In my last post, you were met with heartfelt congratulations for wanting to step into the exciting world of customer experience management.  It’s certainly the right thing to do, and your pursuit of a transformed customer experience is to be commended. 

Having said that, here now I offer the harsh embrace of reality, testing your commitment as we seemingly throw 'cold water' on the otherwise legitimate rush to transform the customer experience, telling you why, for most...

It’s never going to work.  

Now, don't panic or interpret this position as being somehow an indictment of the CX movement.  Far from it, and in fact the opposite is true, as you'll see. Take this instead as one part drawing a line in the sand, one part shock value, and let's continue...  

Why do I say that for most, CX transformation is never going to work?  To understand, let’s first clarify what it means to ‘transform’.  According to Merriam-Webster, the dictionary definition has three main meanings, the first of which is relevant to our purposes and which itself has three variations: 

  1. to change in composition or structure
  2. to change the outward form or appearance of
  3. to change in character or condition :  convert

Look at this definition a few times. Re-read it, reflect on it...and then read it again.  As you do so, think about the implications of your CX vision…

So, to 'transform' the customer experience we want to do several things, some of which may involve changing the ‘composition or structure’ of the customer experience itself, some of which may also require changing the ‘character or condition’ of the experience.  The nature and scope of the challenge—of the journey many aspire to set their sights on—should now be abundantly clear.  Can YOU really do this?  Do you have the authority to impose your vision for a transformed CX…?  If yes, then kudos and renewed congratulations to you, as you’re on the right path. 

However, for those unable to answer in the affirmative, the reason many may be setting themselves on a path towards disappointment (or even failure) is simple: for whatever reason, no one has helped you honestly assess the true implications and related requirements of a successful CX transformation.  While your efforts will undoubtedly yield fruitful outcomes (improved reporting mechanisms, VOC visibility and customer dialogue), if transformation is the goal then these will likely result in incremental improvements but fall short of truly transforming the customer experience.  Sadly, then, many CX plans will fall short of their goals simply because their plans are replete with blind spots. 

These blind spots are the downfall, the enemies, of successful CX transformation.  What are they, then?  I won't kid you, a plethora of challenges exist, but from our vantage point the primary and central enemies of every CX transformation initiative emanate from two strongholds:

  • (Lack of) Leadership: If you don’t have daily support from the highest levels, your efforts will only go so far; you may achieve some measure of change and progress, but will never achieve true transformation.  True CX transformation requires the CEO’s voice (either directly or indirectly, through a c-suite ‘General’ who speaks with the CEO’s voice, backing and support) to communicate and beat the drum for the company’s new customer-focused direction and related culture shift.

  • Silos: Where you sit within the organization hierarchy matters to your success.  Desire and good intentions will only take you so far…as a result, robust CX transformation can’t be driven by the market research department alone, or the customer experience department, or by operations.  No one group can make it happen in isolation.  Why?  Everyone in the organization impacts the customer experience, be it directly (‘on stage’) or indirectly (‘back stage’).  CX transformation is thus a team effort, requiring an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality--indeed, a culture shift--in order to identify and drive the full range of changes required.  Silos arise as hindrances and obstacles to your ultimate CX vision—bridging them takes assessment, planning, buy-in and ongoing communication to succeed.

That’s it.  So simple, yes, but sadly too often overlooked.  How, then, are they missed? 

Sometimes, it’s the 'Superman complex', we convince ourselves (or allow ourselves to be convinced) into thinking we can do more than is really possible.  Like leaping tall buildings in a single bound or running faster than a speeding bullet, without leadership buy-in and involvement we won’t have the ‘super powers’ (scope of authority, willpower and resources) necessary to achieve true CX transformation

Sometimes it’s the 'thrill of shiny objects'.  When confronted with the promise (and truly amazing capabilities) of the latest VOC reporting platforms, the thrill of seeing what these systems can do and the understandable desire to share these ‘shiny objects’ within your organization can lead some to overlook or downplay the broader needs of true transformation.  While you may have the budget authority to acquire access to these terrific new tools, without leadership buy-in today’s latest technologies won’t help you break through the organizational silos blocking your path to CX transformation. 

To be honest stewards of the customer experience, CX practitioners (research, software or transformation consultants) need to focus less on acquiring the latest tools/making the sale and more on the big picture.  If CX transformation is the end game, then we all need to honestly assess whether the people at the table have the authority, willpower and resources to involve all of the right players required to ultimately affect a truly transformed customer experience.  To achieve a transformed customer experience, then, let’s remember to keep the following six truths in mind:

Transforming the customer experience…

  1. …is a never-ending JOURNEY, one without a fixed destination.
  2. …is a LOT more involved than merely surveying customers.
  3. …requires a culture shift away from a pure cost-focused mentality towards one that’s mostly (if not entirely) customer-focused.
  4. …requires business owners who can act on key insights. 
  5. …requires more than a single metric (whatever it may be).
  6. …requires engaging customers in a two-way dialogue.  

As should now be clear, none of us can do this (transform CX) alone.  It’s my hope that in throwing this ‘cold water’ onto the CX conversation, those caught up in the excitement of the movement (and the rightful imperative to make the customer experience their company’s #1 priority!) won’t begin their journey with blinders on.  With awareness and proper planning, all of these challenges can be worked through, as long as you remember to honestly assess where you stand in the light of day. 

For more in-depth support for your new initiative, contact us any time at, where...We. Know. How.

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