The good news is that customer experience transformations need not fail. Sadly, most will. Despite good intentions, reassuring words to shareholders, corporate commitment, steering committees, tiger teams, etc. most efforts are doomed because of ignorance. They fail because people don’t realize that to address the customer experience companies must address corporate alignment.
Companies that deliver world-class customer experience do so deliberately across the entire company. These companies do not jump-start a customer experience initiative and then focus solely on front-line service reps. Nor do they treat customers as king (or queen). Instead these companies develop a synchronized cross-organizational strategy and execute relentlessly.
First, some declarations… if you don’t agree, the remainder of this post will do little to convince readers.
- Companies benefit financially when they deliver superior customer experiences
- Superior customer experiences are difficult for competitors to match and thus offer sustainable competitive advantages
So, to succeed where others fail answer these questions and gain organizational alignment:
- To whom is your product valuable? Companies must know why and how products provide value to their target customers. Is the market big enough to support growth aspirations?
- Are your sales and marketing efforts aligned to that specific market? If they aren’t, you may be “winning” customers outside your core market that don’t need your services. Just because a company has money, does not make them an ideal customer. Under pressure to hit numbers, Sales teams will sometimes take money from “bad” customers. What the company must understand is that when the product doesn’t meet the needs, one of two poor outcomes is likely. (1) Your company will be disparaged in the market place. (2) Your company, desiring to avoid bad reputation, will invest resources to meet the “bad” customer’s needs – which pulls your company further from the “good” customers.
- Do product development efforts support the target market? Not what do customers want, but what are they trying to achieve? What problem(s) can you help your customers solve?
- Are your employees in the right roles? Not can they do the job, but does the job they are doing ignite a spark in their soul?
- Are you selling a high-quality product? Execution failures here ripple throughout the company. It becomes difficult to demonstrate product value and on the off chance a sale is made, product deficiencies make it impossible to support.
- Is your product priced correctly? When priced above the perceived value no one will buy. But the other problem is equally serious to company health because low prices encourage growth with which customer-facing teams can’t keep pace.
These are, arguably, basic business questions and goals. The fact that so many companies are held in low regard provides evidence that the basics aren’t being answered (or perhaps, asked).
The pivot point is that customer experience must be part of a cross-organizational effort. Making these changes is hard. If they were easy, every company would conduct them and any company could duplicate them. But once you achieve such a lofty goal, you will set yourself apart from the competition and they will struggle to catch up, let alone beat you.