I’m a blue slope skier. I’m not a bad skier, I just prefer taking my time and soaking in the scenery over shrieking like a chimpanzee on fire as I create a yard sale of ski gear strewn down the slope.
Once, while skiing with a good friend (who remains a good friend, even after this incident), I learned a ski lesson that will stay with me forever.
Somewhere in the vicinity of 11,000-foot elevation, my friend pointed to his watch and reminded me that Happy Hour started in less than an hour.
“Let’s take a shortcut,” he suggested. I looked to my left. Ah…my old friend the blue square. My gaze slowly followed his pointing finger to a sign featuring two black diamonds like the eyes of a serpent.
“Uh…I think I’ll pass,” I said, “save a beer for me.”
“C’mon, don’t be chicken.” Now I’m no Marty McFly. It wasn’t the challenge of a double diamond that swayed me. It was the timeframe. I knew my path would take me an additional 45 minutes to an hour to reach the bottom of the mountain.
So I tipped my skis over the precipice and learned my lesson. A lesson that involved a ranger, an idling snowmobile and a clandestine, after-dark drop in a location out-of-sight of my ski party (to protect my pride, as if I had any left). I’ve still never told my friends how I got down the mountain. So don’t tell anyone. Let’s keep it between us, okay?
Anyway, the lesson I learned was hard, fatiguing, frustrating and took twice the time it would have taken me to follow my planned path.
So I speak from experience when I advise our customers not to take short cuts. However, I still see companies constantly take shortcuts when it comes to transforming the organization’s Customer Experience focus.
Here are some common CX design shortcuts:
Believing you already know how your customers buy. In the rush to see results, so many companies step right over this stage. Without gaining an understanding of touchpoints, timeline, moments of truth, functional and emotional goals and obstacles to purchase, the result is a customer experience transformation plagued with customer insight blind spots. Worse yet, while designing the CX processes, it’s often easy for the organization to overlook customer priorities in the interest of the company concerns. I’m not suggesting your team is wrong in their understanding of your customer, it’s just common to make assumptions based on past experiences instead of customer needs. In fact, designing a customer experience with the teams’ assumptions may provide a better experience than you currently have, but a stronger design evolves from a multi-faceted mapping of the customer journey including external customer input. In addition, a solid start makes it easier to backfill processes later, as budget and time resources allow.
Thinking CX will take on a life of its own. This could be said for many corporate initiatives. A lot of planning, not enough action steps to gain momentum. The energy of transforming your organization is palpable at first, but what happens a few weeks in? How do we turn your data into meaningful, motivational insights? What do we need to do to help your internal team understand those insights? What tools or processes are needed? Are there constant updates to the plan and new goals set? How are we measuring success? Which are the customer’s highest priorities that also have a reasonable timeline and ROI for your organization? What is the plan for maintaining the team’s focus until results are achieved? Dig your poles in, push off and follow your course.
Assuming management can do it on your own. Your product is your people. Nowhere is this more accurate than during the design of customer experience processes. Everyone is a stakeholder. Without their genuine understanding and buy-in, you could begin to see indifference at best, hostility at worst. It can become viewed as adding burden to their already full plate. It’s important to create simple, easy-to-understand company culture, customer profiles and a brand CoreStory™, then reinforce the activities that demonstrate these traits to the end customer. It begins by conducting in-depth interviews of your employees to understand how your organizational habits can differ from your organizational processes. Ask for their input around tools or potential obstacles. Provide them with a process for suggesting changes to the implementation. Make sure each person understands their personal role in transforming your company. Tie individual and team employee goals to positive achievements in the customer experience transformation process. Create regular and transparent communication of results and program changes. Help them feel part of the process.
Assuming management only needs to provide the strategy. According to a collaborative Forrester Research/Temkin Group study, as an organization moves through the stages of customer experience maturity, the initial stages require active leadership involvement. Your employee team needs to see not just the support of their leadership, but leadership by example. Your transformational efforts should occupy large portions of your staff and executive meeting agendas. Metrics for leadership should be transparent for your employees to help engage their support of your effort. Team members should have open access to leadership for guidance. It’s easier to approach CX like other initiatives–establish the strategies and goals and leave the implementation to your employees–however, this shortcut usually results in waning enthusiasm and the efforts eventually straying off course.
Key performance indicators aren’t aligned with actual customer needs. Executive leadership will gravitate to the familiar and they love tangible measurements. However, often most compelling customer motivations are intangible–how they feel about the experience, the treatment they received, lower frustration levels. So it’s a common shortcut to attempt to apply tangible measurements to CX. Or to ask closed-ended questions in satisfaction surveys like “Have we resolved your issue to your satisfaction today?” KPIs must link to customer needs, otherwise they will focus on internal processes and your customer focus can head down the wrong slope.
For example, at one time, one of our clients used two measures for their customer service team. Not surprisingly, the same two metrics most organizations have: First call resolution and call time. The only reason they had these measurements was because they were pre-ordained fields in their tracking software. We discovered the primary drivers for customers were more intangible. They didn’t want to be transferred around and they wanted to feel as if their issue was important. By aligning their measurements to harmonize with customer needs, they’re call center was soon receiving top marks in customer experience.
Like anything that is disruptive to the status quo, it becomes tempting to head down CX shortcuts, either by design or simply through oversight. On that mountain, the reward of a cold beer and warm conversation sent me down a shortcut resulting in frustration, dead-ends and, in the end, wasted time.
Hopefully my cautionary tale will provide you guidance for your own CX transformation. If not, we’ll keep our snowmobiles idling for you.
Helicx provides companies and organizations with a toolbox of processes (assessments, benchmarking and workshops) to enable them to create systems that attract and retain the best customers and the best employees. The Helicx process focuses on the business activities that most influence the customer experience such as marketing, sales, employee interactions and leadership. To see if these processes are right for your organization, take this survey.