Three Mistakes Companies Make Executing Customer Experience
by Danyel LaGow, CCXP
Your customer experience is your brand. Without question, CX is the biggest platform on which all of us compete today. How your customers feel about you—your products and services and their interactions with your company—can make or break your relationship with them (and with their network; you know how that goes). As this reality comes into sharp focus, more companies are making dedicated investments into CX as a part of their growth strategies.
Our clients are consistently committed to the long-term effort demanded from CX initiatives. Even so, it can be very easy to fall into some common pitfalls when it comes to CX as a whole, as these efforts are complex and far-reaching. As such, slipping into some of the mistakes is in no way a reflection of the good work these teams are doing. The good news is that these mistakes are something you can work to avoid if you know what to look for.
Mistake #1: Not Having Your Customers Validate the Journey Map
This is an interesting one. It is actually not uncommon to go through the exercise of customer journey mapping and skip the customer validation step. We have clients that do so for a variety of reasons, but I firmly believe that customer validation cannot be ignored forever. To really get this step right, you must bring your customers in.
While views on this may vary, my team always advocates that the journey map workshop itself be host to a cross-functional INTERNAL team. Often, this is an eye-opening exercise; having the ability for various team members to participate openly and honestly is vital to success. Frankly, as team members are hashing out pain points across the journey, this isn’t always something you want to do with customers in the room. That being said, you should take the output and validate it with customers.
There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on your budget, time, and appetite.
- First, you can do in-person and/or remote interviews with a select group of customers. Walk them through the map and pain points, as well as the list of experience needs that your team identified in the workshop. Customers will be able to provide more detail and help you determine what is and isn’t important. For companies where the executive leadership is less excited about the customer validation step, this is a great way to get to that insight with only a small investment.
- Second, we have done more elaborate customer validation through design thinking “co-creation” labs. Here, you bring a select group of customers in alongside key employees who were involved in the original customer journey workshop to work through the journey map, amending the map and validating your experience needs list with their input. This method is a much deeper and more intimate way of involving customers, and can potentially tease out a more informative response. Nothing brings excitement and attention to a matter more than when the customer is in the building.
Connecting with your customers is a powerful thing. Having the validation of your customers creates a more meaningful roadmap to execute. It also takes the onus of the journey map off of a specific department (the team who sponsored the journey mapping workshop) and becomes the customer’s voice.
Mistake #2: Not Having CX Governance In Place to Ensure Accountability
While there is almost always a very strong commitment from the leader or sponsor of a CX effort, there is all too often a less structured commitment from other parts of the business. This is a big deal because governance and structure are key when it comes to executing on CX (and making all the investments you’ve already made work better for you).
As CX continues to expand within organizations, so too will the size of the teams supporting it. But for now, even in large organizations, CX is often a team of a few. Their dedication and excitement often get things started, but long-term success will demand that other parts of the business are not just invited, but expected to engage.
There is more than one method for formalizing CX accountability:
- You can bring CX into existing steering committees inside your organization. By bringing both your CX leader and their topics into various established governance pieces, you start to naturally introduce the customer— and the work being done around CX— into more decisions in the company.
- You can also create your own CX committee comprised of cross-functional leaders that review progress and the initiatives you are putting forward at regular intervals.
In fact, you can do both: create a committee and bring CX into existing committees. Really, it’s about making sure that the rest of the leaders understand how they are plugged into CX day-to-day. Simply put: one person or team cannot be responsible for CX. All leaders need to get on board, and the best way to do that is to get them involved and connect them closer to the customer.
Mistake #3: Shelving the Journey Map and Not Leveraging It To Guide Business Decisions
Once an end-to-end customer journey map is complete, it becomes a living breathing tool for all parts of the organization. Leveraged properly, it allows the company to weigh the customer experience in a multitude of business decisions, from employee experience to technology investments.
- Socializing the journey map is a first and necessary step. Make sure that teams across the organization know it exists and how they can use it. Set up meetings, post the journey map, walk people through it, and invite teams to ask questions.
- Next, keep the CX excitement and momentum going in your organization by continuing to have cross-functional working sessions that use the customer journey map as the backbone of the discussion. Once you have identified areas across the customer journey that need to be improved, come back to the journey map and use it to inform and help prioritize key business decisions.
For instance, we have had clients overlay internal improvements on their journey map, identifying things like timeliness, handoffs, communications, and duplication. IT teams can use the journey map to identify places where value stream mapping can be done to improve technology systems and processes. Operations teams can overlay broken processes across the customer journey to see how they can streamline processes better – to allow for better experiences. The opportunities are endless if the teams know how to participate.
The best part about these strategies is that they are actionable and attainable. For busy CX professionals, the last thing we want to do is suggest laborious efforts with little reward. With just a little extra effort, these steps can help ensure the work you’ve put into your existing customer experience initiatives is paying off as best as possible.
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