Seeing CX through different eyes: Part 2

27th May 2020

How should we implement customer experience?

This is the second debate in a series by Michelle Spaul, CX and change specialist, and Leigh Hopwood, a marketer and business leader. Since meeting on LinkedIn conversing about CX, we have pulled together our viewpoints in a three-part series for MyCustomer. For part one (What does CX mean to you), click here

“I believe improving customer experience is transformative and, like any transformation, its implementation is complex,” says Michelle Spaul, CX and change specialist in this latest article debating CX through the eyes of Michelle and marketer and business leader, Leigh Hopwood.

Since meeting during a CX debate on LinkedIn, Michelle and Leigh have continued to share their views and experiences on CX recognising their different viewpoints, and where they agree. Here they debate how an organisation might approach a CX programme, recognising two quite different starting points. Where would you start?

Your people must believe CX is your primary business enabler

“Before we get to data and dashboards, processes and touch points, we need to have solid foundations,” says Michelle. First, your people must believe CX is your primary business enabler and they must be empowered to deliver transformation and continuous improvement as well as a compelling customer experience.”

Initially, Leigh agrees: “People need to believe in the customer experience. However, data and insights are needed first in order to define the CX so that you can recruit people that believe in it and meet its core values. For those that already work in an organisation, the culture of the organisation may require an overhaul to meet the requisites of a new customer experience – if an employee doesn’t believe CX is a business enabler then they may need something more tangible to believe in and not just a concept of CX.”

“Employing great people is much more than recruiting,” argues Michelle. “Great engagement models talk about training and skills development, accountability, reward and recognition, hassle free tech, processes and communications, confidence, permission, etc. without these, data is just weighing the pig.

“Second, comes culture. Your culture must support customer-oriented actions, leadership and process (touchpoint) design. Aspirations and goals must be shared and openly discussed.”

“The CEO and key leaders across a business define its culture,” adds Leigh, “not the words used in a description of the business culture. And culture in one division can be different to that in another, simply because of the beliefs and the behaviour of the leader. Therefore, without a clear definition of what CX is, it is less easy to effect culture to the benefit of the customer and their experiences of your business.”

The CEO and key leaders across a business define its culture, not the words used in a description of the business culture.

“We definitely agree about walking the walk,” says Michelle. “I guess I don’t agree that a measure of the current situation ‘defines the CX’ we want. It is an important baseline and vital in continuous improvement. But unless leaders show an interest and take action, the vision of CX will be vague and unachievable.

“Finally, governance must set and support objectives that enhance the customer experience. It defines standards for every touchpoint to be used in the design of products, services and touchpoints.”

Leigh is less sure: “It is not possible to design the governance to support CX without a definition of what the CX is for an organisation. A revolutionary approach to CX in an organisation may turn its approach to governance on its head. What works for one definition of CX may not work for another.”

In response, Michelle argues: “Governance is the mechanisms that turn vision into reality. Without governance – objective setting, role definitions, budgets – you can’t spend time or money collecting the data or agreeing the actions to take. You don’t need the whole shooting match before embarking on a CX implementation, an agenda item at board level may suffice in the short term.

“At the same time, I agree that CX recasts the business and its model and even more strongly that CX is not a one size fits all concept or implementation. However, I believe that well over 90% of the CX innovation is built outside the board room and depends on enabling people to spend time on it.”

“Without these foundations of people, culture and governance,” continues Michelle” data and dashboards can only report the maintenance of the status quo, and processes and touchpoints will fall short of customer expectations. Yet, people, culture and governance need data, they are strengthened by processes and tools.

“Implementing CX well depends on understanding how the business will manage the customer experience and the collection of touchpoints we call the customer journey. Only this combined understanding can design the processes and tools to deliver compelling customer experiences.”

Defining the customer experience

Leigh considers the approach Michelle has laid out and has an alternative view. 

“The starting point is surely to define the customer experience. How do you want customers to feel when they have contact with your organisation? This definition should be based on the brand values and brand promise and be drawn from strong customer insights and market research,” she says. “It is recognised that some customers may only tell you what you want to know, so it is important that to get this definition right a much deeper research programme should uncover what customers really think.

“Once defined, every business process, technology deployed and colleague behaviour should be reviewed and adapteDd to deliver that experience – including culture and governance. Measuring the impact is critical; does the business experience an uplift in customer retention? Is there an improvement in customer effort scores? Is there an increase in profitability?”

In response, Michelle suggests: “Once the change and delivery capabilities are defined and key elements are implemented you can define your future CX – ideally with the whole team. I tend to agree with adapting current capabilities (evolution) rather than starting with revolution and, of course, knowing how new ways of working have impacted customer experience is vital.

“I see a journey of understanding. For most businesses, direct measures (CSat, NPS, CES, etc) say ‘we had an impact’. Then measures like Churn and Customer Lifetime Value let us know that a better experience translates into business value. Finally, bottom line measures such as sales, cost of sales, customer service costs and margins let us know if the investment is securing the future of the business.”

In conclusion, Michelle and Leigh clearly don’t agree on the first steps to implement CX within a business, but they do agree that the impact of CX can be measured across the business, and it should be measured to better understand the consequence of incremental and significant business improvement.

Articles in this series:

 

About the authors: 

Leigh and Michelle met on LinkedIn over a conversation about the ownership of customer experience. This series explores different viewpoints about the most pressing questions in CX today. Although there is broad agreement that CX is a good thing to implement, there is much debate about how it should be implemented. You may even recognise some of the arguments in this series.

Michelle Spaul is a customer experience and change consultant, guiding leaders who want to use CX as a lever to enhance business performance. She believes successful CX management engages people, culture and governance before data and IT. Read more or get in touch at https://customerexperienceconsultant.co.uk or https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-spaul-customerexperience/

Leigh Hopwood is a business and marketing leader who works with organisations of all sizes to transform their approach to business through improved marketing by putting the customer first. Find out more or get in touch at https://reddmarketing.co.uk or https://www.linkedin.com/in/leighhopwood/.

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