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  • Writer's pictureKaryn Furstman, CCXP

Demystifying Customer Experience: 5 CX Veterans Share Wisdom - Guest Post by Karyn Furstman, CCXP

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

While the idea of delivering a great customer experience has been around for many years, I’m amazed at how often I hear of companies struggling to define, deliver, and tie it to long-term value. I asked my long-term CX friends...

“How have you turned the ‘concepts’ of CX into operational systematic change via ‘constructs’ such as strategy, accountability, and actions that drive value and business results? In other do you make CX real?"

Here is what they said.

“Define the Why.”

The biggest challenge we have as customer experience leaders is defining what success looks like for others in our organization. Too often, CX is led via tactics instead of strategy. Leaders start with ideas like "let's journey map!" But they haven't taken the time to get the foundation right. It's so important to define the WHY. I stress with leaders defining specific success metrics, including how CX goals and outcomes will serve the greater organizational goals and outcomes. We do this with something I call the CX success statement. Then, we leverage that strategic vision in real-world roadmaps and waterfall goals to achieve the defined outcomes. That way, leaders see how their role, their teams, and their outcomes are directly tied to CX success.

It takes time and a lot of communication and reinforcement to get everyone in the organization on board with not just the idea of customer experience, but what it means in real-world terms to our teams, and most importantly, our customers.

Jeannie Walters, CCXP - Keynote Speaker, CEO and Chief Customer Experience Investigator, Experience Investigators

“Make CX a culture transformation that is tied to values and behaviors.”

The most important and impactful work is making CX part of a culture transformation and understanding that culture is the combination of values and behaviors. Acceptable and unacceptable behaviors associated with each core value must be defined, socialized, and operationalized. When everyone on the team sees the impact of having customer-centric core values that solidify “how and why things are done around here,” it’s easier to do what’s right for the customer.

Making CX real begins with the understanding there is a problem and then leveraging tools such as gap surveys and journey maps. Gap surveys define where there are gaps and real pain points. One of my favorite examples of this was a client who uncovered major pain points within their account management team that matched up perfectly with customer dissatisfaction in the interactions with that team.

As for journey maps, there’s no way to make the customer experience more real than to have your CEO, your executives, and cross-functional stakeholders observe journey mapping workshops with customers. The moment they see/hear the pain that they cause for customers as they interact with the brand is the moment CX becomes very real for them. I’ve witnessed it many times, and it is quite eye-opening.

Annette Franz, CCXP - Author, Speaker, Founder, and CEO of CX Journey, Inc.

“Treat CX like a merger or an acquisition.”

The most common thing I see in companies is CX exhaustion. Money has been spent on CX initiatives, yet nothing has changed. You need to create form, function, and structure which leads to long term systemic change through a three-part strategy:

  1. Competency is developing the skill sets needed to do things differently. You need people who understand data to run your voice of customer program. You need designers to design experiences. You need behavioralists who understand how to ask questions the right way to get to more meaningful answers and design better solutions.

  2. Credibility is about being grounded in data and using existing systems or programs to bring credibility to the work. For a customer experience transformation to be successful, use structures such as business reviews and planning meetings so that it gets the attention it deserves.

  3. Culture is where you build a case for change that your leaders talk about. Where you clearly define the behaviors and outcomes you expect employees to embrace. This is also where you ensure that Customer Experience becomes an annual performance objective tied to compensation.

Far too often we treat customer experience like it is some magical, mystical thing. Move from treating CX likes a magical thing to treating it like a merger or an acquisition – or any other large-scale effort that your organization takes on across the organization.

Ingrid Lindberg - Keynote Speaker, Founder and CXO of Chief Customer Officer

“Define and measure what better CX means.”

Every organization wants “great CX.” But, getting there requires doing something beyond talking. In a past experience in government, I moved to operationalize practices to build coalitions and get traction quickly, given the organizational culture. In government, that cultural gravity pulled us toward CX governance. It’s what people understood.

My agency had a strategic goal to improve the ease of doing business for customers. So, I worked with people to set performance goals on customer administrative wait times—that’s one way our customers defined “ease.” Then, each week a cross-disciplinary team of people met in a mandatory meeting to monitor, triage, and track our performance toward our goals. Everyone at the table was accountable--we built that into our written group charter.

“Better” customer experience is a common business concept now. But what does “better” mean? Faster turnaround times, fewer complaints, fewer calls to a contact center? Decide. Define a target. Measure it. Triage it. Share the follow-up to-dos with teammates. That’s how you turn the concept of great CX into CX that’s actually great.

Stephanie Thum, CCXP - Founding Principal, Practical CX

In Conclusion...

Making CX real means building it into your processes and changing mindsets over time. One of the biggest challenges organizations face is breaking down the internal silos. CX governance helps break down those walls and needs to be driven not just at the C-suite, but cross-functionally across the operations while integrating the customer voice into the decision-making process. A strong leadership and governance process embedded into the rhythm of business will help unite the organization around a common goal while making it real, creating long-term value for your customers, and inspiring your employees.

What constructs do you use to make CX real in your organization?

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