CX programme out of steam

CX strategy ran out of steam? How to renew your programme in 90 days


Many organisations have worked through their first phase of customer experience change and are struggling to identify what they should do next, while under pressure to demonstrate the ROI of CX investments. Peter Dorrington outlines a 90-day framework to steer your way forward. 

13th Feb 2020

To celebrate the launch of my new business - XMplify Consulting Ltd - I would like to share my thoughts about how to quick-start an experience management programme.

What is XM and why does it matter?

Experience management (XM) lies at the intersection of customer experience (CX), employee experience (EX) and for some organisations, partner experience (PX). It is a practical approach for managing all the interactions customers, employees and business partners have with an organisation, throughout the lifetime of their relationship - before, during and after any specific interaction or touchpoint.

You need to be thinking about XM if you want to:

  • Know what really matters to your customers, employees and business partners.
  • Balance and optimise those needs.
  • Quantify the business impact of your investments in the 'Experience Economy'.
  • Identify the capabilities you will need to excel, to be more empathic, engaging and relevant - now and in the future.

Done well, experience management can quantifiably:

  • Differentiate you from your competition.
  • Increase sales.
  • Protect margins.
  • Improve satisfaction and advocacy.
  • Lower costs, and
  • Reduce customer and employee attrition (churn).

Many organisations have already embarked on initiatives to improve the customer experience and / or engage employees more deeply, but as Forrester states in its predictions for 2020: 'Could CX become a victim of its own success? Mature CX orgs have cleared out the low-hanging fruit. To continue succeeding, CX leaders must prove the ROI of CX investments in 2020.'.

It is my contention that the same can be said for both employee experience and partner experience.

So, where would I begin?

First, I would focus on the business issues that matter, and for this I would ask three fundamental questions:

  1. Where are we bleeding? - is there a burning platform that needs to be immediately addressed? (perhaps a CX / EX project that is not delivering against expectations, is over budget and / or behind schedule).
  2. Where are we behind? - without focusing on an individual project or technology, is the business falling behind competitors or the market (or behind stakeholder expectations)? Are we missing opportunities or facing big challenges ahead?
  3. Where could we be leading? - does the organisation have a clearly expressed business rationale for experience management, with a vision, predicted outcomes and specific strategies? Have these been developed with an understanding of the realistic capabilities (and limitations) of technologies, processes and people? Do we know what it will take to reach our objective(s) and how we will know we have succeeded?

The 90-day framework

Of course, the following will vary by organisation, but here's my framework to launch an experience management programme in the calendar months:

Month one:

  • Identify and document the organisational purpose and mission - define the organisation's fundamental value proposition, why it exists and what that means to customers, employees and other interested parties.
  • Identify and engage the stakeholders (and possible resources / collaborators) – starting with the organisational leadership, all the way through to the 'shop floor'; ensure that everyone is part of the mix - customers, employees and business partners. For example, schedule 1-to-1 meetings (including working lunches & social occasions) to learn and to influence.
  • Conduct a 'XM readiness assessment' - is the organisation ready, willing and able to commit to the challenge? If the answer is 'no', be prepared to 'pitch' to the stakeholders (especially organisational leadership) about the fundamentals of experience management - especially, the tangible benefits it can bring (and what it will likely take to do well).
  • Identify any prior / ongoing XM strategies, plans or projects and become conversant with their background, objectives and progress. What's working well? what did we learn? where can we improve?
  • Make sure we know and understand the core business processes. Are they documented? (and if they are, does the documentation reflect reality? Is it sufficiently comprehensive?). Identify sources of data and insight, including about the systems, processes and journeys the organisation uses, as well as listening to the 'Voice of the Customer' (VoC) and 'Voice of the Employee' (VoE).
  • Launch the internal communications programme - explain our commitment to delivering the business outcomes the organisation needs and its value to customers, employees and partners.
  • Conduct the first iteration of 'triage' - do we understand the business outcomes that matter and those that can be influenced by an experience management programme? Do we know what short-to-medium-term success will look like and how it will be measured? (we may well have to define the criteria).

Month two:

  • Conduct a formal ‘As Is’ assessment – using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. For example, considering our current systems, processes and people; how these impact experience management and thence business performance; and identify what people (customers and employees) really care about. 
  • Define and publish initial objectives / measures – how we will measure success; ensuring that all the stakeholders know the priorities, the scope and the Terms of Reference for the XM programme.
  • Engage with the wider business and partners – play an active role in key business processes / meetings and accelerate our organisational learning; as soon as possible, start making an active contribution to the wider business.
  • Start to address any 'burning platforms' - if there are areas where the organisation is in trouble, initiate remedial actions that start having a tangible impact quickly. NB: if you start with the burning platform, without seeing the bigger picture, expect to be 'fire fighting' for the rest of your career.
  • Explore possible future (to be) states - translating the organisational vision to one which is aligned to experience management and has more detail / depth. Include looking for the potential ‘quick wins’ and start to shape the medium-term / strategic goals and objectives.
  • Enrol the support of the senior leadership team – schedule regular opportunities to meet with the executive sponsor(s), other members of the leadership team and with peers. Provide ongoing updates and seek feedback and guidance where needed.
  • Create an experience management (XM) community and the shape of the future organisation (as well as alternative operating models) - focus on an inclusive, collaborative culture, starting with a small catalyst group of willing participants.
  • Measure and benchmark what's important – to the business, to customers, to employees and to our partners; show the benefits of the 'after' state, (which implies measuring the 'before' state for comparison and to monitor progress).

Month three:

  • Summarise and present findings to date - building a shared understanding of the current and future states of the business, the rewards that are on offer.
  • Make 'Phase 1' recommendations and set medium-term goals for subsequent work (to be refined during the first phase) - based on estimated costs and a prioritised roadmap and plan.
  • Confirm and detail the business case for a range of experience management projects and initiatives, within a coordinated roadmap that delivers the new capabilities required to secure the business outcomes (the Goals and Objectives).
  • Formally launch the XM programme to the wider community - explaining the need to take the recommended actions. Enlist top leadership in actively and frequently delivering the message about the need for, and commitment to change.

By the end of the first 90 days, we should have:

  • A stakeholder analysis - detailing all the people who impact / are impacted by the experience management programme.
  • Clear priorities that have been validated by the business and form the core of a costed business case, which is then translated into 'project and personal charters' (statement of goals and measures, with a scope and terms of reference).
  • A documented 'as is' assessment and a 'to be' analysis, forming the heart of the gap analysis (itself becoming part of a schedule of requirements).
  • First draft of a roadmap and plans, with good detail for the first phase and a well-defined approach for second and subsequent phases.
  • A preliminary resource plan that aligns to execution plans and individual actions plans.
  • Regular interactions with stakeholders.
  • A set of business and personal KPIs that are being regularly monitored & reported on.

A final thought...

Whilst customer experience and employee experience are not new, a practical methodology for bringing them together (along with partner experience) and that has a quantifiable business impact, is. In my experience, and to echo some of Forrester's commentary, many organisations have worked through their first phase of change and are struggling to identify their next programme of work. 

However, perhaps most importantly of all, those of us in the experience management field need to demonstrate our value to the wider business; only then will we get the executive support and funding required to deliver lasting change.

If you would like to know more about how to launch a comprehensive experience management programme in 90 days, please feel free to contact me (there's no fee).

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