Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Did Your Company Make the #CX Naughty List This Year?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for Intradiem; it appeared on their blog on December 16, 2014. Two years later, it's still relevant!

'Tis the season... Santa's making his lists and checking them twice.

Oh no! Your company shows up on his CX Naughty List! What did you do wrong this year? In short, a lot.

There are (at least) five categories in which companies continue to fall down when it comes to the customer experience. For each category, I'll call out some of the most egregious reasons for being on Santa's CX Naughty List. Trust me, there are a lot more reasons; I could write a book about all of them.

1. Customer Culture
Customer Culture is all about setting the stage for successfully designing and delivering a great customer experience. If you don't have a leadership team who supports and drives a customer-centric culture, forget it; it won't happen. Here are a few things your company did or didn't do around developing a customer culture this year that caused you to land on the Naughty List.
  • You still don't understand the importance of focusing on the customer experience: your executives don't get it, but there are plenty of examples and statistics as to why focusing on the customer experience pays in spades.
  • You think and operate inside-out rather than outside-in: your focus is on processes that are designed and implemented based on internal thinking and intuition. The customer's needs and perspectives do not play a part in this type of thinking. You make decisions because you think it's what's best for the business.
  • You don't make the employee experience a priority: employee engagement is down, turnover is up, and you still question why you should focus on delivering a great employee experience.
  • You still think the purpose of a business is to maximize shareholder value: so that's how you prioritize your decisions and investments in the business, based on delivering a great rate of return for your shareholders. The real purpose of a business is to create (and nurture) a customer.
2. CX Strategy
CX Strategy refers to your approach to delivering a great customer experience. Some of the reasons you may have landed on Santa's Naughty List this year include:
  • You listen to customers but only focus on the metrics: instead of taking what you heard from customers and improving the experience, you decided to focus on the numbers and what moves the numbers. You promised your customers free oil changes if they rated you all 10s!
  • You don't have a customer experience vision: without a vision, you're left short-sighted when it comes to the customer experience.
  • You believe you already deliver a great customer experience: honestly, this is about short-sighted and egregious as it gets. Why? Because you don't.
3. Constituent Understanding
Do you know who your customers are? They might be partners and/or end customers/users. 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? You made the Naughty List because of the following.
  • You don't listen to your customers (or other constituents): you either don't understand why you should listen, or you don't care.
  • You don't know who your customers are: you've decided to focus on target segments instead of personas, when personas will get you closer to the customer and to a better customer experience design.
  • You don't map the customer journey: without mapping the journey, you truly don't understand what your customers are experiencing, which means "empathy" also isn't part of your vocabulary.
4. Analyze
Analyze is all about how you tease out meaning from your customer data. The following behaviors got you on the Naughty List this year.
  • You don't analyze unstructured data for insights and sentiment: there's so much richness in that unstructured feedback, but you've chosen to ignore it because it seems like too much work.
  • You focus on the wrong outcomes: there are a few different ways to look at this one, but in your case, you decided to focus on growing referrals, when it's not all that relevant to your business.
  • You don't tell a story with your data: you deliver dreadful charts and statistics to your employees, hoping they'll know what it means and how to apply it to delivering a great experience.
5. Operationalize
This is where the rubber meets the road. It's time to execute. It's time to improve and to deliver a great customer experience. You made the Naughty List based on this category due to a few shortcomings
  • You don't train employees on what it means to deliver a great experience: if they don't know what it means or what it looks like, how can they deliver it.
  • You develop products without understanding customer needs or what they are trying to achieve: you haven't listened to customers or tried to learn more about them; as a result, your products don't meet needs and frustrate customers.
  • You spend a lot of money on marketing to acquire new customers but can't keep the customers you currently have: it's a lot cheaper and easier to focus on the customers that you have than it is to acquire new ones; if you focus on delivering a great experience for the customers you have, they will help you acquire new ones.
  • You do nothing with the valuable feedback that your customers provide. Enough said.
Santa's hoping you'll do better next year! Focus on the things that matter to your customers and to your employees. Address the issues outlined above. And let's see if you make it to the Nice List in 2017.

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. –Oprah Winfrey

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Value of Connecting with Other #CX Professionals

Image courtesy of Noel Dela Cena
I originally wrote today's post for the CXPA blog and have modified it slightly since then.

Simon Sinek said: A community is a group of people who agree to grow together. I think that describes the customer experience profession, and especially the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), quite well.

There’s a lot of value in connecting with other customer experience professionals, whether those connections are made through the CXPA or not. As you know, this customer experience profession is relatively new, having been formalized and validated five years ago by the formation of the CXPA. (Yes, I know, you may have been a customer experience professional longer than that.) Given that, plus the challenges newbies to this field experience (were you plucked from another role or department to tackle CX?), connecting with other customer experience professionals who have faced the same opportunities, challenges, and victories as you have is actually quite rewarding, for a variety of reasons… not the least of which is, as Simon states, growing together.

I can sum up the benefits of connecting with other CX professionals in two words: (1) education and (2) support; in some ways, they can both be lumped together and defined as:
  • learning from each other, 
  • having someone who understands what you’re talking about
  • having someone who can answer questions about the same challenges or experiences you’re having, 
  • bouncing ideas off each other, 
  • sharing failures and best practices, 
  • mentoring someone with less experience or knowledge, 
  • having a shoulder to cry on and also one to pick you up and help you along,
  • and more.
We are all still learning! Even after almost 25 years in this space, I learn new things from other CX professionals every week. As this field and this profession evolve and as we continue to define what it means to be in this CX profession, know that your professional connections become even more important.

Take the time to reach out to other CXPA members, join the discussions on the Discussion Forum, share your experiences and best practices or offer up resources that have worked well for you, and ask questions of the CX Experts. And if you're not already a member, join this growing community!

Get involved and connect with other CX professionals. Grow with other CX professionals. You will not regret it!

The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. -Keith Ferrazzi

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Why Your Company Needs a Journey Room

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by John Zilch with Dun & Bradstreet.

A few years back, I was working at a mid-sized software company and was part of a project team looking to overhaul our pricing and packaging. The initial stages of the project involved speaking with customers, researching the competition, and performing the math necessary to hone in on the correct pricing. Then we built packages around the pricing, which was a way of bundling features and products together at an aggregated price to meet customer needs. (Note: The most difficult part of this exercise were the names themselves. Like most companies, we were boring, using the periodic table to find the right precious metals to name our packages.)

With these hurdles leaped, we believed we’d hit the homestretch. However, when we began buttoning up the customer experience around the forthcoming changes, we realized we’d only hit the tip of the iceberg.

No one across the organization seemed to be thrilled about the execution of the pricing roll out. Sales wasn’t keen on our communication strategy. Marketing needed to make website changes. Product didn’t trust the current upsell/cross-sell machinations for the new stuff. Support freaked out over the whole darned thing. The pricing/packaging looked great. And the customer experience was going to be a disaster if we didn’t get our act together.

So, we mapped out the customer journey… on paper. We jotted down every known detail on a whiteboard, and then invited folks to review and provide feedback and questions. We did many rounds of this, often with the same people. The more we met with different teams in our little huddle room, the more we added to the customer experience mapping up on the wall. Before long, we needed a bigger wall.  Hey, would the Red Sox mind if we hung a few items from the Green Monster during the All-Star break?

Ultimately, we created what we called a “fishbowl” (which I’ll refer to as a “journey room” for the sake of this article) in the middle of our office. The journey room was a common area with a series of white boards where we published the entire customer experience as a series of workflows and diagrams. (This was somewhat intimidating and looked a little like a circuit board upon first glance.) We provided Post-its to encourage our coworkers to leave suggestions, questions, ideas, and corrections. Our UX design team assumed the role of journey room owners. They’d answer any questions and take action on feedback. 

It didn’t take long for various folks from various teams to congregate and contribute. Having the customer journey posted in a physical, central location meant folks saw it every day. They saw their friends hanging out. They debated and worked together to tackle problems. Most of the office contributed. For all we knew, Matt Damon came by after hours to mop and figured some stuff out.

As changes were made to the board, pieces were finalized and individual teams took away action items to implement in advance of the changes.

Before long, we’d optimized the customer experience and successfully completed our pricing roll out. Then something interesting happened: the journey room stayed open. As new insights were made or projects were started, folks used the room to further improve the lives of our customers. Then we started charging money and people came from far away to see it! Okay, I made the last part up.  However, the journey room did serve as the record of truth and a living document of our customer’s experience from their first website visit to product adoption.

We are in the midst of a digital revolution, and it's remarkable how we can get closer to - and further from - the customer at the same time. How many websites do you visit today where online assistance is provided through a chat window? How confident are we that “Susan” is a real person and not an algorithm guided by artificial intelligence? Personally, I’m less confident, but only because “Susan” recently mentioned lunch with her friend “Siri.”

Customer-centricity is strangely both “top of mind” and “under attack” in the digital world.  Documenting, publishing, and maintaining a consistent, effective customer journey reinforces the importance of customer empathy.  So, find a room, map the customer experience, and see what happens. You’ll be surprised who shows up.

John Zilch is Director of Product at Dun & Bradstreet, helping marketing and sales drive revenue through effective data management and analysis. John is also the creator of the growthandgrit blog where he shares his experiences building products and growing businesses.