One of the first reason people give, to explain the difficulty of customer change implementation, is lack of leadership support. This causes a debate in customer experience management communities about the need, some say the rise, of the Chief Customer Officer. Personally, I always thought that was the role of the Chief Marketing Officer of an organization, but apparently they, as a group, do not live up to that expectation – i.e. focus on priorities other than making their companies more customer centric.
In my experience, the addition of another title, without P&L accountability, has never magically created the leadership presence the CX communities are yearning for. In most instances the CxO’s political power directly relates to their proximity to revenue generation (in fast growing companies) or spending control (in the rest).
I am not an expert in leadership theories, but I would like to suggest that if you really want to see a change in the way your organization relates to its customers, you would have to take the risk of doing what needs to be done to enable such change. Here are a few challenges to consider:
Common knowledge is often a myth
It is a common misconception within executive ranks and their subordinates that the Customer Service organization is responsible for Customer Experience. If you are reading this article I assume you know better. If you need convincing, read this before you go further. The best way to debunk this convenient myth is to use evidence in the form of data that comes directly from customers’ mouths.
Holistic experience is the synthesis of many attributes
The use of aggregate and derivative metrics will not be very effective if people, who need to change their thinking, cannot see the connection between their actions and the effect of these actions on customer experience. Brandeis offers the guiding principle:
“If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.”
You have to isolate and link specific and measurable attributes of your customers’ experience with operational and financial metrics of an appropriate department and/or process within your company, or your channel, to expose cause and effect.
Linkage adoption is the most critical condition for actionability
In the Customer Experience business we often are not dealing with facts, but with evidence-based opinions. Using the survey method – the best for validating a hypothesis – as a primary source of evidence will inevitably taint these opinions with the bias of the survey designer. The best practice for overcoming the bias and representation arguments is to provide multiple sources of evidence that point to the formation of a coherent opinion. That will not eliminate argumentation, but will make it much more constructive. A fact is often nothing more than commonly accepted opinion, supported by commonly believed evidence. Therefore, it is paramount to socialize proposed linkages very extensively, to gain acceptance of the concept and subsequent adoption, before publication of any measurements.
Measure and benchmark a change.
People are motivated to act to catch up to a leader or to maintain the leadership position. When people accept your metrics, they surely are inspired to do the right thing, particularly if they can see that their actions produce desirable and measurable results.
“Static” measurements do not motivate action nearly as much as measuring how CX, and linked operational metrics, have improved since the change in a process was implemented. These are particularly effective if there is relative competitive information available for comparison. Example – a company we have worked with measured a social reputation of their consumer product a quarter after its launch. It was lower than expected and about 6% below the average reputation of products in its segment. Detailed CX analysis discovered that some customers figured out how to program the product to control home appliances (not intended use). Marketing was very hesitant about doing anything about the finding, but eventually decided to publish instructions for programming and communicated them in Social Media. The quarter after, the NPS jumped 22% and the product took a lead in the segment. That change alone was attributed to 17% increase in the sale through rate.
The suggestions above are obviously not a comprehensive guide to organizational change management of customer experience, but they are focused entirely on what CEM professionals can do to provide operational leadership in spirit of the words of Mahatma Gandi