According to Forrester, some 80% of CX initiatives lack execution power.
I like to add: and business impact.
CX is surrounded by fluffy and vague stuff, in part due to CX professionals themselves.
Research that translates poorly into action, CX departments too far removed from operations, too much focus on new hypes and tools instead of really understanding the business and adding value to it.
As far as I’m concerned, the ultimate test of your CX program is whether the employees in the operation say:
“Yes! This is adding value, this makes my work more fun, more impact on the client, more meaning, etc.”
Besides of course the basic things, such as showing that you have increased NPS or satisfaction in a short period of time and/or showing the financial impact of your activities.
And I do say “the basic stuff,” but even this is missing from many CX programs.
So I thought: let me list my experience of the past 10 years of successfully running CX transformation programs myself in 5 clear steps.
Step 1: Knowing how to influence CX
You may be getting a little sad about it by now, but I keep harping on it: 95% of all research doesn’t give you the right knobs to turn, the right drivers.
They (your tooling or research partners) call them drivers, but almost never do they give you the actual drivers that customers are looking for.
See previous blogs if you haven’t come across these, for example, “five crucial metrics that almost no one thinks about and the podcast “finding the drivers of CX”.
Many professionals and tooling parties lack the proper statistical knowledge.
Why is that important?
If you cannot substantiate that theme A is going to increase your NPS or satisfaction five times faster than theme B, then you are not speaking the language of the organization.
People may still say yes, but often do no.
Not because they don’t want to, but because they have 1,000 other prios and you can’t sufficiently demonstrate where yours fall exactly.
In addition, we also often stare too blindly at only external figures from surveys and questionnaires.
But you also have a lot of valuable internal metrics that you can do something with.
Common sense is the foundation of any CX program.
So if you see the delivery time of your product go up from 2 to 5 days, it’s safe to assume that your customers will be less happy.
So find a good balance between internal and external metrics for your journeys.
Step 2: Translate CX insights into improvements
Once an organization has gathered valuable insights, it struggles with the next step:
How do we translate those insights into very concrete improvements?
As far as I’m concerned, you can look at improvements on 3 levels.
The drivers (most important topics from your customers’ perspective) you found determine which of the 3 you should pick up first.
Level 1 = Behavior
In most driver analyses, we see that the fastest route to better satisfaction or NPS is on the human aspect.
Think personal attention, treating them with respect, etc.
Some of that is also in texts on the website, app, letters and emails, but mostly in the people, the employees and their interaction with customers.
By the way, just because it is the main driver does not mean that appreciation on it is always bad.
But if it is the most important driver, you also want to get a pretty good score to even better for maximum impact.
OK, back to personal attention and the staff.
In this situation, you want to mix two things: tiny habits and playfulness.
Both crucial elements of behavioral science.
I also wrote a blog about this earlier if you want to know more about it: “Successful Behavior Change with Tiny Habits.”
Level 2 = Journey
Usually it’s not just behavior, but there are other facets of the journey that could be better.
For that, you can use the 5 types of experience and do a self-assessment on your journey.
For each detail step in that journey (for example, “I get an email confirmation”), ask the following 5 questions:
- Brand Experience: Is this step 100% in line with our brand promise?
- Customer Experience: Is this step in line with our key drivers?
- Employee Experience: In this step, do employees feel optimally facilitated to give the customer a good experience?
- Service Experience: If the customer has a question about this step in the journey, do they know where to go and do we know what that service journey looks like?
- User Experience: If there is a digital element in this step, is it super easy, in line with our brand promise and key drivers?
Of course, where the answer is no or don’t know, there is potential for improvement.
This exercise also works very well in a workshop in terms of awareness, including with management and directors.
Level 3 = Moment
Sometimes with a particular journey, you want to create 1 amazing moment.
You can design that, you have to consciously think about that.
Here I have a book tip for you that not only is going to give you a lot of inspiration, but also gives you a framework on how to design these kinds of moments, what they need to meet.
- Transcend the everyday
- Give the customer a sense of pride
- Create moments that people want to share
- Inspire the customer, offer something to aspire to
For example, a very concrete check for the third point is: would the customer grab their phone to take a picture of this moment?
The book is Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath.
Step 3: Collaborate across all silos for better CX
OK, so we have the right insights and we have the first impactful improvement actions to take.
Most likely, your organization is divided into several departments.
Marketing, Communications, Service, Back Office, Finance, Operations, HR, etc.
That certainly contributes to efficiency – although I dare to argue about that too 😉
But it does not automatically help improve the journey.
After all, if I want to improve a journey, I have to collaborate across departments.
“Oh no, do we have to reorganize already?”
No way, please don’t.
Keep it super pragmatic.
As far as I’m concerned, this is where you again use the journey as a super powerful, simple tool.
You grab 1 journey as a pilot, create a team that touches all facets of that journey, pick those 3 internal and external metrics, and you start looking together at how to improve from this journey.
You learn from that and then you take the next journey.
Repeat this until all journeys are covered by one team and before you know it, you’ve secretly become fully journey- and customer-centric.
Step 4: Inspire employees to focus on CX
An example of a conversation that is not entirely hypothetical
Management: “Our people do not engage sufficiently with the customer, do not undertake enough, do not dare to experiment.”
Mirror: “How often do you yourself ask your own team what they did that week for a better CX or what they experimented with that week?”
In my experience, leadership, whether managers or executives, is never unwilling to take an active role for better CX in the organization.
They do struggle a lot with: “but WHAT specifically can I do?”
Therefore, help your leaders with very concrete actions that they can pick up immediately themselves.
Create a menu of 10 actions for them to choose from.
A few examples:
- Every day I do at least 1 action that has a positive impact on the customer.
- Once a week I share in our team meeting what I have learned myself based on customer insights
- I start my day by asking a team member if they feel facilitated to provide a top customer experience
- Each meeting we start with 5 minutes of sharing a recent client case.
- Once a month I ask at least 1 employee in the operation how I can help them enhance their impact on the customer
Have each executive choose 1 new habit and they will do it for 6 weeks.
Then evaluate together what was and was not valuable about this experiment.
Step 5: Prove financial impact CX interventions
“Zanna, why is this step listed last and not first?”
For a number of reasons.
Too many CX initiatives start with making a business case to try to get people on board and put CX on the map.
That was a necessity 15 years ago.
However, now we have plenty of sources, such as McKinsey, Forrester, etc. in which there is evidence that CX yields financial benefits.
Almost all organizations are convinced of this.
However, what people are looking for is: ok, I believe it will make us more money or save costs, but how should we improve CX so that we realize those benefits?
Then I refer you back to step 1: once organizations see that driver analysis, there is not so much the question of the business case.
After all, then they have hard, steerable data that tells them exactly which knobs to turn for the fastest effect on NPS or satisfaction.
Another reason is that people who really don’t believe in CX are also not going to believe in CX through a business case. There are far too many assumptions in there.
My advice is to first show that improvement actions lead to an increase in customer appreciation and only then – if people are still asking for it – start looking at a business case.
Should your organization still necessarily want that business case?
Then you can also create a complete mathematical model based on the statistics you apply in step 1.
With that mathematical model, you can show: if we go up 0.2 on these key drivers, that means 300K more in sales.
Don’t have smart statistics at hand?
Start by calculating revenue from customers who give an 8+ and compare it to customers who give a lower score.
I have yet to come across an organization that does not find positive evidence with this analysis that customers who are happy generate more revenue.
Want to know more?
We also did a deep dive into these 5 steps of CX transformation in a podcast.