Over the 20 years of my Customer Experience consultancy, I have led Customer Experience program implementations. My best was with Maersk Line, the largest shipping container company in the world. The results were a 40-point increase in their Net Promoter Score® (NPS) over 30 months and a 10 percent increase in shipping volumes.
Implementation is everything in these success stories, and today I want to share the five rules for proven success with a CX implementation.
On a recent podcast, we had a guest, Michél Patterson, a continuous improvement expert in Lean Six Sigma who has consulted numerous industries, including technology, freight forwarding, and even the Department of Defense. Patterson shared her five rules for a successful implementation, which were:
Let’s dive deeper into each of Patterson’s rules, shall we?
Rule #1: Define.
For those of you familiar with Lean Six Sigma, you probably recognized the five rules. Patterson says that for her first project in the implementation area, these were the natural inclinations she had. For the first phase or rule, Define, she worked to discover what the company wanted to accomplish with the program. It is surprising how often this gets skipped and bad results arrive from cutting it. However, having that clarity drives the actions that follow throughout the rest of the project, she says.
Discovering this definition required talking to the team. Patterson and her team spoke with the customer service teams, customers, and sales teams. They found that there were many moments where the organization interacted with the customer throughout the journey. Therefore, they viewed the project title as a customer experience innovation, part of a business strategy.
Then, they needed the senior management to buy in on that project title. For Patterson, there was a contact, Hannah, who was that sponsor. Hannah sailed the project in the organization with the executive management board, and it helped Patterson move her project deeper into Maersk.
Next, she assembled her team within the organization. She included people in the organization from different parts of the world and at different levels of the organization. This diversity brought many perspectives to the project implementation, which was vital.
Rule #2: Measure.
In the measurement phase, implementation teams establish what they consider an improvement. It could be increased market share, improved NPS, or higher customer retention. Whatever you choose as the metric, Patterson says, it is essential to get a baseline early so, as you test things, you’ll recognize improvement.
In this phase, you also need to get the voice of the customer and the voice of the process. Regarding customers’ voices, you are looking to understand what they value.
This bit, you might recall, is part of Beyond Philosophy’s idea of the Emotional Signature. For example, I always share the story about Disney asking guests what they wanted to eat in the park and the guests saying, “a salad.”
But people don’t eat salads at theme parks; they eat junk. So this story demonstrates how people cannot always tell you what they value about your experience.
Regarding the voice of the process, Patterson says this was the idea behind the Naïve to Natural model we use at Beyond Philosophy. She wanted the organization to recognize that the way they had their customer process established reflected who they were as an organization. Therefore, it was essential to assess where the company was on the model and identify areas of opportunity to improve the experience there. Moreover, these were areas we revisited throughout the process of the Maersk project.
The measurement consideration comes at the beginning before we do things. People often assume that whatever action they take, the results will automatically show whether the action was successful. However, this assumption is false. First, one must establish how to measure the results. Then, once you take action, you can measure—and see—your success.
Rule #3. Analyze.
Patterson explains that by this rule or phase, an organization can determine what actions will result in improvement. In other words, for Measure, you ask, “What is the journey?” In Analyze, you ask, “Which areas can improve that journey?” Then you test your ideas in pilot programs.
There were three emotions Maersk Line wanted customers to experience. So, they designed pilot programs to evoke those emotions.
To increase success for the Analyze stage, Patterson and her team involved as many people as possible from the company’s various locations. For example, one engagement activity was a Brown Paper Fair, where the customer experience innovation team put brown paper on the wall and asked the employees for suggestions on what to do about things. In another, groups of the team would gather the information from other people, which they called Maersk Google. Patterson recalls that this was a fun activity that inspired one team to collect data (Google) dressed up in cow costumes.
Rule #4: Improve.
After testing, the next phase is rolling out the pilots on a larger scale. Here, Patterson says, is where you learn whether your changes implemented in the pilot are an improvement or not.
There wasn’t a massive budget in the Maersk case, so all possible ways to innovate the experience involved little (inexpensive) changes. However, that turned out to be a strength. The little strategic changes they could afford to make with their budget significantly affected the outcome. For example, more employees took ownership of the customers’ needs and thought about the customer in a new way. Even this change in mindset had an enormous effect on the experience. Best of all, the changes happened quickly, and employees loved it because making customers feel better made employees feel better, too.
Rule #5: Control.
The final phase is control, where an organization sustains its gains from the Improve phase.
The key here is communication.
However, communication doesn’t mean email. It meant getting out with people and working with customers. It also involved communicating with leadership regularly about what the team learned and needed. From there, the communication travels to senior management. Patterson says every day, the team learned something new, and with this communication network established and maintained, they could continuously improve their efforts to innovate the experience at Maersk.
However, this project with Maersk, and all the change involved, wasn’t without problems. It was a tough time for the industry, and the strategic initiatives by Patterson and our company were getting blowback from regions and countries worldwide. Consequently, the senior manager contact at Maersk, Hannah, decided that she would not require the other countries to implement our innovations and left it up to them. However, to our relief, 49 of the 52 country clusters (similar to a regional area) agreed to go to the changes.
At the time, I thought this was a bad decision to leave it up to the country clusters. However, it turned out to be positive. The country clusters owned the decision rather than having it imposed upon them, which empowered them and made them want to make the changes rather than “just following orders.”
Patterson says she has used these five rules in many different projects. First, you Define what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Then you establish how you will know if anything is working by taking a baseline with Measure. Next, you Analyze the types of changes possible, followed by a test to see if you were right. Then, you Improve those on a grander scale with plenty of communication throughout the company. Finally, you Control it by staying in touch to continue to improve and celebrate successes.
If you have a business problem that you would like some help with, contact me on LinkedIn or submit your pickle here. We would be glad to hear from you and help you with your challenges.
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