The capacity for businesses to evolve is critical in a fast-moving environment, and this means there's an increasing focus for many companies to keep pushing forward and changing. However, we can't launch into change just for the sake of it. There needs to be a clear business imperative, and that means being able to define and measure change to demonstrate value.
Organizations have now established the customer experience as a critical battleground and a catalyst for transformational change across all levels. There are three ways in which customer experience can have a transformational impact on organizations: revenue increase, cost reduction, and culture change.
To drive change, we need to help people understand that changing their behavior will enable them to hit their business targets, in turn getting them the bonus or promotion they've been hoping for. It is only when individuals continually change their behavior that we can deliver long-term, company-wide culture change.
How to Drive Change through CX
When delivering change, it's critical to look at both the people and the process. Ensure you focus on both, not just one or the other. By trying to create new processes without focusing on people, you'll build systems that work on paper but will not operate effectively in reality. Too much focus on making people feel great about change will rapidly deteriorate if you don't implement the processes to support them.
To deliver business value we need to bring people and processes together. There are four areas to consider that will enable you to build a customer experience program that will drive the right type of change, impacting the bottom line and changing the culture to support ongoing evolution. These areas are vision, design, engagement and action.
Most CX programs will have a vision. Whatever the vision might be, it's often the starting point for a program and is heavily communicated around the business.
An effective vision needs to be tangible, particularly for employees who aren't customer-facing and who might not understand how their role impacts the customer experience. With a vision like this, you can explain how each team can impact one or more of the touchpoints that make up the customer experience. This makes it real for people in back-office roles and connects them to the process so they have a sense of ownership and practical guidance for taking action.
Design is about listening to all the right people, using the right channels and the right touchpoints. Once these voices are integrated with other business insights, such as CRM data, you begin to understand the action you need to take.
It sounds simple on paper, but many programs struggle at this stage. For one, there's too much listening and not enough action. The first impulse is often to do a survey, but there is no point in doing a survey without a clear plan to use the resulting data. Programs also struggle when not learning lessons from the past. It's no use rolling out more surveys at more touchpoints without making sure you're getting it right at the beginning. It's better to start small, make the tweaks necessary, then roll out to additional touchpoints when you know your closed-loop activity is working.
To avoid these pitfalls, develop a framework on which you can build your overall program. By creating, for example, a library of questions to choose from at each touchpoint and ensuring consistency across all areas, you'll be able to prioritize actions across touchpoints and deliver immediate results.
Engaging employees with your CX program is critical. Find simple ways to show your people how to do the right thing and ensure it's fun or rewarding for them to do so. In many cases, the less prescriptive you are on what the right thing is, the better. In short, the trick with engagement is to set the example and get out of the way.
This is where many programs fail, and it's the place where they can least afford to fail since it's action that drives the change that businesses are striving for.
It's vital to get insight out into the business in real or near real time. Use concise, tailored, live reports that put the insights stakeholders need at their fingertips. You also can't keep a CX program exclusively within a CX team. Trying to do so simply creates disengagement from the rest of the business; employees feel that customer experience is someone else's problem. An effective CX team puts the insight into the hands of the rest of the business, giving individuals the power to drive change.
Last but certainly not least, don't lose focus at this stage. It's important to keep going back to that financial data, proving the value and success of the program time and time again.
Customer experience has the power to transform businesses, as long as leaders do not become a bottleneck. A leader's role is to put in place the right insights and measurement framework, then allow teams to get on and do the right thing.
Change might start small and build incrementally, but you can be confident that it will stick and deliver significant business advantage to your organization. Most importantly, it will give you an engaged team that will be able to continue the transformational journey.
Claire Sporton is vice president of customer experience management at Confirmit.