First published in SmarterCX, December 17, 2019
In 2020, customer experience leaders find themselves at a performance crossroad. While endeavouring to deliver the promise of enhanced value, differentiation, and CX as a driver of sustainable growth they are besieged by CX management challenges that continue to stifle excellence. There are, however, five little things that will make a big difference in CX performance.
For organisations around the world, the returns from investing in customer experience excellence are not being fully realised. Forrester’s Customer Experience Index showed again this year, that CX excellence remains elusive, “According to the survey, 81% of brand scores stagnated; most industry front-runners were repeats; many gains too minor to render them statistically significant.”
CX leaders are still plagued by the challenges of transitioning to a customer-centric culture; unable to solve the common customer experience management problems of low organisational commitment, poor alignment of cross-functional teams and competing agendas and priorities.
Organisational structure continues to present a CX management challenge. Designed to deliver greater productivity and efficiency, functional silos increase internal competition and decrease collaboration and communication—often at the expense of customer experience.
A contributing problem is diminishing first-hand connection with customers. Increasingly, executives and employees alike, are bound to their day-to-day work through technology, data, scores, and business outcomes. How organisations see, hear, and feel their customers’ experiences is creating an empathy gap—a customer empathy deficit.
Problematic, too, is the shift over the past decade from small data, (relating to customers and causation), to big data. A recent study commissioned by FocusVision and Harvard Business Review Analytics Services argues that, “only 23% of respondents say they understand very well why their customers act the way they do.”
Fundamental to CX success is customer centricity, putting customers’ needs at the centre of your business’s thinking, problem solving, and decision making. Often overlooked and undervalued are the little things in customer experience management practice that deliver deep customer understanding, more meaningful connection and align and unite teams. Here’s five little things that will make a big difference in CX performance.
CX Leadership Trends 2020: 5 Little Things That Will Make a Big Difference
Tip #1: Define organisational purpose
Customers’ expectations are continually evolving. Increasingly, customers want to purchase brands that not only provide rewarding experiences, but also reflect the type of world they want to live in. Companies that are recognised for CX excellence are examples of businesses that live their customer cause.
In 2020, make a big difference through focusing energies on standing for something bigger than the business or brand; utilising the organisation’s resources for good, as well as for making profits, and leading with purpose; energising employees and engaging customers differently—in ways that pursuing profits alone never will.
Tip #2: Show customer empathy in decision making
If you want to humanise organisational decision making to provide experiences that solve customers’ problems, meet their expectations and make them feel good, then customer empathy—customer perspective-taking—needs to be embedded into the everyday decision-making process.
In 2020, make a big difference through utilising customer experience frameworks and tools that switch on and scale customer empathy ability. Assist decision makers around the table to draw on the customer’s perspective—making it possible to put themselves in the shoes of the people who will be affected by the outcomes of their decisions.
Tip #3: Storytelling develops meaningful connection
The most effective way to understand the customer’s experience; to feel what it’s like to be a customer, is to augment satisfaction scores with customer stories; “walking in the customer’s shoes” to experience their world from their perspective. The challenge for large organisations is scaling this across hundreds or thousands of employees.
In 2020, CX leaders can make a big difference using customer storytelling to develop deep understanding and meaningful connection. CX storytelling frameworks and tools can include: customer empathy nudges, customer journey maps, service safaris and practices that humanise score data through the attribution of human qualities. For example, incorporating satisfaction scores within the customer emotion graph on a journey map.
Tip #4: Double down on collaboration
Being customer-centric is the practice of putting customer needs at the centre of the business’s thinking, problem solving, and decision making. The foundation of customer centricity is customer empathy, and it is teams working together and collaborating cross-functionally that deliver on the business’s CX aspirations.
In 2020, make a big difference by doubling down on good CX management practice for organisation-wide participation. Best practice customer experience governance utilises a cross-functional steering group with an executive sponsor. This ensures your CX program remains highly visible to the business and a customer-centric approach is applied to the business’s strategy, problem solving, and decision making.
Tip #5: Humanise customer solutions
When we look at the customer’s experience from a different perspective, we can learn something new that we did not, or could not, otherwise have known. Customer context and perspective helps organisations break free of the counterproductive mindset of delivering more conventional and often minor improvements in product and service aesthetics or features.
In 2020, CX leaders that shift their organisation’s thinking to reframe customer needs as part of the solution will make a big difference in creating value for customers and the business alike. Customer empathy delivers this possibility, through perspective-taking, of discovering a new way of looking at the customer’s world.
For organisations around the world, the returns from investing in customer experience excellence are not being fully realised. In 2020, CX leaders wanting to make a big difference need look no further than the little things—understanding customers and scaling customer empathy, being purpose-led, uniting and aligning with a customer cause, and enhancing value through customer perspective-taking.