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  • Stephanie Thum, CCXP

3 Conversations Customer Experience Pros Aren't Having But Should Be



CX is a mindset. Don't just bolt it on to your business. Bake it in.


Most credentialed customer experience (CX) professionals know the foundational competencies that guide the work every day: customer strategy, experience design, governance, metrics, and voice of the customer practices, for example.


When you think about it, those practices are like tools in a toolbox. Used properly, they can lead to the creation of welcoming retail stores, make websites and contact centers easier to navigate, clear away transaction bottlenecks, and simplify customer shopping.


But given today’s pace of business transformation, that’s not where CX practices can or should stop for businesses. Here are three CX conversations that are ripe for exploration. 


1. CX in the procurement ecosystem.


Most companies need great vendors and suppliers to effectively respond to customers. However, let's face it. The buyer-seller ecosystem in the corporate and government world is downright nasty terrain for everyone involved.


Complicated procurement rules and confusing systems can send great suppliers running in another direction and create employee headaches. Journey mapping, surveying suppliers, and looking at good metrics can help you figure out where you can clear away some roadblocks.


The U.S. General Services Administration, a government agency, is working in this newer territory of CX. Moreover, the entire U.S. government is now working on a goal to reduce friction in the buyer-seller ecosystem.


If government agencies can push CX concepts and principles into the purchasing ecosystem, then why not regular companies?


2. CX in policy and rule creation.


Face mask policies aside, think about the way companies oftentimes come up with their customer policies for things like refunds and returns: at the senior-most levels, sometimes in smaller groups, with lawyers in the room, or during governance proceedings. Politics, self-protection, and risk—not customers—are usually the driving forces at the table. That typically doesn’t make good long-term business sense.


A few years ago, a friend and colleague made a good point with a simple comment on a blog I wrote: “We employ user experience testing when designing software and technology tools, why don’t we do the same when designing programs or policies?”


Consider the customer’s point of view when creating policies. Use customer advisory boards, focus groups, and customer feedback to understand outside perceptions of potential policies, plans, and rules.


We employ user experience testing when designing software and technology tools, why don’t we do the same when designing programs or policies?


3. CX and business and operational risk.


Sometimes customers and employees can spot reputational and operational risks before you can. Years ago, during a feedback session, a client of the firm I was working for told me they were getting bills for another, completely different client of the firm. That’s an operational risk for the firm because bills can sometimes contain client confidential information.


When you ask the right questions, you can bake in opportunities to listen for risks. Inspectors General at the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration are now systematically using CX and employee experience data to assess business and operational risk. The Air Force is surveying military families to stay ahead of airmen's attrition risk.


Every organization is different, so choose listening methods that make sense. Examples include surveys, interviews, focus groups, and community listening events.


Sometimes customers can spot reputational and operational risks before you can. When you ask the right questions, you can bake in opportunities to listen for risks.

CX is a mindset. Unfortunately, you can’t call yourself a customer-centric business if you’re applying the mindset only to your sales processes and website. CX is about baking practices into the corners of your business every day. That includes the procurement ecosystem, policymaking, and business risk management.


Some great work has been done in the CX world so far. But really, we've only just begun. The best things can happen for your business when you don’t stop looking for customer-oriented opportunities. The best things can happen for customers and your business when you just don’t let up. 


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