I originally wrote this post for Forbes.com. It appeared on the Forbes site on November 14, 2018.
In this follow-up to my article last month titled “Has Your CX Transformation Stalled?” I continue to outline why customer experience transformation efforts stall or slow. In the previous article, I focused on those reasons attributed to company leadership; in this article, I’ll outline reasons associated with employees and operations. (Ultimately, it’s all on leadership.)
1. Expecting Miracles from Someone with No Customer Experience Background
Some employees have been “volun-told” into customer experience positions because an executive heard that customer experience is important to the business. These employees haven’t previously held customer experience roles but were told they needed to take on such a role and head up the company’s customer experience transformation – without being properly educated on what that means or how they’ll go about developing and rolling out a CX vision and strategy.
These well-meaning employees put forth their best efforts to educate themselves and then begin to roll out a strategy that is flawed at best.
2. There’s a New-Hire Fail
Employees are critical to customer experience transformation success. First and foremost, you have to hire the right people (both management and individual contributors), i.e., those who fit your values and culture, a culture that should already be described as customer-centric. Beyond that, once you’ve got those folks on board, it’s incumbent on you to teach and train them about the customer-centric culture they’ve joined. Share with them where you are in the journey, how their roles impact the customer and the customer experience, and what their involvement will be as the transformation continues. Don’t let new employees be the reason your efforts stall.
3. You’re Not Activating Your Base
On that note, get employees involved in the transformation. Changing the company’s DNA is not a journey for one person to undertake; this is an organization-wide effort. There needs to be leadership from the top, but a grassroots groundswell is also required for the transformation effort not to stall.
As such, a governance structure is critical to the foundation of any customer experience transformation. It outlines who will ensure that there is alignment and accountability across the organization, and it defines roles and responsibilities key to the transformation, including a core program team, an executive sponsor, an executive/steering committee, cross-functional champions, and a culture committee. What that spells is a lot of opportunities for employees to take part in this journey!
4. Trying to Imitate not Innovate
Your culture and your customer experience are your own unique fingerprints. You cannot attempt to copy another company’s culture to serve your needs and your customers’ needs. This just doesn’t work. If you started down that path and things have stalled, now you know why. Develop your own unique culture and your own unique customer experience.
5. Change Fatigue Has Set In
Author Dawn-Marie Turner describes change fatigue as a general sense of apathy or passive resignation toward organizational change and notes that “change fatigue means that you have neither the energy to defend the current state nor the energy to move through a change process.” According to Ken Perlman of Kotter International, “Change efforts are all too often unfocused, uninspired and unsuccessful. As our research shows, 70 percent of transformation efforts fail.”
Why does change fatigue happen? There are a variety of reasons, but it often starts with a non-stop flow of change initiatives, many of which are “flavors of the month” or reactionary, with no thought given to long-term strategy, execution, goals, and outcomes. Each initiative requires employees to do more work – work they believe is superfluous – on top of their already overwhelming workloads. Oftentimes, the initiatives don’t have clearly-defined objectives, outcomes or owners. And if these exist, their importance and purpose are not clearly communicated to employees. Finally, employees never see tangible, relatable outcomes or actual changes as a result of these initiatives, further perpetuating the “flavor of the month” label.
6. Employees Are an Afterthought
I have said this many times: quite simply, without employees you have no customer experience. The adage, “Happy employees means happy customers,” could not be truer. But far too many companies aren’t putting employees – and the culture in which those employees work – at the top of the priority list. Employees have to come first. If you are not doing what it takes to improve the employee experience, customer experience transformation efforts will stall – or fail.
7. Technology is Not the Answer
Know that technology is only a facilitator of a great customer experience. It can help you get the right data to the right people at the right time. It can help you deliver the experience. But it is not the customer experience silver bullet. It is not the answer to fixing the customer experience. Don’t use it as a crutch. You still have to understand customer needs and jobs to be done – and figure out how technology can facilitate that within the grand scheme of things. But don’t slap the latest and great tech on a problem and assume it’s fixed.
8. You’re No Longer Understanding Customers
And, finally, customer understanding, which I’ve defined as listening/asking (e.g., surveys or online reviews), characterizing (i.e., personas), and empathizing (i.e., journey mapping), never stops. It is the cornerstone of customer-centricity.
Customers change. Their needs and expectations evolve. The business changes. New products are introduced. New competitors enter the marketplace. Don’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to continue to learn about customer needs and expectations. Don’t rely on what you learned a few years ago; it’s no longer relevant today.
There are likely more reasons your customer experience transformation is stalling. Take a good hard look at what you’re doing and where your efforts are today. Do any of these reasons resonate with you? If so, revisit and refocus. Up your game and get back on track. Your customers are depending on you.
Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She’s on the verge of publishing her first book about putting the “customer” into customer experience. Stay tuned for that! In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.