CX was never about just fighting fires


Samantha Conyers discusses the challenges that professionals can still face when trying to elevate CX to a strategic level within organisations. 

6th Dec 2022

Great experiences don't just happen and they certainly don't happen easily...

I've been in this field for over 10 years, and it changes, daily. Anyone who says it is easy to grasp the concept or jump into CX isn't actually doing CX... Customer experience is not for the faint of heart or the sensitive. You have to be able to juggle tasks and relationships, subjective and factual and you have to be prepared to have tough conversations even when you are not invited to them...

I operated and thrived in the energy of downstream or 'Firefighter' positions for most of my career. However, I quickly learnt to force myself into operational meetings if I wanted to play a more strategic role, identifying and addressing root-cause, and ultimately designing experiences with the customer AND the business in mind. It was a running joke in my last corporate job that my colleagues would hide to have meetings without me when they needed to make a quick (and non-customer-centric) decision. They would also hide when our call centre became inundated and NPS inevitably crashed and I would come to meetings (still not invited) with manual calculations of the cost to the business, both from a sentiment and a dollars and cents perspective...

To design and deliver experiences that you are also responsible for measuring, managing and critiquing is a rollercoaster. CX practitioners (good ones) are expected to listen to and understand customers, know what they really want and design experiences around insights while being innovative. But you're still not done, arguably the toughest part of the job is getting buy-in and alignment from leadership AND frontline staff to bring your strategy to life. You must have a strategy and it must be aligned to your business strategy and supported by KPIs.  

In a recent survey conducted by exco, we asked CX leaders in the Caribbean about their biggest challenges; 41% stated it was a lack of CX strategy and 27% had no dedicated resources for CX initiatives. Across the globe, in a 2021 State of Customer Experience exercise conducted by Genesys, findings showed that "CX is at the top of the table, with 58% of respondents having CX report directly to the board or CEO with strategies taking shape through initiatives to use data for building deeper customer insights and greater personalisation..."

A lack of strategy coupled with little to no dedicated resources is the perfect recipe for firefighting. CX becomes everything and nothing at the same time.   

When you think about the best experiences you've had as a customer or user, you can assume, pretty safely, that they were well thought out and part of a bigger picture. Some of us may have experienced the impact of these CX strategies firsthand with the Amazons and Apples of the world. And if you're lucky, right here in the Caribbean at Sandals. These businesses and many others have vocalised AND demonstrated the value of a CX strategy as their KEY differentiator.   

It's really not uncommon to hear businesses talk about being customer-centric; it’s far less common for them to achieve this or even truly know what it means. The optimist in me believes most of them mean what they say, but, it’s simply been too hard to understand, define and operationalise customer experience.

It starts with strategy and alignment. CX was never about resolving issues, fighting fires or designing good surveys, despite what many were led to believe... True CX efforts require a significant shift in thinking and practice but, when done right, they can offer a leap forward in competitive performance. Customers are demanding more, and customer experience leaders have an increasing list of skills they need to incorporate to not only meet these rising demands but to navigate the way for the business.


customer experience

As a CX professional - practitioner, strategist and now consultant - my method has ALWAYS been the same. Start with aligning on what CX (and the responsibilities that come with it) means; to you, your people and the business. The slide borrowed from a recent presentation by Matt Watkinson shows how some people view the world of CX, as the customer's total perception of value, as everything....

For me, CX absolutely impacts everything. However, I can tell you first hand - without a strategy and alignment on what CX means supported by who, what and how it is brought to life will result in a lot of firefighting and burn(out)... As Matt went on to say: "CX and related initiatives should look horizontally to marry everything up."

Do you have a CX strategy?

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Peter Dorrington
By Peter Dorrington
08th Dec 2022 12:46

Brilliant article Sam!

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