• Neal Dlin

7 - 2018 New Year's Customer Experience (CX) Resolutions for CEOs (and everyone really).



We often think of New Year’s resolutions as things we want to change in our personal lives. But what if a company was making New Year’s resolutions aimed at improving the customer experience? It’s not news that CX is fast becoming the last differentiator and key to growth in an increasingly customer driven world. Why not start the year making some important resolutions to boost your companies CX prowess? 


So, for CEO's anyone working to improve customer experience, the following list are 7 such resolutions that can help launch OR transform your organization’s CX competency. While each of these can help individually, doing them all well will have a compounding effect. I have always found it interesting that in my over 20 years in this space, I have rarely come across companies hitting these all out off the park but the few that do, are typically leading their industries.   


1. Ownership. This is too important not to come from the CEO.

"I will not delegate out the sponsorship of Customer Experience in my company". For a true shift to occur, CEO's need to roll up their sleeves and lead the charge. They need to stay connected, which can be challenging if they are not a key sponsor. We already know the stakes as so many studies show it will be the key differentiator for companies who wish to survive. The Walker study, for example, found that by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. In 2018, CEO's should commit to leading this charge.


2. PurposeJust give me a reason!

CX is important but is knowing that enough? In 2018, organizations need to have and understand their purpose. Having great CX is an enabler to a purpose but not a purpose itself. This is critical as “the overwhelming evidence is that companies with a declared purpose — a clear role in the world that offers them a reason for being — perform better on important metrics over time than their less-purposeful peers.” – Financial Times

Not to mention that according to a 2014 Gallup study, more than 70% of Millennials expect their employers to focus on societal or mission-driven problems. Once you have a purpose, you can hire those who believe, and make believers of those you have hired. Your CX decisions will have a filter giving needed focus to deliver on your purpose allowing conversations to be more guided, debate to be more efficient, and your people more enthusiastic. 


3.    Employee Journey. People are powerful. Show ‘em some love.

Technology investments will not get you there if you don’t have the people to make it happen. Additionally, simply paying for top talent will not help to retain them, nor inspire them to do their best work. If you are going to succeed at creating incredible CX, you need to succeed at creating incredible EX (Employee Experience). Deloitte’s research suggests that the issues of “retention and engagement have risen to No. 2 in the minds of business leaders” and the Temkin Group found a strong correlation between employee engagement and Customer Satisfaction in their 2016 Employee Engagement Study. In 2018, commit to building out your Employee Journey with as much focus as you do your Customer Journey, including ongoing measurement of each key touchpoint and a commitment to continuous improvement. 


4.    Skin in the game. This can’t be a hobby. 

Don't let CX just be a pet project or soft focus which can happen when it’s not given meaningful weighting in the organizations goals.  Moving the needle on Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Effort Score (CES) should be the heaviest weighted component of employee’s variable pay at all levels. Things happen when people have real skin in the game and according to Forrester Research, only 31 per cent of organizations recognize and reward employees across the company for improving the customer experience. 


5.    Data - Don't just collect. Analyze and test.

Gut instinct alone will fall short. While it's true that each employee is a consumer too that may have strong convictions based on their own experiences, it's important to remember that they don’t represent all customers. Gut instincts are important but personal preferences cannot be the way in which CX design is carried out. For example, just because a specific executive or UX leader hates when a chat window covers part of the webpage, doesn’t mean the majority of others do. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. You need to balance data informed decisions. But data on its own isn’t the solution. Research shows 80 per cent of data is “dark and untouched,” both due to a lack of analytical power (you need to hire people and technology to learn from your data) and a lack of focus (collecting data without knowing what you are trying to learn). With current tech, it's never been easier to deploy small tests. In 2018, commit to testing and data gathering in a purposeful way to guide your CX decision making. 


6.    Governance. Doesn't sound fun but neither is running in circles. 

An enabler that goes hand in hand with data and testing, CX can no longer operate like the Wild Wild West. Journeys need mapping, data needs gathering at each point of the journey, prioritization needs to be intelligent. Resources need to be used optimally. It’s not enough for the CEO to sponsor CX and not enough to have amazing people. Without good governance, quite often, amazing people will work incredibly hard at each and every CX pain point they uncover. While this can have some positive impact on customer satisfaction, it may be missing the biggest opportunities and can be drain on your best resources. Governance, along with data will create an organized effort to best leverage the passions of your people towards your purpose. And of course, with the C-Suite still fully connected as described by McKinsey in their article about Leading and governing the customer-centric organization. In 2018, establish or review your CX governance and ensure it's integrated throughout your eco-system. 


7.    Foundations. Stop building on an old house of cards. 


Larger companies can fall victim to legacy systems, processes, policies and structures. Customer expectations are increasing faster than many companies can adapt, often set by nimble digital startups and industry disruptors (which Forbes calls “The Amazon Effect”). It can be attractive both financially and from a change management perspective, to try and iterate these to fit this new world of customers expecting near perfection in their interactions. However, trying to build on a house of cards can quite often put you in a worse position. Delays from custom integrations, heavy coding and manual workarounds cost more than expected and in the end, fall too short of customer expectations. In 2018, critically assess these legacy systems abilities to continue on your CX journey. As needed, make well measured investments in new technologies, new organizational structures, new employee journey policies and new or renewed purpose in order to not only survive, but thrive.  


So, will you adopt these resolutions? What others will you adopt? How you will ensure your organization can lead through the rising tide of customer expectations?

Happy New Year and please share any other resolutions you think are critical to CX in the comments.  

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