In my experience, most CX professionals are thrust into dysfunctional environments and asked to perform miracles. In the spirit of “back to school” here is the “course content” to achieve the impossible.
Course Description: A comprehensive overview of the steps required to create, manage, and improve customer experience in a way that creates a positive flywheel for sustained growth. Enrolled students should expect late hours, high customer impact leading to immense personal satisfaction. For extra credit, read the helpful links placed within.
Prerequisites: Executive support and sponsorship. Without support from the top, CX teams will confront organizational alignment issues and competing priorities. Strong CEO support is the only way to ensure the “corporate priority” gets treated like one.
- Understand the environment – companies must understand how they fit into the market ecosystem. That environment will determine what is (a) necessary and (b) sufficient. In the airlines, for example, Southwest, JetBlue, and Frontier compete in different ways than American, United, and Delta. Understanding who you are trying to serve will shape how you craft the remainder of your strategy.
- Understand customer objectives – asking customers what they want may lead you down a path that encourages iteration only at the expense of innovation. Instead understand how they want to interact with you and what they are trying to achieve. Their objectives may span a wide range of “needs” which include a variety of topics such as how they want to be introduced to the product, how they want to buy, what contract complexities are appropriate, how and when they want to receive support, etc.
- Develop an intentional experience (often called journey mapping) – intentional, not accidental, experiences start by viewing the journey through the customer’s point of view. As your company keeps customer objectives (above) front of mind you will begin to see that how you market and sell to your customers is part of the experience. How you price and negotiate is part of the experience. How you support is also part of the experience. I also recommend developing how your company will deliver an intentional experience when things go wrong. Nordstrom’s is the textbook example.
- Hire, equip and train the team – I fear that an automated world is causing us to forget that people buy from people. While automated marketing and touchpoints can assist in scaling a customer team, we can’t neglect that people support people. If you choose the wrong people, or if you choose the right people and expect them to carry out a superb experience without training or tools, your performance expectations are misplaced (and too high). (If you’ve already chosen the wrong people, fix it. Some thoughts here.)
- Track performance – it sounds ancient, but you can’t manage what you don’t measure. As soon as you realize you are off course, take corrective actions.
- Reward positive actions – no doubt you will have negative behavior to manage. My experience has taught me to find the positives and reward them in a very specific and public way. A single heartfelt “good job on… ” overheard by other teammates ripples positively through team performance.
Good luck on the final exam! Done well, the pivot point is that your customer experience will provide a competitive differentiator in the market and propel you to higher and faster growth.