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Do you feel like you’re not making the progress in your customer experience transformation efforts that you thought/hoped you would by now?
You started years (not months – it’s a journey – it takes time!) ago, but you don’t think your organization has evolved.
What’s the reason for that?
I’ve seen several posts lately about CX being all talk and no action – that it’s a lot of effort to pull off a customer experience transformation (and no doubt, it is!) with little to no return.
Nothing has changed. Lots of effort has been put forth to improve the customer experience, with no apparent improvements. Companies are still treating customers poorly. And customers are still complaining.
In other words, customer experience improvement efforts are failing.
I have a couple of thoughts on what’s causing this. We advocate, as customer experience professionals, getting to the root cause of issues. That’s the only way we can address this issue. So here goes. Here’s where I think the root causes lie.
1. Executives aren’t aligned
Executives aren’t aligned with the customer experience transformation journey – or amongst themselves, i.e., with each other.
Unfortunately, most executive teams are not in alignment; they don’t work as a team. Instead, they function more as a “working group” or as a “committee” than as a team. If they’re in alignment, they make a decision, support it and each other, and champion the decision down into their organizations.
Worse yet, they aren’t aligned about customer experience transformation efforts and what that means for their employees, their customers, and their business. I’ve seen it. If they’re not all on board, if they don’t all agree that the purpose of the business is create and to nurture customers, then there’s a lot of short-term thinking that focuses on the numbers rather than a long-term vision to transform the culture and the business.
I’m sure some folks will say that’s all fluff. But executive alignment alone is not the problem. It’s definitely one of the problems. One big problem.
2. CX is not a standalone effort
Listen. It’s all CX! When I continue to hear people ask questions like, “Doesn’t more customer focus means less focus on products, etc.?” then I know we are in trouble. Big trouble. These are not conflicting priorities. Customers and the voice of the customer need to be woven into all you do. Isn’t it all about the customer experience? Isn’t all you do in business for the customer?
Instead, customers aren’t considered when executives and employees are making decisions, creating new products, designing new policies and processes, developing messaging and communications, etc. They’re an after-thought. It happens all the time.
When we get to the state of “What the Hell is Customer Experience?” then we know we won’t be answering questions any more about how a customer focus conflicts with the product focus.
Money is being spent by businesses every day to make changes or improvements, and yet they don’t factor in the needs of the customer? Weird, no?
This is not about creating more work or adding more to your plate. You’re already doing these things: enhancing the product, changing processes, updating the website, revising policies, hiring new people, developing new training programs, etc. All I ask is that, while you’re doing your day job, you think about: your customers, the impact of what you’re doing or creating on your customers, how customers would feel about changes you want to make, etc.
3. It’s about the employee experience more first!
Certainly not last or least is the employee. In all of the posts about why customer experience transformation efforts are failing, I don’t recall anyone mentioning the fact that the most important component in the equation is the employee!
I’ve been talking about the importance of employees to the customer experience since my days at J.D. Power and Associates 25 years ago; sadly, in the heat of customer experience design efforts, employees are still forgotten. Company executives say: “We’ll collect feedback from employees later. We’ll incorporate employee input after we hear how our customers feel. We’ll do something for employees next year. We’ll think about our culture at another time. Let’s start with customers.” This is not in any way, shape, or form acceptable. Without your employees, you have no customer experience.
The transformation must begin with the employee experience. Solve the employee experience challenges and create a culture in which employees thrive, and you’re more than halfway into your customer experience improvement efforts; the transformation becomes much easier.
Are there more?
Those aren’t the only reasons your customer experience transformation efforts fail. But they are three key reasons: (1) Executives must all be on board, aligned, and walking the same walk, talking the same talk, modeling the behaviors they want to see. (2) Employees must be first; focus on the employee experience. Get the employee experience right, and employees will deliver the experience your customers want. (3) And the customer voice must be infused into all you do; the customer experience cannot be viewed separately from what the business is already doing.
The bottom line is that we need to get the basics right. If you’re committing any of The 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience, you’re definitely not getting the basics right. If you believe that technology will solve people problems or that it’s the fix for customer experience challenges, you’re wrong; technology – any and all of it – is a tool to facilitate the customer experience, not to fix it.
What do you think? Why are customer experience transformation efforts failing?
My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. -Abraham Lincoln
Annette, I tend to agree with your reasons for failure but do not necessarily agree that CX is “failing” based on my experiences in Australia and, more recently, the UK. It certainly has a lot more focus than ever before and the consensus appears to be that CSat is improving albeit at an increasing cost of service. Of course, expectations are also increasing which makes it more of a challenge for organisations to meet raised expectations. I think you nailed it with your first point in that Executives need to be fully committed to a CX strategy and to foster a culture of customer centricity that underpins a “transformation”. Without that, it will always be words rather than action. With the rapid growth of job roles with “Customer Experience” within the job title, the attention is there but whether these roles are strategic or tactical is a mute point. I would like to think that the increased focus will allow more organisations to be braver in fully embracing innovation, outside-in thinking and “agile” customer centric projects to start delivering on the promise. The signs are there but, as you say, unless organisations fully commit, it will be another organisational “transformation” that becomes to be regarded as the latest management fad. Thanks for the post. Great insights…
Glad to hear, Nick, that that is not the sentiment in other countries. There's this dark cloud in the US right now because it often doesn't feel like experiences are any better than they were 10 years ago, unfortunately.
Executives are definitely critical to this transformation. If they are not committed, forget it. It will never happen. Certainly not organization-wide. And if it's only happening in certain departments or business units, that doesn't benefit the customer overall.
Thanks for your insights!
Thanks for the post Annette. As you say, this is about starting by getting the basics right, which means thinking like a customer and building the experience around their needs. Recent studies from Forrester, and our own research have both found that for many brands, and many channels, the experience is getting worse – for example in the UK, top brands could only answer 44% of routine queries asked via the web, email and social media. More on the results here https://www.eptica.com/blog/changing-face-european-customer-experience
It's crazy, isn't it. Key to success is definitely that focus on employees. Employee Engagement has been getting worse, too… and now it's reflected in the continued struggles with transforming the customer experience.
Fully agree! A company can only become customer excellent through employee excellence. And that only is achieved by leadership excellence. CX <- EX <- LX. And since customer experience is a company wide effort, the executive management team should embrace team work and CX to its core. Maybe one last edition: CX and EX is based on empathy. Our scholar systems and culture have been over-glorifying IQ and seriously neglecting EQ. Time to focus on embedding more empathy and EQ into scholar systems, culture and especially (and preferably accelerated) company cultures and board rooms.
Love that. Empathy is a huge part!