I originally wrote today’s post for Forbes. It appeared on the Forbes site on August 16, 2019.

A customer experience transformation is a lot of work. There are a lot of pieces that must come together, i.e., a lot of foundational elements that must be in place, in order to successfully transform your brand’s customer experience. I’ve dubbed these elements the Building Blocks of a Successful CX Transformation. When I’m engaging with my clients, I coach them through the process of getting these building blocks into place to ensure that their transformation becomes a win-win for both customers and the business.

I’m often asked by prospects and clients to conduct a customer experience audit for their organizations. Not sure what this is? Or if you need one?

Let’s start from the beginning.

A customer experience audit can take one of two formats or meanings. The first one is exactly what it sounds like: an audit of the experience your customers are having as they interact with your brand via a variety of touchpoints and channels. The second is an audit of the structure and strategy you have in place to deliver the experience your customers are having – or desire to have. In other words, it’s an audit of those Building Blocks I mentioned. While the former is important (and should actually be part of the work you do to design and develop the ideal experience for your customers), the latter definition is the one I’m focusing on in this post.

Why do you need an audit? If you don’t have the various foundational elements in place, your transformation likely won’t be successful. They’re called “foundational” for a reason, and if they are missing or incomplete, it will be a struggle to transform the business and the experience. Has your transformation work stalled? Do you want to learn why that’s happening?

Obviously, to get started, you’ve got to know what the foundational Building Blocks are. There are nine of them:

  1. Core values: the norms and beliefs of the organization. When combined with behaviors that exemplify each one, they are the foundation for your organization’s culture. Culture = values + behavior.
  2. Mission, vision, purpose: I’ve lumped these three together because most – not all, just most – organizations have these three statements defined and have shared them both internally and externally.
  3. Brand promise: it’s the expectations that you have set for your customers, the promise about the benefits and the value they will reap as a result of interacting and transacting with your brand. In other words, your customer experience aligns with – or delivers on – your brand promise.
  4. Executive commitment: the CEO and the executive staff have committed to devote resources – financial, capital, human, time – to undertake the CX transformation work.
  5. Leadership alignment: the leadership team must be on the same page; every leader has agreed to discuss the pros and cons and then support each other in driving and achieving the goals of the transformation and of the organization.
  6. Employees and their experience: the deliberate decision has been made to acknowledge that employees and their experience are the driving force behind the customer experience – and to focus on ensuring that employees have what they need to do their jobs and do them well, especially in support of the customer experience.
  7. Customer understanding: this is achieved through capturing and analyzing feedback and data, researching your customers and developing personas, and embracing the journey mapping process – and then acting on what is learned from all three.
  8. Governance structure: an operating model that spells out the people involved in the transformation as well as their roles and responsibilities, and the rules, policies, and guidelines on how they’ll execute the various components of the strategy.
  9. Organizational adoption and alignment: employees must understand, support, and want to drive the impending changes; in order to do so, they must know the who, what, when, where, how, and why of the work to be done. It’s safe to say that you can’t do any of this without them!

The audit is based on each of these elements and is closely linked to your desired outcomes for the transformation work. Essentially, there’s a list of questions that will allow you to evaluate yourself (or on which a third party will evaluate you/your organization) on various aspects that are critical to the implementation and execution of each of these Building Blocks. This evaluation should be completed by a cross-functional team of executives, stakeholders, and employees to get a broad-based view of the various elements that are being audited. In the best of all scenarios, every employee should complete the audit questions. (Reach out to discuss how I can help you!)

Ideally, there will have been an initial evaluation of your organization’s current state via a maturity assessment when you first started doing the transformation work. Having that initial baseline will allow you to benchmark, measure, and assess progress on your achievements since those early days.

The audit is a point-in-time – yearly is a good cadence – assessment along the journey to ensure that you’re on track and laying all of the foundational bricks before you begin to implement the strategy for a new experience going forward.

Once the audit is complete, it’s time to determine where the gaps are and what you need to do to fill them. The questions in the audit are typically such that it’s very clear what needs to be done to fill the gaps. Get your team together, discuss what needs to be done to take the organization closer to it’s customer experience maturity goals, set a plan in place, and get to work.

Audit findings are easy to come up with; successful change from a finding is true internal audit value. -Michael Piazza

Annette Franz, CCXP is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. She recently published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 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.