Journey to Customer Experience Excellence


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I was speaking with a colleague the other day who asked me about the state of Net Promoter community in today’s customer experience oriented market. I thought I’d share my observations to a broader audience to help illustrate that embarking on a “Customer Centric” journey is just that, a journey.

Phase 1 (Adolescence)

I’m not going to even discuss the companies that think Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measurement system. Those companies have not begun their journey. So, phase 1 refers to companies that understand that NPS is an exercise in change, not measurement. They build closed loop processes, governance models and champion networks. They understand that NPS is more than a score; it’s a way to engage both employees and customers in continuous improvements.

These organizations start their journey with enthusiasm and good intention. They quickly engage employees in performing closed loop activities and begin to share NPS alongside other KPIs. They achieve quick wins, but begin to stall out when they can’t address root cause issues that require cross-functional collaboration. Hundreds of companies begin this phase each month, but few progress to the next phase.

Phase 2 (the awkward teen years)

Did you ever play the game “whack a mole”? The game consists of moles that pop up out of a hole and the player has a mallet to whack them down with. Frontline closed loop processes are like playing whack a mole; employees have the mallet and address customer issues one at a time, but without understanding the root cause this effort can only take you so far. You must get to the underlying root cause, the reason the moles pop up in the first place. Addressing root cause issue impact large populations of your customer base, and this is where you begin to achieve competitive advantage.

Why is this so hard? Two reasons.

First, it requires cross-functional collaboration. Often the only executive that drives cross-functional activities is the CEO. Without an executive who has the bully pulpit to drive these improvements and hold the organization accountable, addressing cross-functional gaps is challenging, if not impossible. The second most significant reason requires understanding of your customer satisfaction economics. If your customers are asking you to change your customer facing roles, implement new systems, or hire more people, how do you justify the expense?

Phase 3 (adult years): Experience differentiation.

So few companies make it here! Some have done it by building a business from the ground up with customer experience differentiation; companies such as Amazon, Zappos, and Uber. But most companies don’t have the luxury of starting from scratch. There is a current business model, fiefdoms, sacred cows, inertia, and culture that must change. That makes it hard to fundamentally change the way you deliver your customer experience. To truly innovate your experience, you must be willing to change the way you do business. Imagine a different world if Blockbuster understood that before Netflix, or if Yellow Cab figured it out before Uber. You have to be willing to challenge the status quo, catabolize profitable businesses, and engage employee and customers in ideation to achieve these transformative results. The results are worth it, but you must have guts to transform your business.

Deborah Eastman
Deborah has spent her career with a passion for customer success. As the Chief Customer Officer at Satmetrix her responsibilities include thought leadership development, consulting, certification training, and continuous improvement of the Satmetrix experience. She is a frequent speaker and blogger on Net Promoter and Customer Experience.


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