Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Don't Underestimate the Power of a CX Vision

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Do you have a customer experience vision?

One of the 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience is "lack of CX vision and strategy." Have you created a customer experience vision for your organization? How will you know where you're going if you haven't?

A well-defined and clearly-communicated vision becomes the organization's north star and helps employees understand how they are consistently expected to deliver the experience for your customers. More specifically, as I've written before:
Your company vision is an inspirational and aspirational statement that outlines what the company is trying to achieve near-term and long-term; it also guides decision-making processes and subsequent, resultant courses of action. Your vision will (a) draw the line between what you're doing and for whom you're doing it and (b) create alignment within the organization. Your customer experience vision and company vision are always linked, and often one and the same. Without this north star, employees can easily go off track and focus on projects or ideas that aren't critical to what the business is trying to do.
Your CX vision is a tool to engage your employees in your CX strategy. To the latter point in the previous paragraph, your CX vision statement ought to allow your employees to say "no" if something isn't right or doesn't fit with the vision. It should allow them to evaluate what they are doing to ensure it aligns with the vision. If your statement doesn't guide employees in this way, then it's probably too mushy and not clear, specific, relevant, and meaningful.

Examples of CX vision statements
In case you're not sure what a CX vision looks like, here are a couple examples.
  • Warby Parker: We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.
  • State Farm: Remarkable. Every day. Every customer. Every interaction.
  • The Ritz-Carlton: The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  • IKEA: Create a better everyday life for the many people.
  • McDonald's: McDonald's vision is to be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile. 
  • Salt River Project: Rewarding, easy, and pleasant. 
  • Hagerty: Deliver exceptional experiences with every single interaction creating life long clients that not only stay with Hagerty but tell their friends about Hagerty
How to develop a vision
Developing your CX vision is a process. You don't just decide that this is the vision because you say so. A lot of research and customer understanding goes into it. You'll need to understand the current state of the experience, as well as customer needs and expectations, in order to define the future, intended state. Understand the key drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Map the journey and validate that with customers.

I've previously outlined three ways to understand your customers:
  1. Listen. Don't just ask customers about the experience, listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels and ways for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you are performing against their expectations. Understanding these expectations and identifying key drivers of a great customer experience are important outcomes of this exercise.
  2. Characterize. Research your customers. Identify the jobs they are trying to do. Compile key personas that represent the various types of prospects and customers that (might) buy from you or that use your products or services.
  3. Empathize. Walk in your customers' shoes to get a clear understanding of the steps they take to do whatever job it is they are trying to do with your organization.  Map their journeys to understand the current state of the experience.
You'll use both quantitative and qualitative methods to lead to greater customer understanding: surveys, interviews, personas, journey maps, and even empathy maps. Before you can develop your vision - and the subsequent strategy to ensure everyone can deliver on that vision - you must ensure that you've got a solid understanding of your customers, their needs, wants, expectations, jobs to be done, etc. You can't spell out your vision without doing your homework.

How to use the vision
Once the vision is in place - and hence all the customer understanding homework you've done to get to that vision - you will next move on to developing your CX strategy. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

Most importantly, your CX vision must be communicated, shared, and reinforced. Every employee must (a) know the vision so that they know the experience they are to deliver and (b) understand why it's important to the company, to the employee, and to the customer. And they must understand how they can use it as a guide in their day-to-day actions.

CX vision tips
Some tips to keep in mind about your customer experience vision:
  • It must be grounded in customer insights and understanding.
  • It must be specific to your business and, thus, becomes your differentiator.
  • It cannot be vague or ambiguous. The State Farm example above might be considered a bit vague. "Remarkable," while inspirational, is also ambiguous. Employees will likely ask: What does that mean? How do I deliver a remarkable experience? 
  • It should align with the company vision.
  • Even better, the corporate vision should be the customer experience vision, and vice versa.
  • It must be communicated to employees - across the entire organization, regardless of channel, business unit, etc. If it's not known and understood, it cannot be lived, breathed, and acted upon.
  • It should be simple, clear, compelling, and easy to understand. 
  • If needed, define or explain it to employees, just so there is no question.
  • It should apply to every channel or context in which you serve customers.
  • The vision will guide your strategy.
  • It is realistic and achievable.
  • The vision should motivate and inspire; if it's not realistic or achievable, it will do neither.
  • Business decisions and (employee) behaviors should be based on this vision.
  • It is for internal purposes only, not to be shared with customers, competitors, etc.
  • It must have commitment and buy-in from those who live it and execute on it (a shared vision).
  • All employees must know how they contribute to, and align with, the vision.
  • Revisit it at a regular interval to ensure that it still reflects the experience you want to deliver based on emerging trends, changing customer needs, etc.
What's the power of a CX vision? It gets everyone on the same page, marching to the same customer experience beat. It's your employees' north star, their guiding light, telling them exactly what experience they'll deliver to your customers.

Have you developed a CX vision for your company? If you have, I'd love to hear what it is and how the process of developing it went. Feel free to leave comments below!

Don't underestimate the power of a vision. McDonald's founder, Ray Kroc, pictured his empire long before it existed, and he saw how to get there. He invented the company motto, "Quality, service, cleanliness, and value," and kept repeating it to employees for the rest of his life. -Kenneth Labich

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