Opinion piece: How do you ensure that Customer Experience (CX) gets across all levels of the organization? How do you make sure that everyone contributes and plays their part asks Eytan Hattem of the Prodware Group?

A few years ago, the term CX was an aerodynamic-related term and designated the drag coefficient used to quantify the drag or resistance of an object in a fluid or environment such as air or water. The well-known car manufacturer whose logo is made up of two chevrons actually branded one of its cars CX because of its stellar CX performance. Today, as it also designates Customer Experience (CX), it still refers to the drag but the drag related to that of markets to tap into, capture and doing so as fast as possible. Organizations have in fact understood that to succeed, to push back the barriers and gain new market share they needed an approach centered around Customer Experience. Fine, but how do you roll out such an approach or strategy? How do you deliver on your CX promise at all levels of your organization? How do you make sure everyone contributes and feels empowered to play their part in delivering the expected CX?

Usually, once you set up a CX program with different initiatives and action plans, the process in itself tends to come to a standstill. The teams are faced with several challenges: prioritizing tasks, training, engaging the execution teams, the buy-in of management, budget allocation, expected ROI and so on…

The goal of this article: provide a proven CX framework that enables task assignment, task management, structure and performance management of a full-fledged CX rollout.

CX – Unleashing energies & weaknesses unraveled

A standard CX approach starts with agreeing on the actual strategy, followed by the CX assessment phase to determine the CX maturity index, then defining the personas, mapping the customer journey and collecting the Voice of the Customer data. These tools are the pillars that allow for real hands-on improvement of the Customer Experience.   

Then comes that crucial moment, the deployment phase, where the organization has to turn those CX concepts into reality. Often enough this step usually brings the weaknesses of an organization to the fore: working in silos, KPIs that do not reflect the business, outdated processes and so on…Change management plays therefore an essential role for the CX experts.

CX Priorities

With the mapping of the customer journey done, now comes the list of action items in order of priority. We set these priorities based on a cost/benefit model. This model assesses the customer benefits compared to the cost and effort required by the organization to roll out these priorities. The designated stakeholders are then asked to rank these priorities by importance. This not only helps determine the feasibility of these priorities (or initiatives) but to also work on the buy-in of the people tasked with the roll out.

The mapping of the transformation is also a tool that brings visibility and allows to appreciate the short-term, mid-term and long-term activities of the overall CX program. This is absolutely pivotal for the leadership team of a business. They get front-row seats to what is going on and get to know exactly the ins and outs of the project, the nature of the different projects per domain, highlight the different dependencies and agree on the expected outcomes of this new model. Additional pieces of information related to the project are also included such as the code, the status and the priority level of the project. Stakeholders therefore get a holistic and better understanding of all the related implications of the project.

CX & Overcoming Obstacles

If agility is what makes the success of a CX project, you however still need to prepare. Once you have set up and defined your priorities you then need to classify the different resulting initiatives into project “batches”, list the action items, set deadlines and determine the different action owners.  

The below “check list” will help you overcome the different road bumps that may stunt your productivity:

  • Make sure to create a project charter to list the objectives, the benefits of the project, an official definition of what a “completed task” means (in other words a successfully completed task) and what the most defining phases of the project are
  • Train all the employees involved in the project on a task management application so that tasks and weekly goals can be assigned and that action items can be measured
  • Set up weekly meetings to follow up project task list, road bumps, and commend successful milestones and plan the following week’s action items
  • Have 15-minute work huddles to make sure the day is planned to be as productive as possible
  • Make sure that the leaders are involved and all in, with them hosting bi-monthly or monthly meetings with dashboards and even gamification tools
  • Set up automated notifications, assign tasks, integrate emails and all the tasks that need to be completed during a given day
  • Design the dashboards needed for reporting purposes

The Aerodynamic property of CX with the Change Board

The projects and the list of the different CX tasks make up a dynamic repository and it is during this specific execution phase that new tasks get added and need to be prioritized.   

The execution of a new project could turn out to be urgent for several reasons: volatile markets, change in the organization, VoC data that has been collected, and so on…that may come in different forms over time. Here too, agility will get you through to ensure that whatever you plan to execute is sensible.  

The new tasks submitted need to go through a qualification process and get transferred to a group of people within the change management committee. The committee’s role is to rank the importance of these new tasks, a deadline to get them done and to allocate the required resources. Change Boards need to be aggregated approximately once a month because more would only confuse things. The overall task management and execution of tasks ongoing and planned in the future need to comply with the limits and the framework agreed on when defining the CX strategy.  

When Customer Obsession leads to Customer Success 

And this final and essential point of how do you get the employees and management to participate and take an active role in driving the roll out of a CX strategy? One of the ways is to follow these different recommendations and foster a customer-centric DNA. What is also known as Customer Obsession consists in an organization hyperfocusing on creating a better customer experience with the brand or the company.  

Here are a few pieces of advice important to remember in order to establish a customer-centric culture:

  • A thorough understanding of what a CX initiative and strategy implies for an organization
  • Engaging all the company stakeholders in the program right from the get-go of the program 
  • Prioritizing cost/benefits of the different CX initiatives
  • Having agile CX teams fully trained and engaged
  • Weekly updates to monitor the advancement of the project and generate a sense of accomplishment
  • A « lead by example » management mode by communicating on the different CX customer success stories
  • Creating a Voice of the Customer program that will help adjust and tweak the CX program in real time 
  • Working on the buy-in of all the employees so that they feel fully invested and ready to take part in delivering a high-quality CX
  • In essence, there are 3 golden rules when it comes to the best practices when implementing CX: a robust CX methodology, technology and agility. The benefits are pretty obvious: sustainable business success, change in culture and an enhanced employee experience.

Article initially published in Zdnet.fr