Decisions, decisions, decisions.

As customer experience professionals, we have decisions to make; we need to help our executives make decisions; and prioritization is an important part of our decision-making process. Tools to be more efficient and effective with our time and our efforts are priceless!

I’ve written before about prioritizing your customer experience improvement initiatives using factors that take into account the impact of those initiatives both on the customer and on the business. I’ve also written about Drucker’s five phases of decision making, breaking down his five steps into Part 1 and Part 2.

In today’s post, I take a look at the Eisenhower Matrix, a time-management tool to help you both prioritize and make decisions about the work that needs to be done. This matrix can be used in your personal life and in your professional life.

The matrix (shown below) is based on how former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II, made decisions about the many tasks he had to focus on every day. His philosophy was that we should be spending time on things that are not just urgent (require immediate attention) but also important (advance us toward our goals/outcomes).

How to use it? Start with your task or initiatives list, i.e., create a list of everything you’ve got to do. Next, define how you’re going to determine what’s important and what’s urgent (or not). What factors will you consider as you put the task into buckets? This might be tough to do, but it’s a critical part of the exercise – otherwise, suddenly, everything becomes important and urgent, and you’re right back to square one. You could use the metrics that I outlined in my post about prioritizing customer experience initiatives

  • cost to fix
  • time to fix
  • effort to fix
  • resources required to fix
  • impact on the business
  • impact on the customer, as well as
    • type of customers impacted
    • volume of customers impacted

… or you might come up with some other ways to help you put the tasks and initiatives into the different buckets (e.g., something as “simple” as: urgent means it requires immediate attention, while important means it advances us toward our goals/outcomes.) Obviously, for your personal tasks, the metrics will/might look different – or you might have similar factors, just with different wording, i.e., cost, effort, time, resources, impact on family, etc. (As a true work-life balance tool, you can put your daily work tasks and personal tasks onto the same matrix, ensuring that the two are more in balance.)

Once you’ve determined how you’ll measure importance and urgency, begin to place your tasks or initiatives into the corresponding boxes in the matrix. Those things that are important and urgent will need to get done first, while those that are important but not urgent should be scheduled for another time. You’ll want to rethink or delegate the tasks that are not important but urgent; get someone to do these for you (outsource it, solve with technology, etc.) so that you can focus on what’s important and urgent. And tasks or initiatives that are neither important nor urgent are distractions and should be eliminated; they add no value, so just don’t do them.

Forget about the labels for the moment. Don’t let those distract or deter you from putting items where they rightly need to be! Keep the list in each box of the matrix to no more than eight (even limit to five, if you can, so as to not feel so overwhelming). You can add more later, as you work through the ones already listed there. Within each box, you’ll prioritize the tasks or initiatives, as well, so they get completed in order.

As you fill in this matrix, you’ll quickly see how you can do things more efficiently and effectively by doing the things that need to be done first and eliminating those that should not be done at all.

I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent. -Dr. J. Roscoe Miller

Annette Franz, CCXP is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In September 2019, she 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.