Imagine for a minute you are tasked with improving customer experience in your company. What would you try to achieve? You know you need to achieve demonstrable results and you have to do this reasonably quickly without too much disruption along the way. A typical “alpha CEO” would most likely ask how much quantified impact you are going to make, over what time and at what risk. If you can’t answer that question, then expect the improvement project to enter the lower-priority bucket of conceptual sells or nice-to-haves which may or may not make the cut.
What are you going to achieve?
It is incredibly easy to immediately think about your goals by what you can measure. Conversations can quickly drift into lifetime revenue, conversion revenue, first contact resolution, problem resolution time etc etc. Totally logical, you can easily measure progress and if you deliver on some key metrics then you are going to be appreciated and rewarded.
Except it’s the wrong question.
I know I asked the question but only because a lot of people would ask exactly that same. It’s just the wrong one. If you drop into problems, goals and objectives at the start then there is likelihood that the bar will be set too low. That is exactly what has been happening in many customer experience programmes. I also hesitate about asking about the customer vision because that often attracts an extrapolated “cheaper, better, faster” view on where the company already is. Positive, yes, but still setting the opportunity too low.
I would ask why are we trying to get closer to our customers? If the answer comes back “we want to improve metric a, b, c & d” then that’s also the wrong place to start. Let me illustrate with a “why answer” which applies to NextTen.
We want to help build exciting, engaged and empowered customer-centric organisations
Yes, we want our customers to get excited about working with us and moreover we want our customers’ customers to get excited about working with them.
We want our customers to be engaged with us all through the change journey. We want to help our customers employees become dramatically more engaged – obsessed even – about a customer-centric culture
We want our customers’ employees and change teams to be empowered with the thinking, methods and permission to drive the customer to the centre of everything they do in a structured and agile way – irrespective of whether they are customer facing or not.
Yes, at some stage this “why vision” needs to be translated into metrics but there will be a critical difference. Outcome-driven metrics i.e. driven by the outcomes we create at a customer and employee level will be the target point. Traditional metrics are improvement-driven. An outcome-driven vision creates a level of differentiation which makes a substantial difference. An improvement-driven operating environment creates relatively little differentiation in the eyes of the people who matter: the customers and the employees. Outcome-driven companies are more likely to thrive and survive. Improvement-driven companies are more likely to struggle.
Customer experience should be exciting at a customer, company and employee level and the more we can codify what excitement means to our environment the more appealing we can become. If you are sold on the “exciting, engaging, empowering” vision, the next question is how? Because if you follow traditional best practice then good luck – it probably won’t happen. More on this next week.