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4 Assumptions About Customer Experience You Can't Afford to Make!

March 31, 2015

 

Customer Experience is trending! Customer Experience Strategy, got yours yet? Customer Experience, anyone who is cool is working on it!

 

It seems much like CRM was a “few” years ago, Customer Experience (CX) is all the rage now, and similar to CRM, it seems there is a lot of confusion over what it truly is, who owns it, how it is designed, delivered and measured for effectiveness. Companies have rushed into this and most are truly missing the boat.

 

So what are the big assumptions companies are making that may cause them to get it wrong?

 

1. Customer Experience = Customer Service.

 

Survey says? XXX (imagine that buzzer sound from The Family Feud)

I have visited hundreds of Contact Centers and Retail Stores, reviewed countless online support systems, mobile support apps, and IVR self-serve tools. Do you know what they all have in common? They are typically the end point on a Customer Journey gone wrong. They are the reaction of a company, fixing a problem that has already occurred.

 

Of course there is no question that Customer Service is a KEY part of the Customer Experience, in fact, customer advocacy has been proven to increase when service recovery is done right. However, when even conservative estimates say for every 1 person who contacts you with an issue, 14 don’t, or when a company focuses all of their CX efforts solely on their Customer Service teams, they are putting themselves at immense risk.

 

2. Boardroom strategies (see cartoon at top).

 

You would be surprised to learn how many times I am asked to diagnose a failing Customer Experience strategy or sagging Customer Satisfaction scores, and when I ask how Voice of the Customer was used in developing the strategy I get a Cameron Frye stare back at me (if you don’t know that reference is from Ferris Bueller please stop reading this and go watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off immediately).

 

Although it may seem intuitive to many, quite often the Customer has not been included in the development of a CX strategy. Yes, Steve Jobs said that you can’t ask customers what they want because they often don’t know until you show it to them. This misused and abused quote is about product development , which should start with your own hypothesis, not a focus group, as explained quite well in Steve Blank’s game changing Four Steps to the Epiphany. However, Steve Jobs also believed in staying extremely close to Apple’s customers to help them anticipate needs as well as being hyper focused on the complete User Experience.

 

3. The Chief Customer Officer to the rescue!

 

Here’s an interesting trend. Companies appointing a Chief Customer Officer and saying “ok C-Suite Sally, fix our customer experience problems”.

 

For a while this seemed quite progressive, innovative, heck, maybe even revolutionary. However, for a company to truly create a customer culture, everyone in the organization needs skin the game and there already is a C level title accountable for driving the charge…the CEO.

 

When you think of companies who win in CX, Apple, Disney, Zappos, Amazon, Starbucks, Tesla…these are all companies who’s CEO’s are outspoken about their unrelenting focus on the customer. Even in the Telecom industry, which has one of the biggest challenges with CX, look at a company like T-Mobile. T-Mobile CEO John Legere is obsessed with staying close to the customer and ensures all of his executives are pushing the message throughout the organization.

 

This doesn’t mean you should abandon your CCO role if you have one or avoid creating one. It means you can’t dump ALL the accountability onto this role. Instead, this role should be about execution with a focus on how to make everyone accountable while the driving force, the raison d’etre is still CEO lead.

 

Most importantly, remember, there is a not a single role in your organization that does not have some downstream impact to the customer. When you do your five why’s root cause analysis I promise you will see why every employee should have skin in the game.

 

CX needs to be fully integrated into every role from The Organizational Vision and Strategy to Recruitment, Selection and Onboarding, Training, Coaching, Evaluation, Compensation, Recognition and so on. It’s about building a customer centric ecosystem. Starbucks is one famous example of doing this with remarkable success.

 

“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” ~ Jan Carlzon , former CEO of SAS Group

 

4. Customer Experience is a Trend

 

In the age of globalization, we see that companies can replicate each other’s products faster than you can blink. Everything is just “like” the competition. We are buying “like” products from “like” brands selling at “like" retailers with “like” pricing. Add on e-commerce and truly, customer turnover is just a mouse click away (or thumb tap as mobile is now surpassing desktop as the primary internet channel).

 

This will only become more true with the continued ease for even small companies to manufacture overseas and access affordable world class technologies.

 

To quote one of my favorite entertainment properties of all time, Customer Experience is the “final frontier”.

 

Neal Dlin is a customer experience consultant, speaker, founder and CEO of Centrifugal VOICE (www.centrifugalvoice.com) and founder of Unsung Heroes Productions (www.unsungheroesproductions.com), a non-profit musical theatre production company that raises money for leukemia, mental health and poverty.

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