We have on several occasions talked about our partner organization, Customer Institute. If this your first time learning about it, Customer Institute is a global, international, independent, and non-for-profit organization committed to excellence in customer centricity. Our board consists of practitioners from top leading brands, consultants, academics, as well as solution providers to make sure we cover every aspect included in the process that makes customer centricity development a success.
For today’s article we asked the CI directors to name six biggest challenges CX professionals may encounter in their daily journey and what they can do to avoid those challenges or find a solution if it has already occurred. Below you will find their answers.
Number 6. Having a blind spot on employee experience
This may not be self-explanatory, so let’s dive in. This dangerous pitfall for sophisticated customer centricity initiatives has two aspects. Number one, you have to acknowledge that your employees are your internal customers. Missing out on this means missing out on a huge potential for improvement within the organization. As a seasoned CX expert, you surely concentrate on external processes, improving and streamlining them for reduced customer effort. However, that alone is not enough. Make sure the internal processes with your internal customers run as seamlessly as your external ones, so that the entire equation works.
As to the second aspect, think who knows better what’s going on in the company on the daily basis, what opinions customers raise, and what might be wrong with certain processes? Your employees are at the core of everything that happens in your organization, that’s why the best you can do is create a strong voice of the employee program that taps into their potential. Make sure everyone is heard and every suggestion is considered. If your employee program matches your voice of the customer program, this will be a huge first step to creating the best place to work in.
Number 5. Possessing data means possessing the key
Imagine being a pilot who flies an aircraft in poor visibility conditions, with every gadget labeled in the language he doesn’t understand, and on top of that he is blindfolded. That’s about how it feels to be operating without the proper data or proper tools to measure touch points across your customer journey and the performance of the teams that contribute most to your customer experience. Another very common pitfall related to data is operating with the wrong data. Sometimes you have to start with whatever’s available. But as you progress in mapping your customer journey, you may notice that the initial tools are becoming insufficient. Don’t ignore that.
And now finally, point number three, once you’ve identified what data you need and how to collect it, don’t let it just sit there on your table and get all dusty. Data is a great tool but on its own it is of little use. It has to be turned into insight, and for that you need to spend enough time with it. Make sure both data collection and analysis of ongoing and regular processes guarantee timely reaction to meaningful customer feedback. Here let’s once again stress the word “meaningful”. There are customers who complain very vocally just because they can. It is easier to notice them just because they are loud. But always remember that a loud complaint is not necessarily a meaningful one.
Number 4. Return On Investment
Several things can go wrong on this one. First, you have some great CX initiatives but you fail to prove how they impact the bottom line. Second possible challenge here is you actually can prove it but you forgot to do it. With all the things you have to do every day it is not entirely impossible. Time and time again you will see great customer centricity programs where the data was available, the analytical tools were available, all they had to do was take 600 customers out of their CRM system, do a multivariate correlation analysis to prove the impact on churn, on shopping basket, on purchasing frequency — anything that matters for your company’s bottomline. Never let yourself forget creating the success story of your CX initiative and share it with all relevant parties.
And third point is your executive team becomes impatient or has unrealistic expectations for the bottom line. This is avoidable if you set the goal right from the get-go. Educate your executive team, explain the essence of the maturity journey that the customer centricity is, communicate the goals and expectations correctly.
Number 3. All things culture
This challenge is multilayered, so let’s look at it one by one, as we don’t want to miss any of it. Let’s begin with underestimating the need for cultural change. If you want to become more customer centric, make sure every part of the organization is represented through ambassadors, and everyone in the organization understands it’s an initiative that will drive maturity over a long period of time, not a project that has to be completed by the end of the third quarter. Another thing to avoid is losing the outside view. When we are too focused on becoming efficient, on process optimization, on creating digital experiences, as often as not we lose that empathetic view on the needs of our customers. To ensure this doesn’t happen, everyone in the organization needs to be also empowered to deliver empathetic, human focused service.
Next threat in the cultural aspect is the wrong focus on the customer support organization. This often happens when the executive team believes that customer centricity just means fixing the customer support organization, or the country on the whole lacks focus on customer support and all customer centricity focus is delivered on product services, communication, and other areas. Here right attention, right resources, and right focus are essential to drive customer centricity where it matters most.
Also, much as everyone likes a good wow effect, it shouldn’t take away from the basics. Being focused on digital experiences, data, and being efficiency driven is all good but don’t forget to reliably and sustainably deliver basics to create effortlessness and sustainability for your customers.
Number 2. The executive team
It may sound funny but in fact, there is a lot of truth to it. Let’s say your CEO fully supported your program and was focused on delivering the goals. But then changes on the executive board occurred, and now you have a new CEO with a new agenda which does not necessarily benefit the customer centricity in your organization. Not because he is evil, but because he has never been subjected to it before.
On the other hand, he might be all for the CX initiatives but fails to bring the middle management aboard. They are not evil either, it’s just that the targets are set with no customer success metrics being included, or the incentives in the organization might be set based on business objectives, rather than on customer centricity goals. It is up to you to carefully guide the executive team towards the correct solutions. Don’t forget, customer centricity programs benefit the most from the participation of your executive team. This is one direction where horizontal communication with your peers will not be as efficient as a strong footprint in the executive team with regular conversations and influence.
Number one. Beware of inertia
In the aspect of customer centricity, inertia may show itself in two ways. First, lack of innovation. And second, lack of adaptability. Reliability and consistency are necessary, but if your sole focus is on delivering these two qualities, you lose the perspective on innovation. Forget the expression “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. You need to be constantly experimenting, constantly improving things that are actually already going well today, if you want to keep up with and outdo your competitors. Make sure you have systematic innovation tools in place, same as systematic quality control tools, so that innovation can expand beyond what is accepted as best practice today. Engaging in customer journey management is important but not enough. In addition, take care of your customers’ lifestyle management, bring more new topics to the table that might become relevant for your audiences today. Your program may be very successful as it is, but you can always imagine the next frontier, keep experimenting and innovating, and never stop challenging the status quo.
When it comes to the lack of adaptability, always think how your organization can change to become more empathetic. There’s a wonderful example from the dog products brand Chewy, where a subscription customer called into customer service to cancel his dog food subscription because his dog passed away. Not only did the customer service representative cancel and refund but he also sent flowers and a card with sympathy to the customer who went on to tell the world about it, that’s how we know this story.
What you need to focus on here is whether your organization is capable of those diversions from process and your employees are empowered to adapt to the ever changing needs of customers. Expectations in your customer base will be ever changing and ever growing, and if the reality you create exceeds their expectations, you will create customer satisfaction.
Which of these challenges have you encountered in your organization?
Do you have any practical tips to share?