What’s at the center of your CX strategy?
Are customers at the center of your CX strategy? That may sound like an obvious question with a resounding “yes, of course” for an answer. But it’s not as obvious as you may think because many companies simply aren’t structured to support a full circle CX strategy.
There’s a renewed emphasis on CX and it’s going to trend big through 2017. But, talking about trends is one thing and taking action is definitely another. This year, will companies just pay lip service to jumping on the CX bandwagon or will they really make the substantial internal process improvements to truly improve the customer experience?
Without sounding pessimistic, most companies are still hindered by departmental silos, competing priorities, and disparate technologies across the journey. Make things worse by noting that even with all of the techniques and information available about the value journey mapping, an Econsultancy.com Ltd. survey of more than 2,000 marketers and e-commerce executives reveals that only 17% map the customer journey and 83% are unclear about customers’ path and intentions.
And, adding new customer communication channels does not seem to be the answer. It may, in fact, cloud an already cloudy picture.
According to MyCustomer.com, “There has been a rise in investment to support new digital channels and service models that are favoured by today’s customers. But the concern is that digital transformation and the introduction of new channels is, in many cases, building on foundations made of sand. Because while new innovations, touchpoints and technologies are being added, businesses are failing to address the structural, functional and process problems that are the main culprits for customer dissatisfaction.”
This statement is further backed by an Economist Intelligence Unit survey of about 500 executives and 2,400 consumers, which showed that departmental silos (36%) and a lack of integrated information systems (27%) are the top obstacles in creating a more unified customer experience.
So, amid all of this grim news, how can organizations deliver a positive customer experience across multiple-channel environments, even with some significant, departmental, and operational limitations?
Eric Berrige, CEO and cofounder of Bluewolf, recently said: “Organizations are rethinking customer experience and the platforms they use for it. They are rethinking in a way that puts the customer at the center of the platform. That doesn’t sound revolutionary until you realize that most companies in the last 25 years have built systems around their products, not around their customers.”
I’ll take this one step further.
Companies have indeed “built systems around their products, not around their customers,” but they have also forgotten about another key ingredient in the CX recipe: employees. Imagine how streamlined engagement and interactions could be if systems were built to connect and align employees with customers? Imagine if the task at hand were to satisfy both parties (while also delivering on sales and service goals, of course).
“The relationship between staff satisfaction and customer satisfaction was first noted nearly 20 years ago. And even in an age of increasing self-service it remains important because when you do want to speak to someone, it is pretty important and you want that person to be empathetic, helpful, experienced and energetic – none of which is likely to be the case if they are unhappy in their job. So now we are looking at twin centricities – staff-centric to be customer-centric” (MyCustomer).
The numerous challenges that companies face to solve CX issues (several identified above), should not be addressed in a vacuum. They need to be looked at with great consideration for the employee experience, as well. Most organizations are not likely to take a wrecking ball to departmental silos (now or perhaps ever), but we can at the very least remember the “it takes two to tango” adage. Every interaction has [at least] two sides. Smoothing the steps for one and not the other seems like a false and maybe fruitless attempt at improving the business.
This may be another good reason to consider the newly popular, cross-functional role of a chief experience officer (CXO) or similar. Many forward-thinking businesses have already hired these roles to lead complex CX initiatives and unify efforts across multiple departments. Your CXO will not be surprised at my assertion that employees must share the center of your CX strategy. Staff empowerment, collaboration, and information sharing will consistently strengthen connections with customers — driving loyalty and retention on both sides.
2017 may turn out to be the year of customer and employee experience. Not one; not the other, but both inextricably tied to the human experience on both sides of the equation.