Customer Experience: New Thinking for An Old Problem

Customer Experience is all the rage, but is it really delivering results? We’re seeing new CX related efforts in companies big and small. They have been started in IT, Customer Service, marketing and many other silos within organizations. Case studies galore are celebrating these efforts. Internally there are celebrations for the latest implementations or process improvements that touted incredible success. Yet I talk to CEO’s who often wonder if all this money they are spending is helping the bottom line. Unfortunately, in many cases, the answer is a resounding no!

I am a big believer in Customer Experience, but I am often left frustrated by the work I have seen. Although I believe that everyone is well intended with their efforts and striving to do the best they can within the organization, there is friction at every corner. We tend not to address the friction, but instead find ways around it to avoid it as much as possible. The challenge is that good CX is centered on internal friction. This is one of the key reasons that CX related efforts will struggle when they are part of a silo. Do you want to create a world class Customer Experience Team? At Brain+Trust Partners, we can help you accomplish just that.

We have seen the challenges and mistakes at many best in class companies. Multiple teams building Customer Experience efforts within their own silos until eventually there is the internal fight for control over CX. Usually the person or team that speaks the best game wins, whether they are well suited for the task or not. This does not mean they achieve C-Suite buy-in, but instead they have the blessing to build their own fiefdom, at least until part of the organization begins to view this new team as a cost to their business, then it starts to implode. Does CX sit within marketing? IT? Customer Service? or some other team in your organization? The key for success is sitting in a place that can cross over each of these areas and many others.

Often CX teams are built around lots of cool new technologies, which add significant costs. The teams justify the expense because they have to effectively measure everything they do. They then focus tons of energy on striving to build the next coolest innovation or technology. This is because many have learned that a key to success is creating something new and different, whether it adds to the bottom line or not. The challenge to these new technologies is that they are built on top of bad systems and processes so in many ways these “cool” efforts really just highlight the existing failures within the organization.

The best CX efforts do not always start with the cool, new technology, but instead they take a step back to look at the existing experiences and tweak them. The key is looking through the eyes of the Customer. This is sometimes done best by outsiders who are not as connected to the internal reasons why. The beautiful part is we are all Customers of various companies, so we have points of reference. Think about all the legalese we throw at Customers to protect ourselves from everything under the sun. I know why this is important to the business, but what is the message to the Customer? Either the Customer ignores everything or they are forced to endlessly scroll through gobbledegook. Security is a huge concern by companies with many placing added focus on this. They want to show their Customer that they are concerned for their privacy. This is great, at least until it is not so great. The other day I had to change my password with a large telecommunications firm. I am still not sure why I had to change it, but their new requirements made every password combination I tried not acceptable to their system. It created a great deal of frustration for me. I also know that if I ever have to type it anywhere else I will never have a chance to get it right, and I will have to go through the nightmare again. This did not send a message that they were out to protect my privacy. It told me that there was someone who wanted to say internally how smart they were and created a system that is extremely user unfriendly. Although it will probably not get hacked, it probably won’t get used much either. CX runs throughout the business. It should be the conscience of the organization.

In many businesses the greatest impact to CX is measurement. Unfortunately, this is not always how we measure CX success. People within an organization will do whatever they are measured on. If raising Net Promotor Score is your goal, everyone who is measured on that will do everything they can to manipulate it. Think about the car dealer who says you will be getting a survey in the mail, if you do not give us a 9 or a 10 you are taking food off my family’s table. I have been told that more than once at multiple car dealers. If you measure a legal department on reducing risk of litigation. they will add many more pages to the terms and conditions sending an unintended message to your Customers or prospects.

CX starts with the mission of the organization, and a cross functional team that is highly empowered to drive the results intended by management. Their focus should start with the basics to realign the organization within the mission while working to reduce existing friction points for both employees and Customers. Key wins will not often be sexy, but they will have business impact. If you are frustrated by Customer experience, bring in the right team to ensure success of these efforts. CX is not about theory but rather real business results by people who have been through it time and time again. This is why we are building Brain+Trust Partners and we’re @YourService.

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