Now more than ever, relying on tried and true CX fundamentals will differentiate companies from their competitors and ensure long term success (and survival).
As we head into the unknowns of 2021, the CX industry will no doubt continue to rapidly shift and evolve. Forrester predicts that remote work will rise 300 percent from pre-COVID levels in 2021, and CMOs will focus on putting the customer at the center of everything they do. Companies now understand it is necessary to have agile operations while also placing the customer’s needs front and center. To remain relevant, CX teams must be prepared for massive shifts, so they can ensure their CX program can switch gears and deliver value. It’s easy to get caught up in the complicated new environment, with its added challenges and uncertain landscape. The solution? Return to the fundamentals.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Aligning business objectives with the following basic building blocks will lead to a strong (and agile) strategy that ensures the entire company is committed to putting the customer at the center of everything it does. Four areas of focus, if mastered, will get any CX program on the road to long-term success: clear strategy, organizational buy-in, purposeful analysis, and actionable change. While each of these fundamental parts appear to be listed in a chronological order, they are, in reality, both cyclical and overlapping – each one informs the others, and all contribute to the same overarching objective. A strong program foundation is created by developing a concise vision and recruiting support from stakeholders in order to drive tangible operational change that is meaningful to the customer and business.
Creating a clear vision and strategy
CX professionals need to understand the key objectives of their business, internal stakeholders, and customers to make sure their CX strategy is aligned with each. While developing an overarching vision might seem like a straightforward task, it can often be overlooked in the turmoil to address immediate demands. CX teams must help the company take a step back and go beyond individual fixes. Without an agreed upon vision and strategy, CX professionals will find themselves facing problems in the long run when program resources and engagement come up short.
Getting organizational buy-in
The success of any CX program relies on buy-in from stakeholders on the vision and strategy; without support from all levels of the organization – from C-Suite to the frontline – the focus on CX risks losing prioritization within the organization and investment. The CX practitioner must rely on influencing techniques and approach the challenge with creativity and resilience to garner support from internal stakeholders. Here is one approach:
1) Create a cohesive message that can be tailored to resonate with different stakeholders (who have diverse needs/priorities).
2) Engage stakeholders by reframing issues into a shared opportunity to improve the customer experience.
3) Align goals around creating a great customer experience. The CX team can provide structure and direction but success will be dictated by alignment around a common goal of customer-centricity.
4) Motivate others to become champions who amplify the vision and garner support.
Ensuring purposeful analysis that leads to insights
It’s no secret that data holds the key to making informed decisions. Every CX program must have mechanisms and technology in place to listen to and stay aligned with evolving customer needs. However, CX teams often get stuck simply gathering and reporting on data. It’s crucial not to stop there and merely become the keepers of KPI scorecards. Instead, CX teams must go beyond that and provide the organization with actionable insights and innovative solutions. The value of the data collected is not in the data itself but how you use it. If not used in a way that is valuable to the organization and drives action, the CX program will eventually become stale and fail in meeting customer and business needs.
Finally, all the above must lead to action – on a small and large scale. CX professionals must find innovative ways to address business challenges, identify needed actions, track success, and monitor KPIs to demonstrate ROI. In the meantime, there needs to be vision for the bigger picture beyond the day-to-day. In addition to individual initiatives, the CX team should set up a formal implementation process and governance structure where everyone in the business is aligned on their role to play. This will set the stage for a sustainable and efficient way to execute on strategy and realize the vision.
As CMOs put customers at the center of brand strategy, they will rely on CX teams to be agile to the changing needs of customers and how the company can support these needs with a new remote workforce. CX teams can meet these demands by considering their ability to act on the fundamentals. Taking an inventory of a CX team’s skills is a great place to start to understand if the team is up for the challenge. In doing so, CX managers will have the opportunity to leverage members’ strengths and develop (or build upon) weaknesses. If taken correctly, those steps will result in the heart of company culture revolving around and actively supporting efforts to improve the customer experience in a constantly evolving world.