CGA has supported clients for 21 years to develop strategy, value propositions and initiatives which put the customer at the heart of decision-making. The philosophical decision to focus on customers is arguably not a difficult one to make. The challenge is knowing how to make tangible CX improvements which are sustainable for the customer and ultimately profitable for the business.
We know that being appointed to a position as Head of Customer Experience is an exciting role, and one which has a broad remit. The challenges can also be daunting, and the role can often make the incumbent feel somewhat lonely in their true ability to drive change across a complex organisation.
Whether we like it or not, there are several inherent and common organisational challenges which need to be addressed for CX initiatives to have a chance of creating real impact. Our goal in this article is to shine a light on those challenges with some practical suggestions on how to resolve them!
The C-suite has just decided that it’s high time the business focused more on its customers, and there are typically many different drivers of that decision – a disruptive new market entrant, poor customer feedback, changing customer habits, or a new CEO who sees a need for urgent improvement. Whatever the case for change may be, getting started is philosophically relatively easy. Here are some of the challenges which need addressing:
The vision or ambition is not clear
You know you need to “do something”, but no-one really knows or can articulate what success should look like.
It is fine to start with some mapping exercises to diagnose where the true customer pain points lie or what the adjusted value proposition might look like. BUT sooner or later it’s critical that a customer (experience) strategy gets defined, articulated, and embraced by all.
Without a clear articulation of the overall customer value proposition, the promises you want to make to your customers, and a roadmap of capabilities to underpin those promises…then any short-term initiative will risk a lack of context and its fit with a bigger purpose to ensure it gets the right support & priority.
The capability gap and lack of organisational CX maturity
So often we observe that clients tend to overestimate their true capability relative to the customer experience they think they are delivering. A famous Bain study highlighted that 80% of CEOs interviewed thought their companies were delivering a superior customer experience; unfortunately, only 8% of their customers agreed with them!
A typical example of a lack of CX maturity is where customer service gets confused with customer experience. What we mean by that is when the focus tends to be around operational interactions when customers need help, rather than how they are made to feel across their end-to-end experience or lifecycle. Often clients want to focus just on the operational or transactional journey “from order to cash”. This is fine, but it may miss the bigger issues of things like reputation, trust and loyalty.
The solution to these kinds of issues is to audit your level of CX maturity objectively to understand what you can really rely on, versus the internal issues which will need a solution to avoid derailing planned CX improvements. You can read more about CGA’s CX maturity audit (COMPASS by CGA) here.
Clarity on short term goals and a roadmap
As we observed above in GETTING STARTED, there is a real imperative at some point to articulate a customer strategy and get everyone to understand the rationale and implications. If you have succeeded in landing that customer strategy, then setting short term goals and getting the right support for them becomes a lot easier. Trying to get traction for CX improvements in isolation risks being a real challenge.
In addition, there will always be “quick wins” in CX improvements where you can generate enthusiasm and demonstrate the payback to the business. Those quick wins will often take the form of redesigning wasteful processes for example, or better management of customer communications.
Some improvements, however, will take time to develop and require a longer time frame with budget and resource demands. Having a roadmap linked to your customer strategy will help to ensure that you get traction and maintain enthusiasm for the initiatives which take longer to implement.
Culture, skills & coaching
Enthusiasm will always provide the energy for change, but poor performance in CX is often driven by organisational culture, skills or just plain awareness. The challenge is to position CX improvements strategically, get full support from committed management, and to recognise that the employee engagement requirement is fundamental to success. Avoid at all costs the phenomenon of CX initiatives being treated and positioned like short term “projects”.
We can’t emphasise enough the imperative of great internal communication, and systematic engagement with the organisation so that they are fully bought into the changes they need to embrace to underpin success. Any roadmap must include addressing the soft issues like culture, education and required skills.
Putting VOC at the heart of decision making
Finally is the challenge of making best use of customer insight for operational as well as strategic decision-making.
We so often observe organisations which gather a lot of data and report on it…but then not much happens! That “insight to action” gap might be the result of a number of issues like getting the right insight to the right people; it might be a reflection of low maturity where the organisation may not have the right skills or culture; very often we find that VOC programmes have not been designed from a true customer perspective and therefore the data is not necessarily asking the right questions in the right language.
Whatever the issue, asking the right customer questions with the right language at the right moment, and enabling the organisation to act upon the insight becomes mission critical.
Clarity on short term goals and a roadmap
So we agree that the philosophical decision to put customers at the centre of decision making is relatively easy! The reality of making it happen, taking the organisation with you on a journey and proving the value or ROI to the business is where the real challenges lie. Navigating that experience is what CGA does…and we would be delighted to help you plot a course!
At CGA we help businesses to transform and evolve their customer experience to support the commercial success, the brand reputation and long-term future of your organisation. You can start by getting a true insight into your current customer experience status and capabilities with our maturity audit tool. Or to find out more about our services, contact us any time.