“Do the whole job” is a mantra needed by our companies and society at large. Piecemeal efforts and short-term strategies ultimately lead to finger-in-the-dike management that is rampant today. All of the recent customer experience studies indicate that vital linkages are broken between:
survey results and business results
data and actions
goals across functions and business units
incentives and desired behaviors
multiple voice of customer sources
views of what customers want
brand promise and what’s delivered
What’s missing here is systems thinking! Systems thinking is a commitment to doing the whole job. It’s a holistic view of the components of an entity in the context of relationships with each other and with other entities, rather than in isolation. Doing the whole job is imperative for real improvement in customer experience. Every internal handoff may have a ripple effect on the customer, or at least on the customer-facing employee. In other words, frontline employees are only as effective as the rest of the organization enables them to be.
Coordinated deployment is essential among the following keys to systems thinking:
keep the big picture in mind
analyze root causes
nurture shared vision
fight sub-optimization: self-centricity versus customer-centricity
enable each company group to learn their impact on customer experience
select metrics that are both actionable and predictive
balance incentives with intended outcome
Customer loyalty/retention was priority number one in the first four reports from The Conference Board’s CEO Challenge survey. Recently that topic is superseded by execution, adaptability, economic performance, and sustained growth. Yet, 89% of firms view customer experience management (CEM) as either very important or critical to the firm’s strategy in 2009, according to Forrester Research’s Obstacles to Customer Experience Success report. Lack of systems thinking may account for the execution and adaptability hot buttons, as means to customer loyalty/retention, which if managed correctly, ultimately leads to stronger economic performance and sustained growth.
Perhaps the information age offers us too many options, and causes us to be sidetracked by piecemeal strategies, that ultimately become regarded as fads, although they may be valid and valuable components of the bigger picture. Systems thinking brings us back to basics. At the end of the day, superior customer experience is all about integrity. Doing the whole job reflects what’s needed from every individual as well as the champions of customer experience management.
Contact the author, Lynn Hunsaker, to find out how to customize these tips to your situation.
Lynn Hunsaker, Customer Experience Transformation Strategist, is head of ClearAction, Marketing Operations Partners, and the Marketing Future Forum. She has developed and led customer experience transformation for more than half of her career, as Voice of the Customer Manager...