To Spur Action, Create a Sense of Urgency


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I wrote last week about the importance of change management for customer experience (CX) programs, using John Kotter’s model. This post dives deeper into Step One of his approach: creating a sense of urgency.

Without a doubt, this can be challenging. If your company is doing well, it’s hard to get people’s attention. Why tinker with anything if the business is growing? Conversely, if your company is struggling – as, due to COVID-19, so many currently are – noise and anxiety make it hard to focus.

When we look at successful CX programs, this is often where they move ahead of the pack. Those programs are creating a sense of urgency while others are content to focus on survey scores.

There are infinite ways to create a sense of urgency, but below are a few approaches you can try.

Dangle the hobgoblin of competition

Oops…did I just out myself as a former Dungeon Master? Hobgoblins aside, my point is that one of the easiest ways to get attention is to tap into executives’ natural competitiveness.

While I’m not a fan of any particular survey question, one benefit of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is that many vendors offer industry benchmarks. If you’re using one of the big providers – for example, we’re a Qualtrics partner – they can show you how your company measures up within your business sector. And it’s a rare senior leader who won’t show interest in how their competitors are doing.

Special note to those who have taken the CCXP exam: Yes, I know that every question with the answer “because a competitor does it” is marked wrong! But even if it isn’t the purest thing to do, focusing on competition works to create urgency.

If you don’t use NPS, or can’t find a comparable benchmark, you can also look to CX awards. Whenever our clients’ competitors win a CX award it drives them crazy. So bring up the CXPA’s Impact Awards (submissions are now open). Or, though it’s too late to enter this year, see if your competitors are entered in the North American Customer Centricity Awards. (Full disclosure: I’ll be judging the Culture category).

There are numerous other awards programs to check – the aim is just to find your competitors, then use that knowledge to show the need for change within your own organization.

Look for a survey dip

Let’s be clear: your primary source of data for a business case should never be survey scores. But a sudden drop in customer sentiment can certainly get attention in some cultures. That’s especially true if you can isolate the dip to one customer type or region.

This is not the most effective method, however, as most executives will likely want to wait and see whether the scores reflect a trend or a short-term anomaly. This is particularly true in today’s climate, where NPS results are already plummeting across a wide swath of industries in the wake of COVID-19.

For a more effective approach, look to self-reported behavior as a call to action. For example, we just delivered a final report to a large non-profit client. One of our findings was that in a survey of their best customers, only 1 out of 7 responded “yes” to “Have you referred [our client] to your friends and family?” That was a shocking outcome, as they expected the figure to be much higher.

Stir in customer churn

This one is sure to turn some heads! Losing customers is painful, but citing the numbers is an effective way to grab an executive’s attention. Similarly, a drop in order size or frequency works, too. However, simply the presence of churn itself won’t make the case for change – you need to do your part to identify why those customers left, so you can drive appropriate action.

Reach out to those customers to learn what was behind their departure. Even better, video record the interviews (Zoom, Teams, and WebEx all make it easy – just remember to get permission), and pair these accounts with a report showing the uptick in customer churn. We’ve found that the one-two punch of visuals and firsthand accounts make for an incredibly compelling call to action.

Check in with Finance

Have you ever met a Finance person who’s satisfied with how the business is running? Of course not. So sit down with them and find out what makes them nervous. They may be able to show customer churn even better than you can. Or maybe they can identify high costs to serve, which causes both customer and company pain.

Combine their numbers with any survey or operational data you have on the same problem and you’ve created the sense of urgency that will get you that meeting with executives. Just make sure to bring your Finance buddy with you to share the credit. (CX + Finance = Dynamic Duo.)

No urgency? No action.

In this instance, the journey isn’t important – it’s all about the destination. Find a method that meets your needs and works for you, then take the time to create the sense of urgency that will grab your executives’ attention.

That interest will enable you to get the resources – both money and staff – you need to make a real difference. And isn’t that why we’re here?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Tincher
Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers. This lifelong passion for CX, and a thirst for knowledge, led him to found his customer experience consulting firm, Heart of the Customer (HoC). HoC sets the bar for best practices and are emulated throughout the industry. He is the author of Do B2B Better and co-author of How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer?, and he also writes Heart of the Customer’s popular CX blog.


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