Customer experience tools are just as important to success as a carpenter’s tools are. Despite the allure of technologies, carpenters still need their toolkit: drill, hammer, saw, wrench, level, and so forth. Likewise, customer experience professionals need to master basic customer experience tools to get the job done. The primary job of a customer experience leader is to make it easy for every role in your company to see the customer’s perspective so clearly that it compels them to act differently. Here are 20 indispensable tools for achieving customer experience excellence:
1) Trusted Advisor: trust is the basis of influence, relationship strength, and lasting progress. The equation for trust is [credibility plus reliability plus confide-ability] divided by [focus on others]. Your whole customer experience team can identify their ratings on each element of this equation and learn how to increase trust.
2) Stakeholders’ Language: learn the jargon and care-abouts of your C-team and of each functional area. Just as you make adjustments in your phrasing and approach for a newcomer, child or person whose native tongue is different, make it a habit to speak in terms that your stakeholders find relevant and resonant. Your stakeholders are all the functional areas of the company. When you create a message, stop before sending it to think: how does this apply to functions X, Y, and Z. Then say it.
3) Change Management: learn force-field analysis to capture your stakeholders’ views accurately and devise ways to minimize their resistance — and maximize their enthusiasm — for participating, collaborating, taking ownership of customer experience improvements and innovations, following through on commitments and centering their work and decision-making on customer experience excellence.
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4) Context: practice showing how your message is part of a bigger picture, and how people’s behaviors are part of a bigger chain of events. Context paints the setting for why something is important, relevant, urgent. Think of behaviors and metrics in a nested sequence. Think of customer experience management as a flow (not pillars!).
5) Storytelling: master the art of telling a story, with a key character, conflict and aftermath. Adapt this verbal technique to the way you present voice-of-the-customer. Use it for presentations of all types. Tap into it when making requests, announcing initiatives and goals, and celebrating successes. Think of yourself as coach of a sports team to draw inspiration for your storytelling role.
6) SWOT: elevate strategic thinking about customer experience excellence by using SWOT analysis — external opportunities and threats in-play along with internal strengths and weaknesses relevant to your customer experience goals. These insights can be instrumental in storytelling, context, and trust-building. Empower your stakeholders to use customer experience insights as primary inputs to their use of SWOT in annual planning.
7) Customer Lifetime Value: CLV is a prioritization tool and a motivation tool. For key drivers of loyalty, quantify the cumulative revenue (or profit, preferably) of the groups of customers who are happy and unhappy. Customer lifetime value helps managers see how much of their business is at stake.
8) Strategic ROI: in addition to financial return on investment calculations [gain minus cost] divided by [cost], show the bigger pictures of strategic gains and status quo costs. Strategic gains included new capabilities, alliances, freed-up resources, increased trust, etc. Status quo costs include remedial efforts (escalation and fixes of things that could have been prevented), wasted time and resources, including opportunity costs of employee turnover, customer turnover and lost sales.
9) Hoshin Planning: cascading objectives is a powerful way to make sure all departments and levels in your organization are in-sync in executing their contribution to overall customer experience goals. Cascade corporate customer experience objectives downward like a waterfall, then roll-up customer experience progress from the team level to departments, divisions, and corporate level progress.
10) Pattern Discovery: learn how to scan through raw data, cross-tabs, and multiple sources of data and graphics to find patterns that tell a richer story. This is a bit of a lost art in the face of automating data. Not everything can or should be automated. Bring in operations-savvy champions to look at the data with you to connect the dots to decisions made and to external and internal forces. The whole point of voice-of-the-customer and customer intelligence is to manage more wisely than your competitors do, and a treasure trove of insights is in the patterns.
11) Pareto Analysis: 80% of a problem is caused by 20% of the issues — that’s the Pareto principle. Here’s a way to do more with less. Show everyone how to apply Pareto analysis to customer experience data so they’re focused on the critical few issues.
12) Interrelationship Diagraph: this tool connects the dots between people, organizations, efforts and/or resources that spell the whole picture of an issue. It prevents “robbing Peter to pay Paul” or “shooting yourself in the foot”, so-to-speak. Looking at an issue as part of a system, and understanding what causes what inside that system is crucial in making changes that actually achieve what you intend them to achieve.
13) Root Cause Analysis: asking “why” 5 times about the reasons your company causes a symptom observed by customers is the surest path to preventing recurrence of the symptom. Do this in a workshop environment where a cross-functional group of long-timers and newcomers among your employees who are particularly savvy about the issue topic in day-to-day management. You’ll be amazed at the accuracy and speed of this analysis. Be prepared to do some broad-brush estimates of the costs of the 5th why, even if they seem to be “sacred cows”, and prepare your top executives to have an open-minded discussion about the costs of the 5th why.
14) SIPOC / COPIS: Suppliers create Inputs to your Process which produces Outputs that Customers experience. Taking a customer-centric perspective, Customers require certain effectiveness and efficiency of Outputs of your Process, which defines the Inputs needed from Suppliers. This is a huge pathway to making changes that will make a difference in voice-of-the-customer measures. It’s also useful for internal management of customer experience tied to external customers’ priorities.
15) Single-Page Strategy: maintain high visibility, transparency, accountability, and active executive sponsorship on key drivers of customer loyalty by using single-page strategies in ops reviews, staff meetings, customer rooms, war rooms, etc. While the abbreviated red-yellow-green chart streamlines reviews and focuses on outliers, customer experience management is too important to allow short-cuts and cop-outs that obscure these important ingredients of passion and progress.
16) Gantt Chart: keep progress humming with this chart that shows interdependencies of efforts. When someone drops the ball in their commitment the consequences become obvious to everyone. It’s a great tool for reinforcing transparency and accountability.
17) Mapping: mind-mapping, empathy mapping, customer journey mapping, storyboarding, and swim lane process mapping are powerful pictorials to motivate progress through shared vision and effective management of complex issues and opportunities. These tools can also be applied to your own team’s work: what is the experience of your team’s customers?
18) Design Thinking: empathizing, reframing, ideating, integrating, prototyping and so forth are needed for creative solutions to issues as well as proactive design of customer experience. Apply it to your own role as a customer experience professional and the experiences of your stakeholders, internally and externally. Challenge your team to create awesome experiences in the course of managing customer experience.
19) Data Presentation: learn how to present slides and spreadsheets using the context, storytelling, and stakeholders’ language. Be bold in pointing out costs of inaction. Make explicit calls to action in every slide, if possible: answer the “so what” and “clobber them over the head” with “next steps” suggestions. In other words, drive action!
20) Embedding: learn how to make customer-centered decision-making part of everyone’s daily habits. Do this by embedding “why this matters to customers” or “how has this made a difference for customers” in templates and forms and agendas of all kinds. You’ll be strengthening your customer experience ecosystem and policies. You’ll be de-siloizing processes.
Foster your career success by making a plan to adopt this toolkit over the upcoming year. This is a profession that cannot be replaced by technology. It’s a people-to-people role that requires a broad set of skills and techniques to influence customer-centered management success.
This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association‘s Blog Carnival celebrating customer experience. It’s part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day 2017. Check out posts from other bloggers at the blog carnival. And learn more about CX Day at: http://cxday.org
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