Process improvements in the call center, easier online search facilities, more efficient order fulfillment, easier to navigate stores, more helpful staff. None of these or countless other performance criteria sound especially sexy. Customer Experience or CX may sound sexy, but much of the real work in delivering a superior customer experience is better execution on the fundamentals, not lighting off fireworks.
So what’s the appeal? How can CX grab the attention of leadership beyond lip service and minimal budget dollars? Certainly it’s not in the measurement, the tracking and reporting of scores.
CX as a Lens
Perhaps the most meaningful way to approach CX is as a way of looking at the market, a paradigm through which to scrutinize the business and how it interacts with customers (and employees, for that matter). Think of CX as an outside-in framework for assessing everything the company does, the ultimate “sniff-test:” is the way we are conducting every aspect of our business conducive to improving (or at least not undermining) the experiences that will engage and delight customers?
Seen this way, CX is a potentially transformative perspective for managing the business. Imagine if every decision started by answering a question: what would our customers want? Or what will this mean for our customers? How will this affect customer behaviors? What the traditional business lens sees as a colorful bazaar of happy customers might be better understood as a Picasso-esque array of fractured customer relationships and arcane, unfriendly customer processes.
“Where we stand depends on where we sit.” The CX mindset simply asks us to sit in the customer’s seat and walk in their shoes as a way to understand and design how you conduct business to meet their needs and desires.
So Where Does it get Sexy?
This is not just the modern-day version of the-customer-is always-right. Sure, the CX lens sees the world through the eyes of the customer. But the goal isn’t simply to make customers smile; rather, this is a business strategy for motivating customers to behave in such a manner as to create value for the firm. Not to sound too Machiavellian or manipulative, but the cexy aspect is in managing the customer experience as a means for influencing future customer behavior.
CX gets really cexy when the company links its CX performance to operational, financial, and business outcomes to understand cause and effect and, most importantly, learn how to modify the “cause” (the experience that the company delivers, as perceived by customers) to alter the “effect” (how customers respond or behave in response to those experiences). While not as simple or mundane as ringing a bell to have a dog salivate, CX strategy should be conceptualized as delivering the customer experiences (the stimuli) that encourage the customer behaviors (the responses) that the company wants to motivate.
The desired behaviors, of course, are not new: continue to be a customer, spend more, buy more, give a larger share of spend, recommend the firm and so on. But it’s time to explicitly recognize that customer behaviors are not random. While there are many factors that influence how customers behave, at least one of those factors is their perception of the experience the company delivers and their relationship with the firm.
Sexy to leadership is all about the numbers . . . revenues, profits, costs . . . quantifiable outcomes. They want sex? Well give ‘em cex!
Address business questions for leadership by detailing such outcomes as:
- Why should we care about the customer experience? Calculate the additional revenue associated with a specific increase in NPS or your preferred KPI . . . or the lost revenue if performance slips.
- What is the value of responding to customers who express their disappointment with an experience? Illustrate the savings realized from risk mitigation procedures such as closing the loop with disappointed customers.
- Why should we invest in improving the customer experience? Quantify the incremental profits generated by customers who are delighted with the experiences they receive.
- Does the overall customer experience differ by store (department, business unit, etc.) and does it matter? Determine the differential rate of growth in year-over-year same store sales for stores with strong CX scores compared to those with weak scores.
Monetizing the results from a superior customer experience . . . now that is cexy and commands the attention (and budget) of business leaders.