice.

Communications. Is there a systematic, organization-wide communications effort regarding CX? Does this cover everything from rationale and company positioning to latest results, learnings, and recognition? It is impossible to over communicate on CX efforts and performance.

Action. Smart management sits atop reliable measurement. But measurement doesn’t drive change. Is your firm acting on its learnings or just issuing scorecards? If nothing changes, well, nothing changes.

Training. And are employees receiving the necessary training to take action and implement change? Even the most qualified talent needs training and direction.

Scorecards, performance evaluations. Are CX metrics a component of assessing performance at every level of the organization, from overall company performance to the contribution of individual employees? If delivering on the firm’s Customer Experience promise is everyone’s job, CX must be a part of everyone’s job description and responsibilities.

Analysis. Are you simply describing the data or analyzing for insights on which to predicate recommendations for action? Does that analysis extend to explanatory and predictive modeling? Text Analytics? Emotion Analytics? You can’t just measure the frequency of smiles and frowns and call it a day – it is imperative to dig in and understand the who, what, when, how. and why, not to mention the what-if, how can we, and what about . . .

Strategy & Transformation. Is CX part of the organization’s core strategy or is it a peripheral tactical activity? (Hint: core strategic initiatives aren’t cut when budgets are trimmed or relegated to the last five minutes of the company townhall.) CX must be stitched into the very fabric of the company’s culture to effect transformational change. This is a biggie, but if you are getting the right answers on the previous 17, you are on your way.

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