Tuesday, April 1, 2014

CEM Toolbox: Taking Action

Clapboard image courtesy of richepstein
What's the next step? How do we put everything we've heard and learned to good use?

This is the last post for my CEM Toolbox series about tools for the CX Framework. In this post, I write about some of the tools you'll need in order to execute. It's time to put it all to work and to determine your relative level of progress and success over time. In this series, I've discussed a lot of the tools that you'll need to use to execute, but in this final post, I'll summarize a few things I may have already called out plus add a few other things. And by the way, just because I'm mentioning these last doesn't mean that they shouldn't already be in place or shouldn't have already been considered. This post is more about the wrappers on the whole package.

Vision: What's the vision for the effort and, ultimately, for the organization. How do you want your customer-centric focus to transform the organization and to shift the way employees think?

Goals: What  outcomes are you aiming for? Thinking about historical trends/data, other benchmarks, and reasonable improvement rates, what do you hope to achieve? It's all meaningless unless you can translate your efforts not only into improved customer experience but also to achieving your business goals and outcomes.

Governance Structure:  Outlines the roles and responsibilities of the people who not only are overseeing this entire effort but are also making decisions about how it will be defined and executed. The Structure should also outline processes that the team will follow, how they will communicate with the organization, and more. Without people - the right people, committed to making a difference - this is all not possible.

Actionable and Trustworthy Data: Without this, you've got nothing. You can make decisions by sticking your finger in the wind, but that's not really the point of all of this, is it? Understanding your customers, who they are, what they are trying to achieve - that's what your data needs to tell you.

Root Cause Analysis: To get to the bottom of things, you must have a sound way to identify why things are going well or not so well. Using a method like Five Whys is one approach. Once you uncover the root cause, you must address it and figure out how to keep it from happening again in the future. You must communicate with employees (and customers) to make sure they understand what's been done and why.

Closed-Loop Process: I’ve said before that data are just data until you act on it. Defining the  closed-loop process is an important tool to help you turn data into action. The tool outlines the workflow and the responsible party as it pertains to customer feedback. The process should outline who will own the issue and respond to the customer, how quickly the person must respond, what action they will take, and who will oversee the process in the event of negligence by said owner. This process includes frontline (tactical), middle management (operational), and executive (strategic) responses to the feedback.

Action Planning: Through this process, improvement items that have been identified through various analyses will be detailed and assigned owners. The owners will need to gain a deeper understanding of what needs to be improved by reviewing processes, policies, people, operations, etc. that impact the required improvement area and will then need to outline and execute on the plan for improvement.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): How will you measure your performance and progress? You'll need to identify the models and metrics that best suit your organization's needs and desired outcomes. Just remember: don't make it about the metrics, though; it's about improving the customer experience.

ROI Calculator: This will help you measure the Return on Investment for this undertaking. Use this tool to really help you understand how investing in customer listening and all the resultant improvements saved the company time, money, and, most importantly, customers.

Program Review: Conduct an annual review of your efforts, revisit program and business goals and outcomes, identify emerging trends (products, customer segments/personas, acquisitions, etc.) to adjust for your "Year 2" plan, and remember that it's a continuous improvement process.

Innovation: Based on customer needs and enabled by technology, innovation will be an important tool to help redesign your customer experience into something no one has ever seen before. (A girl can dream, right?)

Lean Six Sigma: Consider using Lean Six Sigma to improve business performance by eliminating waste and inefficiencies and then improving processes.

Linkage Analysis: Again, what's it all for if you can't make sense of it and understand how it matters. You can link customer and employee feedback, customer feedback to financial performance data, customer feedback to operational metrics, and more. Now you just need to get your hands on all those data sources...

Training: In order to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect, ongoing training will help to ensure success. This is probably one of your most important tools. If employees don't understand the data, if employees don't know what's expected of them, if employees don't know what it means to deliver a great experience... then it's all for naught.

We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us. -Marshall McLuhan


  1. As you know Annette I write a lot about process improvement.

    Most people confuse process improvement with cost cutting, your post highlights (I think) that process improvement is simply about giving customers what they want.

    Anything else is just selfish management


    1. Agreed. Cost cutting might happen as a result of process improvements, but they are not one and the same. As always, thank you for your insights!