How common is it for people to start the New Year out with a good intention of doing something better for themselves, their family, or their business? According to some references, over 60% of people start the year off by setting a New Year’s resolution, and the most common goal is related to improving health and losing weight.
January is a time when gym memberships spike and lines form at treadmills and elliptical machines. New Year’s resolutions are a good thing – studies have shown that those who make an explicit resolution to do something are 10 times more likely to achieve a specific goal than those who do not. But the cynical reality most people know about these resolutions is that they usually fall by the wayside as life after the holidays begins.
You joined the gym and bought a new workout outfit, but never saw the improvements you envisioned and eventually give up. The truth is that picking a goal and sticking to it is really hard to do. According to US News and World Report, over 80% of resolutions fail. According to market research company Statistic Brain, more than half do not even make it to the 6 month mark. While these goals start with good intentions, goal-setters sometimes don’t realize that achieving difficult goals takes a lot of hard work and discipline, patience, a plan, and a coach/partner.
I see the same reality unfold in major organizations as well when it comes to the good intentions of becoming more customer oriented.
Companies start by announcing that a focus on the customer is one of their new strategic areas of emphasis. They may change the company’s mission statement or external-facing communications and even start measuring their performance with their customers. While there may be modest organizational support around this new initiative, most employees (and leaders) do not know what becoming more customer oriented really means on a day-to-day basis.
The fanfare accompanying a new focus on customer experience creates high expectations – but gives little guidance for implementation and accountability.
Companies in this position will often start by measuring customer satisfaction through surveys or other research methodologies. While this is critical for establishing a baseline of performance and identifying needed insights for improvement, measurement alone does nothing to change the way a company delivers its goods and services to customers. It is like stepping on the scale every day and hoping to see your weight decrease without addressing the underlying causes of the weight – diet, exercise, sleep, possible medical conditions, and lifestyle.
For the company measuring customer satisfaction/loyalty/etc. these underlying causes are the customer orientation in processes (design, documentation, employee knowledge & application), customer-focused information (data integration, sources, VoC Program and levels of analysis), hiring, training, employee discretion, performance rewards programs, organizational structure and governance, cultural belief and cultural commitment.
This is a long list and even this could be broken down to more granular levels. The take-away here is that without addressing all of these elements when building out your organization’s customer-focused objectives, the company is likely to run into the same fate as the person who resolved to become healthier, joined the gym, and later quit because the gym membership did not cause them to lose the weight they wanted.
The secret to success is not all that complicated, but is rooted with taking small, appropriate next steps and not just focusing on the rewards of reaching the finish line. For organizations starting out on their customer experience improvement journey, the following are the high-level, small, and appropriate next steps:
- Map the journey your customers take with your company so everyone has a common mental framework of your customer
- Use the journey map to design a relationship-based survey
- Use the relationship survey to conduct a driver analysis so it is clear where improvement efforts should be prioritized
- Implement a VoC dashboard so everyone in the organization has access to the voice of the customer
- Create a governance structure around the VoC results which creates accountability for actions and allows for direct line of sight with senior management
In the initial stages of creating a CX program, it is tempting to get caught up with the latest article or conference presentation on advanced analytical techniques, experience design, text analytics, experimental designs, rewards and recognition programs, etc.
But at this point, it is most critical to focus on the basic building blocks of a solid customer experience framework for your organization. Once a solid base is in place, the next levels of customer experience improvement will be far more effective, in the same way that you wouldn’t sign up for an advanced cardio class without having a solid core of cardiovascular endurance first.
For those organizations starting out on their customer improvement journey, be sure to focus not simply on the outcome, but on creating a clear and deliberate plan which addresses each of the elements listed above.
To learn more about helping your CX program evolve, visit https://www.maritzcx.com/evolution/ to take a free CX maturity assessment.