Head of CX, EMEA Qualtrics
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From the top: Get your CX strategy back on track

5th Feb 2020
Head of CX, EMEA Qualtrics
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Customer experience

Over the past decade, customer experience (CX) has gone from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential part of business strategy. However, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to maintaining all of the elements that make a successful CX strategy work and flourish. 

While some C-level executives are ahead in the CX maturity curve, others are experiencing the growing pains of changing tack. A third category is the organisations whose CX programmes have been implemented, but are languishing. 

In these instances, it could be that senior members of the team were not fully ‘bought-in’ from the beginning or perhaps teams are focusing too doggedly on the metrics and not worrying enough about the thing that matters most in a CX programme: the customers. 

While this can be concerning and cause serious issues for both internal teams and the customers themselves, all hope is not lost and there are sure-fire ways to turn things around. Here are four tips to help the organisations that have lost their way: 

Make friends at the top of the house

As with any major shift in company culture, change needs to be driven from the top down — not just from the leadership team but from the CEO themselves. And CX programmes are no different.

Far too often, CX strategies wind up being siloed off from wider company activities, resulting in very little impact on the customer’s experience outside of superficial niceties. While there’s a time and place for these, what customers really appreciate is more substantial. 

Getting your C-suite onboard with that messaging can be easier said than done, however. It may be that they have lost interest, been pulled in another direction due to shifting business demands, or perhaps they were never fully on board in the first place

Whatever the situation, having buy-in and understanding from the C-level team is invaluable. Rather than relying on the dedicated CX team in your organisation to champion their own importance, the CEO should be fully behind the plan to integrate CX into how the organisation runs. 

Doing so could be an important factor contributing to business longevity and shifting from siloed CX to a culture of customer centricity.

Stop looking at metrics, start taking action

While it can be tempting for customer experience professionals to stay head-down in data, these roles are not just about crunching numbers. Data is undoubtedly important to the CX team, but what’s more important is the people who this information will ultimately affect the most: the customers. 

In reality, data means nothing if it doesn’t lead to clear actions. If customers take the trouble to provide feedback and it isn’t taken on board and acted on, they will soon lose loyalty and look elsewhere. 

Regular reviews and ‘pulse’ check-ins can help brands understand which initiatives are working and which might need to be overhauled. That way, CX programmes can be tailored and optimised as they evolve, and as customers continue to give feedback. 

Having the right technology in place to manage this approach is important, but simply investing in tools isn’t enough. Customer-facing brands must first put the work into understanding their own feedback cultures, creating an individually tailored approach to suit their unique challenges and biggest areas for improvement. Tools will help with this, but effective change must be driven by a commitment from corporate leadership to listen and act upon new ideas. 

Use your X and O data to deliver experience breakthroughs

Personalised and memorable experiences are vital to customers — they need to know that they’re buying into a brand that values them and knows them inside and out. This is the secret to success that keeps people coming back.  

Modern businesses know that this takes data. And while any customer-facing brands can spurt out numbers about its CX approach, real value comes from insights that go beyond the obvious. 

This means looking beyond “operational data” (O-data), which includes tangible stats like finance, sales and marketing data. While most companies are good at capturing and using this type of data, it no longer provides them with a competitive advantage that sets them apart. 

Instead, companies need experience data (X-data). This is the ‘human’ side of data that covers the emotions, beliefs and sentiments that a customer may have about your brand. In order to create a memorable and tailored experience that customers crave, this type of data is essential. 

But it’s not about one or the other. Combining both types of data is what smart businesses need to do to make a real difference to their customers. High level O-data on its own is just one piece of the puzzle. By utilising the deeper, qualitative insights that X data can bring to the table and combining it with informative, quantitative O-data, brands can uncover true and meaningful insights about their customers. 

Take the first steps to integrating your people, product and brand

It’s well-known that happy employees lead to happy customers. But there are other connections that brands need to make in order to make sure every interaction that people experience with a company is monitored for improvement areas in order to deliver an overall winning experience. 

Building a customer-centric culture is only the first step.  Optimising and expanding that culture out allows brands to spread its value beyond what the customers see to creating an overall experience. 

Experience management, or XM, is the “operating system” for a business. This means a seamless experience that runs through every possible touchpoint, not just the customer’s experience. 

Broken down into four categories; customer experience (CX), brand experience (BX), employee experience (EX) and product experience (PX), each pillar of XM supports the others and is an essential building block. 

To truly get a transformative impact, you really need to embrace and engage the organisation as a whole – that includes everyone from mid management to people on the front line.

Innovation often happens at a local level where people who are close to the issues are empowered to drive changes to solve them. A best-in-class XM programme democratises insights & actions by empowering local stakeholders (such as the regional team, dealership management and departmental leaders) to get the feedback that’s relevant for them and, ultimately, drive the right actions

It’s never too late to start making these improvements and create a seamless, high standard through every possible touchpoint. Rather than focusing purely on CX, businesses should focus on optimising all four experience pillars for the benefit of everyone who interacts with the brand. 

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