In today’s world, receiving customer experience feedback surveys seems part of almost every transaction. From opening a bank account, taking out an insurance policy, to going on holiday and even buying groceries in the supermarket. There is no doubt that companies are seeing the value in collecting customer data. However, what is less certain is what they are doing with this information to improve customer experiences on a day-to-day basis. If anything, we seem to hear a growing number of people talking about ‘service not being what it used to be’ or some companies asking for good service scores without living up to those standards. So, where is the disconnect?
The key to the problem lies in the fact that collecting data and creating scores does not in itself improve customer experience. Crucially, it is the actions taken to drive outcomes based on this feedback that create the service improvements these businesses and their customers are seeking. It is somewhat like a gym membership, just having it will not make you fit. Regular attendance, effort and use of the facilities are essential if you want to see the changes you are looking for.
How to Move Towards a Focus on Outcomes
Not taking action on data collected is understandable. Companies see the importance and put programs in place to collect data but then find it difficult to engage behind CX efforts, make the changes needed, or promote implementation to the highest level in the organization. It is easier to spend time deciding the metrics, questions and survey structures than addressing the resulting core organizational issues and actions necessary to effect change.
So, what can organizations do to move from scores to outcomes? Here are six ways companies can begin to focus more on their customers rather than the scores they give.
Understand Business Needs and Design with the End in Mind
The more we understand about what it is the business is looking to achieve (i.e. ‘the outcome’), the better we can focus the information collected and take targeted action. Stop collecting information for information’s sake. Make sure what is collected has a designated purpose for a defined audience. This process can also include internal assessment. You’ll see not only what information is needed but where in the organization this information needs to flow in order to drive change.
Engage the Front Line
Evidence suggests employees feel empowered to understand and do their jobs better when they are provided with the appropriate tools. Getting CX feedback to frontline employees that are interacting with customers can be seen as a critical tool for engagement and success. It can help the understanding of both where things need improving as well as allowing them to feel motivated through strengths and celebratory feedback. We all like to hear praise every now and again! Providing this information can also send a powerful message of the importance of CX and the impetus the business places on it.
Move from Scores to Actions
In the CX world we spend a lot of time looking at scores, but now is time to go beyond scores and take action. There are some key initiatives that can be used to create both short and long term action. Case management allows business to deal with immediate customer issues. Providing the potential of turning unhappy customers into advocates through addressing their concerns quickly and to their satisfaction. Most customers expect occasional lapses in service. Prompt and effective remedy is a key service differentiator For long-term performance improvements, action plans based on prioritization can help drive long-term improvements. Get the business to focus on those areas with the biggest return. Review and monitor those action plans to ensure that the expected gains have been made.
Target and Incentivize Sensibly to Achieve Performance Gains
Incentives and targets can be very effective in helping to drive focus towards the importance of achieving required CX outcomes. However, these must be designed and administered sensibly or the result can be score chasing rather than true performance improvement. Much of the score begging we find is often a result of poorly thought-out incentives. Set targets that are realistic and pave the path to where you want to go, remembering that it may take time to achieve the ultimate outcome. The use of both short and longer term goals can be more motivating that one long-term unachievable objective. With every program, monitor carefully and adjust if unwanted behaviors are resulting.
Link the Scores Back to Business Outcomes
Once you have started to take action based on CX rather than just measure it, link the improvements with other important financial metrics such as profitability to assess impact. This can act as an important gauge to both how well your program is doing and if the desired business outcomes are being achieved. This process can also help in the refinement of CX programs, homing focus on those areas most strongly linked with these business outcomes.
Make it a Board-Level Priority
How important is CX to the organization? Savvy executives understand that it is not just about WHAT you deliver, but HOW you deliver it. A top down conviction and purpose to serve the customer’s true needs and creating a customer-centric organization should be made clear to every employee. However, it is not enough to say it. There needs to be real belief and openness to drive to change. Championing CX at this high level should smooth the way for the breakdown of red tape, allowing the organizational changes needed to facilitate the delivery of the CX models within the business.
Drive towards Customer Centricity
Undertaking CX programs and collecting customer feedback is a great first step to a better customer delivery, however just collecting scores is not enough. To truly be a customer-centric organizations and deliver to need, it is critical to move from scores to actions and outcomes. Although not always easy, embracing this change within the organization will help move the needle both from a customer and financial perspective, allowing progression along the CX evolutionary chain and the return on investment to be realized.