Confessions of a CX consultant: 10 customer experience lessons from 2022by
After spending the last 12 months providing CX consultancy to a number of Australian-based businesses, Will Kingston reflects on his experiences and the key CX lessons he picked up along the way.
Earlier this year I returned home from overseas. I didn't know what I wanted to do next. So, I did what so many lost corporate souls have done before me. I consulted. It's been the most rewarding 12 months of my career. I've worked with several Aussie businesses to help them improve their customer experience.
Here's 10 things I've learnt (or relearnt) about CX over the course of the year.
1. The Marketing team shouldn’t own CX… at least by default
CMOs have hoodwinked naive CEOs into thinking CX is a marketing capability, for no other reasons then they already gather customer insights and they waste a lot of time pontificating about purpose.
CX management requires x-functional coordination and operational & tech transformation. Frankly these aren’t skills most Marketing teams have in abundance. CX should be its own function, with its own leader sitting on the ExCo.
2. Customer surveys are prehistoric – ditch them
This year, NASA blew up an asteroid, scientists grew brain cells in a lab that have learnt to play video games (google it), and Domino’s delivered me a pizza in under eight minutes. And yet, we still rely on customers giving us an arbitrary score out of 10 to understand CX performance.
Instead, invest in a platform that can synthesise real-time data from a range of channels and use it to understand what customers are doing, not what they are saying.
3. Most executives don’t know the most fundamental law of growth (it’s not ABC)
If you’re a CEO, ask your CMO and head of sales if they know what the ‘double jeopardy law’ is. If they don’t, sack them. The double jeopardy law states that brands with less market share have far fewer buyers and these buyers are slightly less loyal.
In practice, this means that small companies can’t outperform big companies on customer retention (with limited exceptions). Focus on customer acquisition … and read ‘How Brands Grow’ by Byron Sharp.
4. The biggest constraint on improving CX is your org chart
Large organisations struggle to make changes to CX (or anything for that matter). It’s not for lack of effort. It’s because they’ve grown in a way that makes large-scale cooperation impossible. Resources are controlled by product-aligned fiefdoms that don’t consider the E2E customer journey.
At a certain point, this becomes too hard to change (ask ANZ). Founders should structure their teams around journey stages from day one, to save a lot on consultants in five years time.
5. A customer journey is a framework, not an artwork
Most companies know they must understand their customers’ journeys. Many are mapping them. Some are making them look pretty and plastering them up around the office. Few are using them. Journeys should be embedded in the day-to-day operations of a business.
Next year, don’t stop at journey mapping. Use them as a tool to, among other things, measure performance, reorganise teams and prioritise initiatives.
6. Customer operations is a ticking time bomb for fast-growing start-ups
Almost every fast-growing B2C start-up makes the same mistake. It starts when they stand up an ‘MVP’ customer ops function with a cheap customer support platform, undocumented processes, and no discernible team structure.
Inevitably, when customer growth outpaces their ability to iterate the customer ops MVP, the function crashes. Get the basic operating model right early to avoid pain later. Take it from someone who learnt the hard way.
7. You can and must model the ROI of CX initiatives
“This CX stuff sounds lovely, but I can’t see the ROI. Sorry mate”. I’ve heard this many times in my career. I’ve heard it less this year, because I’m better at building business cases that show the return on experience initiatives. The secret? Don’t be afraid to make assumptions and stand behind them.
Loose assumptions have been good enough to lockdown cities and increase your power bills of late. I’m sure they are good enough to justify CX transformation.
8. A behavioural economist is the best ‘bang for your buck’ hire you haven’t made
Most CX leaders don’t have the luxury of a big team. This is frustrating because the capabilities needed to drive CX change are numerous. Most CX functions have a mix of strategy, digital and design experts. Not many have a behavioural economist. They should. A behavioural economist is great value.
They deeply understand the irrational ways of customers. Plus, their projects are normally cheap, easy to measure and (for want of a better term) super cool.
9. CX experts need to be partnerships experts
I recently read an article titled ‘CX Specialists In Banks Need To Find A New Job’. I didn’t go to the welfare office; in fact I agreed with it. CX experts need to think less about iterative experience improvements and more about facilitating ecosystems.
Don’t just be the person that improves the app. Be the person that shifts the bank from providing mortgages to helping people move home, by coordinating a range of third parties around an E2E journey.
10. The role of the CX professional is still woefully undefined
Almost every CEO will tell you that CX is one of their top priorities. And yet, most of them don’t hire many CX specialists. And when they do, they don’t know how to use them. Go on LinkedIn and search for CX jobs. Each JD will give you a dramatically different list of required skills.
CX is behind areas like operations and finance, that have a consistent taxonomy of skills for professionals. Until we all broadly ‘speak the same language’, emerging CX professionals will find it harder to learn & grow.