Can Customer Experience Drive Business Decisions?

Companies are getting more serious about delivering a better customer experience. Thanks to research firms, passionate consultants and champions inside company walls, senior executives are more aware of CX and willing to support staff and programs to improve it. So how far will they go? Right now it’s about making business decisions and then trying to wrap a better customer experience around how that decision plays out. This is a good start, but probably won’t be enough long term. More on this later.

Why the hesitation? Pretty simple. Senior execs are comfortable with the notion that a good customer experience will mean a positive brand experience in most cases, and they will even extend that thought to believing that this will cause a customer to be more loyal. But the data to support that is slippery. Not necessarily because it’s not there, but because it’s more difficult to track and prove. All of us need help here.

I respect and closely follow Bruce Temkin. He is a real customer experience transformist (his word) having spent time at Forrester Research and is now out on his own. He seems to have devoted his entire life to defining and championing great customer experience. In 2008 he set forth a collection of fundamental truths (according to him) about how customer experience operates. Here are his 6 Laws of CXP:

  1. Every interaction creates a personal reaction
  2. People are instinctively self-centered
  3. Customer familiarity breeds alignment
  4. Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers
  5. Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated
  6. You can’t fake it

I would encourage you to read his blog, Customer Experience Matters on a regular basis to get first hand observations, research reports and opinions from a true professional in the CX space. There is no doubt that he has a guaranteed spot in CX Heaven, if there is such a place.

Back to the corporate world. Yes we must.

Some big companies are beginning to appoint a customer experience leader, give her authority, a budget and the ear of a very senior exec so there is bite to the bark. This is great, but it cannot be the “flavor of the month” or a “one year program.” Employees see right through this. They will play along, but will not seriously internalize it into their daily routine. You either make it part of what you do and how you do it, or not, long term. It’s that basic.

A great customer experience can be difficult to define, but everyone recognizes it when they see it. This is the core of CX and why data is so hard to come by. It’s at the whim of human interpretation. But it’s important to recognize that it’s not magic and not always emotional. It’s what’s right and people know when it’s right. I’m frequently tempted to say Human Experience, not Customer Experience. You heard it here first. People design the systems, functionality, rules, policies, and basic standards that a company creates on a daily basis. Empower your people to create what’s right and you will be well on your way.

How will you know when you are making progress? When you CEO or President or CMO comes to you and says something like, “I want to make business decisions based on how we can deliver a great customer experience.” The best strategy could be faxed to your arch rival and it would be useless to them because they either wouldn’t know what it meant or couldn’t possibly execute it themselves. Right now, today, if you had a real customer experience strategy you could fax it to  your competitor. That is if you could fax it.

Graphic courtesy of sylvainpaillard.com.

3 comments

  1. Steve- great blog post. The part about integrating the customer service executive into the long term strategy of the company as more than just a program resonated with me. If the employees don’t see the long term commitment – you are right, it will show in everything they do.

    I’m sharing your post with a few of my colleagues over here at Genesys.

    1. Lorie,

      Thanks for the comment and for sharing with your team members. I’ve seem lots of “programs” that go by the wayside.

      Cheers,

      Steve

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