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Leading the CX Culture (R)Evolution

4th Jan 2021
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Expert views on Leading the CX Culture (R)Evolution

In this short article I want to discuss why addressing the strategic and technical challenges facing Customer Experience professionals in 2021 is also going to need a rethink about corporate culture, especially as it applies to Customer Experience and Customer Centricity.

If I was asked to sum up last year in one word, that word would be ‘transformative’ – the pandemic had a global impact on society, business and government at a speed and scale that few could have anticipated and acted as a catalyst for change (perhaps in much the same way that throwing a hand-grenade into a room causes change).

Whilst most of that change was for the worse and created huge challenges, in some cases it also created new opportunities. For example, many of the established ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers struggled with the demands of lockdowns, disrupted supply chains and collapsing consumer confidence, yet those that were already online (or could rapidly become so) boomed. It was a question of evolution – those most able to adapt to the ‘new reality’ were able to out-compete their peers and also grab market share.

Consumers were also changing their outlook and their shopping behaviours. The new ‘Covid Consumer’ similarly had to cope with working from home, maintaining social distance and limited access to their favourite retailers. In addition to which, they faced a great deal of uncertainty – especially about their health and finances. Yet they adapted, people became more comfortable with shopping on digital channels. Their priorities also shifted, old habits were dropped and new ones formed. The reasons they shopped, what they wanted and valued, and how they shopped likewise changed – in some cases radically.

At the start of 2020, some pundits were already questioning the future direction of Customer Experience: it appeared that, after a decade of hard work and incremental evolution, all the CX ‘quick wins’ had been won and the ‘low-hanging fruit’ picked. ‘Customer Experience’ and ‘Customer-Centricity’ were already mainstream topics and those organisations considered leaders in CX were looking around for the next big leap forward in CX thinking, technologies and techniques. That search is still underway, with a lot of discussion about things like ‘automation’, AI, ‘corporate empathy’, ‘human-centred design’ and so on (I for one have certainly been discussing them all).

However, last year also accelerated the pace of change along the whole value chain: from suppliers, involving employees, to the experiences delivered to consumers. It was a year of ‘transformation on steroids’ - almost every aspect of operations was effected and whilst for some it was a simple battle for survival, even the most bullish conceded that the ‘new normal’ is probably not going to be a quick return to the ‘old normal’. The established paradigms about CX are being challenged and there has never been a greater need for new thinking and new ‘doing’

At the end of this month, in a new international CX conference – the CX summit – I will be the opening keynote speaker: my presentation is entitled ‘The Need for New CX Strategies for a New Year’ where I intend to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities ahead, as well what strategies businesses should be thinking about now to capture or protect market share over the next two-to-three years.

I’m not alone in thinking about this subject. In December, published an article ‘Community and VoC: The CX trends set to characterise 2021’, the latest in a long list of forward-looking insights and commentary.

Yet there is one thing that I don’t cover in my presentation but that cannot be ignored – culture.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast – Peter Drucker

So I am delighted to also be moderating an expert panel to discuss this very subject. Joining me are:

All of whom have been both operational CX leads, as well as board-level advisors, with years of international experience in breadth and depth, and covering a range of industries.

We will discuss how organisations should embark upon the next phase of Customer Experience strategy – evolving from being ‘customer-centric’ to ‘stakeholder-centric’ and why 2021 will be the year of CX transformation, as well as what makes a truly effective CX program; one that serves customers, employees, the wider business and shareholders.

These experts will debate what is meant by ‘CX culture’ and why it needs to evolve, as well as the relationship between value-creation and organisational ‘purpose’ and whether this needs to change. (We would also like to discuss how an organisation should measure itself in a stakeholder-centric environment, but suspect there won’t be enough time).

So, why the strange title for this article? It is because I genuinely believe that in order to be successful in 2021, CX professionals are going to have to address corporate culture in a new way – one that it is going to take more than incremental change: nothing short of a revolution in the way that organisations think about customers, employees and the wider community.

So, how can you take part?

  • You can register for the conference (if you use the coupon code ‘dorrington’ you will get a 10% discount) - there are speakers from 10 countries, covering a broad range of CX topics over the course of the whole day, so it’s an excellent investment.
  • Alternatively, email me your questions and I will see if I and the panel can answer them offline, or I will try and address them in my upcoming articles and blogs.

Whatever you have planned for 2021, I wish you every success and hope you can join me on the 28th and start this year ready for whatever the world has in store for us. Personally, I am realistically optimistic, and you should be too!

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