Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Getting Employee Buy-In for Your #CX Transformation

Image courtesy of Todd Quakenbush/Unsplash
What tools can you use to facilitate employee buy-in for your customer experience improvement efforts?

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a webinar with ZenDesk on the seven steps to customer experience heaven. A question posed by one of the audience members was about what tools are available to facilitate employee buy-in for your customer experience initiative.

I think this is a great question because, as you know by now, the employee experience drives the customer experience. Employees who are happy in their roles with the company will translate that happiness into delivering a great experience for customers. How do they get to that point? There are several factors/tools, no doubt, not the least of which is hiring the right people. Once you've got the right people on staff, what tools can you use to ensure they are on board with delivering a great customer experience?

I knew I had written several blog posts that could easily answer the question. Here are my recommendations for tools to gain employee buy-in.

1. Provide a clear line of sight for employees to the target: customers. When employees know how their contributions matter, when they know how what they do impacts the customer experience, that makes all the difference in the world. In this post, I provide 6 Tools to Create a Clear Line of Sight for Employees. If you don't read another post I recommend here, this one will provide you with the tools you need to get employee buy-in.

2. Use one of the most powerful customer experience training tools at your disposal: the customer journey map. It provides clarity in a lot of ways, including those mentioned in #1. Journey maps help the organization be more customer-focused and customer-centric, understand the customer and his interactions with your organization, align around a common cause, speak a universal language (customer), break down silos, achieve a single view of the customer, and improve the customer experience. In this post, I share details about Your Most Important #CX Training Tool.

3. Involve employees in customer experience design and improvement rather than imposing or forcing it on them. Here’s a post I wrote about Kotter’s change management model that might give you some additional ideas: 8 Steps for Customer Experience Change Management.

4. Empower employees to deliver the experience you expect them to deliver. In this post, I share 11 ideas on how Employee Empowerment involves employees rather than alienates them. When we unleash employee empowerment, we set employees on the path to deliver the experience you expect them to deliver.

5. And finally, as I already alluded to, the employee experience itself is important. Putting employees first and ensuring they have a great experience will translate to a great customer and pay returns in spades. In my post Does "Employees More First" Disparage Customers?, I share the results of putting employees more first and prescribe some ways to ensure they have a great experience.

If you've got other tips or suggestions, please share them in the comments. You probably uncovered the most important tool of all in #1: communication.

Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company. -Zig Ziglar

Friday, October 17, 2014

Are You Beating a Dead Snake?

Image courtesy of Bright Vibes
I originally wrote today's post for EQ List on August 10, 2014.

I recently wrote a post called Time to Kill a Customer Experience Snake, in which I outlined Jim Barksdale's Three Rules of Business and how they relate to improving the customer experience. His rules tell us how to kill a snake, metaphorically.

What Are Snakes?

Jim referred to problems start-ups or small businesses may encounter as they grow the business or strive for success as snakes. In your organization, those problems might be things like an idea, a project, a person, your org structure, operational inefficiencies, rules and policies that are outdated, technology that no longer meets employee or customer needs, and more.

One of his rules is: Don’t go back and play with dead snakes. This is an important one to follow, as oftentimes people waste too much time dwelling on decisions that have already been made. Why is this happening? Let’s take a look at some questions you might want to ask yourself.

Are You Beating a Dead Snake?
There’s no time to constantly go back and revisit the decision or to insist that the problem isn’t resolved; are you doing that? If you don’t agree with the decision – and you won’t always agree – let it go and move on. Choose your battles; this wasn’t the one to fight.

But How Do We Know We Killed the Right Snake?
How do I get over it? How can I move on, knowing that we did the right thing, even if I don’t think we did? Unfortunately, we don’t always do the right thing or kill the right snake, but sometimes we just have to keep moving forward. To ensure the right snake is killed, always do your homework. Conduct a root cause analysis; this will guarantee the problem, not just a symptom, was eradicated.

Was It a Pet Snake or a Venomous One?
This might be a reason some people can’t move on. Is the snake that’s been killed something that you glommed onto, a process you designed, a policy you felt was necessary or stood behind? Or was it something more than that? Something that just really made the workplace toxic and made everyone unproductive? Look at the big picture. Even if it was a pet snake to begin with, maybe you found out later it was actually venomous.

Why Can’t I Beat a Dead Snake?
Once it’s dead, you just can’t bring a snake back to life. So why waste your time? You may want to revive interest in the topic, issue, process, etc. But then what happens? We lose focus and/or focus on the wrong thing. It’s unproductive, and we waste too much time and energy on that misplaced focus. Don’t make getting rid of the snake – or continuously beating the dead snake – a bigger issue than the snake itself.

Don’t lose focus by constantly going back to it or trying to resuscitate it – stay focused on what matters most. Jim Barksdale also said: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Placing our focus on things that no longer matter keeps us away from the main thing.

What are your company's snakes? And what rules does your company have in place to kill them? Or do you just step around them to avoid their bite?

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. -Peter Drucker

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Metrics to Map Your Customer Experience Success

Image courtesy of Marianna Gomes
What are your customer experience success metrics? And how do they differ from your VoC metrics?

Last Tuesday, we celebrated the second annual CX Day, a day to celebrate both customers and the professionals who work tirelessly to improve the customer experience.

I hosted two Google Hangouts for CX Day, the first of which I blogged about last week. In today's post, I share the second Hangout, with content equally as insightful as the first.

Panelists for this Hangout included Erich Dietz (VP of Business Development, InMoment), Tabitha Dunn (Group Director, Customer Insights, Citrix), and Lynn Hunsaker (Head of Customer Experience Optimization, ClearAction). Unfortunately, we lost Lynn early on due to technical issues, but Erich and Tabitha did a great job of discussing the topic at hand: Metrics to Map Your Customer Experience Success. A little background on the topic, from the CX Day site:

Ability to drive executive support and engagement in customer experience metrics and results can be challenging. It requires thoughtful selection and testing of leading and lagging indicators, and translation of data into clear communication of results, progress, and actions. In this Hangout we'll discuss how to approach customer experience metrics in a manner similar to other business problems: find root causes, create full solutions, test, and learn.

The format of the discussion was again to cover some "starter" topics for those who are early in the stages of their customer experience journey and needed some basic "how-tos" to get started,  followed by some more advanced questions for those who are well underway and might want to energize their current efforts. The questions I posed were:

Starting Out in CX Progress Metrics
What's the difference between voice-of-the-customer metrics and measuring your organization's impact on VoC?
What kinds of metrics are typical for each?
How can a manager get started in identifying meaningful metrics to manage CX progress?
How can you test different metrics and survey questions to find the right ones for your industry and customers?

Energizing Your CX Progress Metrics
How can it make a difference to have a plan-to-act before asking customers a question?
How can you get your stakeholders involved in identifying and acting on the root cause of CX issues?
What are some ways to pull together other metrics besides customer effort, VoC, and retention to build the full picture of CX progress?
What are some ways to tie financial results to CX metrics and CX management metrics?

While the Hangout lasted 30 minutes, we probably could've talked for at least another 30 minutes. Erich and Tabitha were able to answer most of the questions before we ran out of time.

I think this is an important discussion, i.e., understanding the difference between VoC metrics and success metrics - and identifying those that are right for your business. The importance of tying VoC metrics to business outcomes cannot be expressed strongly enough, which likely means your success metrics will be a result of that linkage.

Measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so. -Galileo

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Linking CX Strategy to Corporate Strategy & Brand Values

Image courtesy of joey.ganoza
How do you link your customer experience strategy with your corporate strategy?

As many of you know, earlier this week we celebrated the second annual CX Day, a day to celebrate both customers and the professionals who work tirelessly to improve the customer experience.

I helped kick off the celebrations by hosting a panel of customer experience experts in the first Google Hangout of the day for Australia. Panelists included Cyrus Allen (Partner, Strativity Group), Brian Andrews (consultant and formerly with Intuit), and Karyn Furstmann (VP of Customer Experience, Safeco Insurance).

The discussion was focused on linking customer experience strategy to corporate strategy and brand values, and there are some great nuggets in this Hangout that I thought would be valuable to share here, in case you missed it.

First, a little background on the topic, CX Strategy, which is one of the six pillars of customer experience, as defined by CXPA. From the CXDay site:

A critical component of business success is the development of a customer experience strategy that articulates a clear vision of the experience that a company seeks to create in support of the company's brand values, including its direct linkage to CX activities, resources, and investments.

With that, the format of the discussion was to cover some "starter" topics for those who are early in the stages of their customer experience journey and needed some basic "how-tos" to get started,  followed by some more advanced questions for those who are well underway and might want to energize their current efforts. The questions I posed were:

Starting Out with Your CX Strategy
How do you develop a customer experience strategy?
What are the components of a solid strategy?
Who defines the intended customer experience?
How do we ensure that it supports and aligns with the brand values?

Energizing Your CX Strategy
How do we get the organization to support the strategy?
What does success look like? How do we measure it?
What does that direct linkage entail? To which activities, resources, and investments?

 I hope you enjoyed the discussion. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. -Winston Churchill

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Listen to Learn, Listen to Earn

Image courtesy of Unsplash
Designing a VoC program can be daunting. Where do you begin?

If you're new to designing and implementing a VoC program, you're probably scratching your head and wondering where to begin. There are a lot of components to consider as you dive in, from executive buy-in to organizational alignment to governance and more.

However, I'm going to focus on some very important basics in today's post; this is certainly an ongoing conversation that covers so much more than what I'll address today. This post is about three key exercises to lay the foundation for beginning any customer listening efforts. If you are still struggling with getting executive buy-in, which is critical to VoC success, check out one of these posts:

Help! My Execs Don't Get It!
Kicking the #CX Can Down the Road

But in a nutshell, why is it important to listen to customers? Well, as Harvey Mackay says: You learn when you listen. You earn when you listen - not just money, but respect. Can't argue with that. If we don't understand who our customers are, what jobs they are trying to do/achieve, and how well that's going, then we reap none of the benefits of having raving fans - probably because we won't have (m)any. So, what do you think? Does it pay to listen?

Let's get started. Clearly, you cannot begin a voice of the customer initiative without first understanding who your customers are.

Understand the Customer 
Who are your customers? They might be partners and/or end customers/users, so keep that in mind. Why do they buy products and services from you? What are their needs? What problems are they trying to solve? What are they trying to achieve?

Have you defined your customer personas? This is an important place to start. Personas are fictional characters created to describe your ideal prospect or actual customer. They are derived through primary research - research that can then also be used for your customer journey maps. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself. They are specific to your business, not to the industry. The descriptions include vivid narratives, images, and other items that help companies understand the needs of the customer (contextual insights) and outline feelings, motivations, goals, behaviors, challenges, likes, dislikes, objections, and interests that drive buying (or other) decisions. And let's not forget that each persona includes a human face and name. Used properly, personas keep the customer alive and front and center by the entire organization. They tie in nicely to your journey maps and are necessary to begin that exercise.

Outline the Customer Lifecycle
What are the stages of the customer's relationship with your brand, from Need to Awareness through Departure? The lifecycle map shows the phases of the customer's relationship with your company. It's high level and is good for understanding the overall relationship the customer has with the organization, from before he's even considered a customer through when he is no longer a customer. It typically includes these stages: Need, Awareness, Consideration, Selection/Purchase, Experience, Loyalty, Advocacy, Engagement, Raving Fans. And, unfortunately, Exit. It's not necessarily linear and often circles back on itself.

It's great to understand this high level before moving on to the next step. Lifecycle maps, while important to nurturing the overall customer relationship, are a natural first step to identifying listening needs along the lifecycle; however, to get to the heart of the matter, to really understand when and where to listen and to really design a better customer experience, you must dive deeper into the lifecycle stages, inventory the touchpoints, and map the customer journey.

Map the Customer Journey
I've written a lot about journey mapping. It's important to understand that journey maps are not the same thing as lifecycle maps. A lot of people make that mistake. In simplest terms, journey mapping is a way to walk in your customer's shoes and chart his course as he interacts with your organization (channels, departments, touchpoints, products, etc.) while trying to fulfill some need or do some job within each stage of the lifecycle. It allows you to identify key moments of truth and to ensure that those moments are executed delightfully. The map is created from the customer's viewpoint, not yours. It's not linear either, nor is it static. But it is the backbone of your customer experience management efforts.

This is where the details come into play, though. The journey map looks at each and every step a customer takes in order to achieve some task, i.e., calling support, ordering a product, etc., with the company. It describes what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling at each step in the journey.

Why do you need a customer journey map? Journey maps provide clarity for the entire organization. There are a ton of benefits, but they are integral to customer listening efforts in that they help to identify those key moments of truth at which we need to listen in order to better understand gaps, highlights, breakdowns, and more. They'll be the catalyst for prioritizing when and where to listen.

Start with these three exercises to get your VoC program off to a solid start. And one last thought: it's important to remember that your surveys and listening posts are touchpoints in the customer experience. Take the time to do this right. Make sure you execute well.

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. -Ralph Nichols

Happy CX Day!

This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association's Blog Carnival "Celebrating Customer Experience." It is part of a broader celebration of CX Day. Check out posts from other bloggers here.