eBook: 10 CX Mistakes to Avoid

BuyDownload3You can purchase the eBook 10 CX Mistakes to Avoid: Advice for improving your customer experience efforts for $8.95. This is a valuable guide for any organization that is undertaking or considering a customer experience (CX) transformation journey.

While good customer experience can build loyalty, not every effort to improve CX leads to success. We’ve worked with dozens of companies on their customer experience journeys and studied hundreds of other organizations. Through this work, we’ve identified 10 common mistakes that companies make along the way.

This eBook is written in simple language so that the lessons can be easily shared with all CX practitioners as well with other leaders across your organization. The goal of the eBook is to help your organization recognize these common mistakes before they become an issue within your company. We also provide detailed steps for avoiding them.

Can you get most of the information from the blog without buying the eBook? Sure, just follow the links below. We created the eBook as a self-contained educational resource on CX best practices. We added a “Forward” that provides context around CX by drawing upon data from The State of CX, 2012 and The ROI of CX.

Hopefully you will find this a valuable eBook to share within your organization, so we’ve created pricing that make it easy to share. You can purchase packages for sharing the eBook with 5, 10, 20, 50, or 100 people, and there’s even a package for sharing with an entire organization of any size.

BuyDownload3Here are the posts about each of the 10 CX mistakes to avoid:

  1. Faking Executive Commitment
  2. Over-Relying on Customer Surveys
  3. Neglecting Experience Design
  4. Treating All Customers the Same
  5. Un-Engaging New Customers
  6. Ignoring Employees
  7. Obsessing About Detractors
  8. Forgetting to Celebrate Success
  9. Falling in Love with a Metric
  10. Mapping Internal Touchpoints

The bottom line: There’s no reason to repeat other people’s mistakes

CX Mistake #1: Faking Executive Commitment

In this series of posts, we examine some of the top mistakes companies make in their customer experience management efforts. This post examines mistake #1: Faking Executive Commitment. It’s very easy for an executive to say that he or she is committed to customer experience, but it takes much more than words to drive sustainable change across an organization.

Without a strong level of executive commitment, companies can exert significant energy towards customer experience only to eventually fail. As a result, organizations revert back to their original behaviors without any sustained customer experience improvements, leaving behind a trail of unfinished efforts and frustrated, disheartened employees.

One of our 6 Laws Of Customer Experience is: You can’t fake it. Employees figure out what’s really important to their leaders and will eventually see through any veneer of commitment. Executives demonstrate their real priorities in their decisions and actions, the priorities they set, the trade-offs they make, and the way that they chose to spend their time.

Most organizations have a strong tendency to resist change. Since improving customer experience often requires changes across an organization, executive commitment is required to overcome the innate inertia.

Leaders, as it turns out, fall into one of five levels of commitment:

  • Opposers don’t believe in customer experience. These executives generally won’t support customer experience efforts no matter what ROI data they see, but can become passives when they see strong support from their peers.
  • Passives don’t really care about customer experience. These executives are willing to become toe-dippers if they see strong support from their peers.
  • Toe-dippers are willing to offer some time and resources for customer experience. These executives will increase their participation and can even become supporters if they see strong business opportunities.
  • Supporters are willing to give their resources to customer experience efforts and encourage their peers to do the same because they inherently understand the business value of these efforts. They use ROI results to strengthen their discussions across the company.
  • Advocates fight any battle to make sure that customer experience efforts are funded. They generally understand the impact that customer experience has to the long-term competitiveness of the company without any project-based ROI data.

How can you gauge the actual commitment of your executive team? We’ve created a checklist of eight signs of executive commitment that help identify the actual commitment of an executive. Advocates demonstrate most of these items.

Here are some tips for avoiding this mistake:

  • Communicate the four CX competencies. It’s easy for companies to think that they can make superficial changes and wind up with great customer experience. But it takes much more effort than that. Customer experience leaders can make sure that their senior execs understand the breadth of efforts required to build a customer-centric culture by explaining the four CX competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness.
  • Always refer to the journey. Customer experience change does not come overnight, so companies need to be prepared to hold their focus for several years. To help maintain this focus, try and frame your current customer experience efforts as part of a longer-term journey.
  • Teach execs how to transform their orgs.Many times I find execs looking for advice on how to drive the charge, so here’s some to share. The leaders that are most effective at leading transformation demonstrate three key characteristics, they: 1) Communicate “why” (making sure their people understand the rationale for change), 2) model the desired behaviors (showing commitment in their actions), and 3) reinforce change (continuously looking for ways to overcome inertia).
  • Locate a committed leader. While it will take the CEO and his/her staff to drive organization-wide change, individual operating units inside of organization can become more customer-centric. Look for a business unit leader who is truly committed and start the customer experience efforts in his/her organization. Success in that group can help to get other executives on board.
  • Make the business case. Some execs may be committed based on their belief that customer experience is a critical component of their organization’s success.But they need to continuously make trade-offs and convince others to focus on customer experience. To help these execs stay on course, it’s very helpful to provide them with compelling business cases and anecdotes about how customer experience is generating positive business results.
  • Appeal to the needs of senior execs.To fully engage senior execs, make sure to find ways to tap into their emotional needs. How do you do this? By focussing on two common areas: Their desire to be loved by customers (share direct negative feedback from customers) and their desire for greatness (paint a picture of how your efforts will help them make the company, and their legacy, great).
  • Match ambition with commitment. If senior execs aren’t true advocates for customer experience, then don’t try and make significant changes. While initiatives may start out okay, they will likely stall when changes are required across multiple internal organizations. It’s important to realize that not every company can or should focus on customer experience transformation.

The bottom line: You just can’t fake real commitment

CX Mistake #2: Over Relying on Customer Surveys

In this series of posts, we examine some of the top mistakes companies make in their customer experience management efforts. This post examines mistake #2: Over Relying on Customer Surveys. While customer insight can be extremely valuable, annual customer satisfaction and other types of surveys that are a mainstay for many companies often deliver little value.

Asking a barrage of multiple-choice questions to customers might have made sense five years ago, but it’s an ineffective use of a key asset, customer feedback. Companies need to abandon a number of outdated assumptions that drive current market research practices:

  • Data and insights provide value. They don’t. What provides value is having people make more customer-insightful decisions and take more customer-insightful actions.
  • Companies have limited access to information about customers. They don’t. There’s a wealth of information available about customers beyond periodic surveys from sources like call center records, interaction data, employee feedback, and social media.
  • There’s no easy way to analyze unstructured data. There is. The primary tools of market research organizations have been multiple choice survey questions. Why? Because that was all they could easily analyze. Text analytics tools are making it easier to mine sentiment, topics, and other key data from the rich vein of unstructured data.
  • Meaningful insights require deep analysis. They don’t. If you don’t understand the business, then you need a lot of data and statistically significant results to draw conclusion. People across the company have context for interpreting and using much less data.

Here are some tips for avoiding this mistake:

  • Scrap your existing surveys. If your customer feedback systems aren’t driving customer-centric decisions and actions across your company, then just stop doing what you’re doing. Divert the time and money to develop a more effective voice of the customer (VoC) program. People will defend the status-quo, arguing the need for comparisons with previous periods, but comparing metrics with historical data is not nearly as valuable as generating actionable insights for future improvements.
  • Build a complete VoC program. Satisfaction and relationship studies tend to be presentation-oriented, periodic events, but strong VoC programs need to be continuous and feed operational processes. Companies need to build VoC programs that encompass what we call the six Ds of closed-loop VoC programs: Detect, Disseminate, Diagnose, Discuss, Design, and Deploy. These efforts often require a customer insight and action (CIA) platform to disseminate the insights.
  • Identify three areas of insights. Asking customers for feedback in a survey can help organizations spot problems, make adjustments on existing processes, and find opportunities to improve their current offerings. But simple surveys are not a good mechanism for uncovering unmet needs to drive new innovations. Also, surveys often ignore non-customers who can fall into several categories such as ex-customers, prospects who are not customers, or segments you’d like to target in the future. That’s why you need to have separate insight strategies for operational feedback, innovation opportunities, and non-customer intelligence.
  • Act like you know something. Stop treating every customer like a stranger when you’re asking for feedback. You should know what they own and what interactions they’ve had, so only ask them relevant questions. Also, you should adjust what you ask based on what they tell you and stop making every customer go through your barrage of the same 50 questions.
  • Ask why and how. It’s interesting to know if a customer is satisfied or likely to recommend you, but that information alone doesn’t help you make improvements. Make sure to ask why they feel that way or how they think you can improve. These types of open-ended questions can provide immense diagnostic information. If you have a large number of clients, then you will likely need to invest in text analytics capabilities.
  • Focus on actions, not questions. When you’re trying to figure out what feedback to collect, don’t start by worrying about the questions you ask. Instead, you need to focus on the actions you plan to take. As companies spend more time helping employees take actions, the insights they need will become clearer.
  • Tap into rich veins of unstructured data. Asking customers for feedback is a valuable mechanism, but there are many additional opportunities for insight. Every call into the call center, online chat with a tech agent, note from a salesman, or observations from front-line employees contains rich insights. And in some cases, social media can be insightful as well.

The bottom line: Market research processes need an overhaul

CX Mistake #3: Neglecting Experience Design

In this series of posts, we examine some of the top mistakes companies make in their customer experience management efforts. This post examines mistake #3: Neglecting Experience Design. Companies focus on the basic requirements of an interaction but ignore the elements of design that can make the difference between customer anger and customer delight.

The lack of good design can be see in this quote by Adam Greenfield, a former head of design direction at Nokia:

The engineers at Nokia brag about the number of megapixels a new phone has. But they don’t understand that if you can’t find the button to use the camera on the phone, it doesn’t matter how many megapixels it is.”

In a recent study, we found that 74% of customer experience professionals think that customer experience design is important or critical for their company, but only 34% think that their firm is good at it.

Why is design deficiency so widespread? Because companies convince themselves that they’re taking care of customers when they painstakingly define and measure themselves against meeting functional requirements. What this left brain centric approach misses is that functional needs represent only one of three components of an experience. Experiences are also made up of three components, so accessible and emotional components are often ignored.

Here are some tips for avoiding this mistake:

  • Identify key moments. Even though most companies can’t replicate the design skills of Apple across everything they do, they still need to apply good design for important interactions. Companies should identify the key moments that influence customers and commit themselves to applying good design principles to those moments.
  • Get design help. Good design is not accidental, it requires the right skills. Recognize your limitations and bring in a design team to help in critical areas if you don’t have those skills on your team.
  • Plan to test and iterate. It’s often impossible to predict exactly how people will respond to a new experience—whether it’s a call center script, website design, or retail display—so you need to allot time and money for making incremental changes on key moments. Make sure to factor this into your budget and schedule.
  • Set accessible and emotional goals. Every key moment should have defined requirements for how easy it is for customers and how those customers feel about it afterwards. Don’t consider the design of the experience complete until you’ve reached those goals, even if you’ve delivered on all of the functional requirements.
  • Find the little things. When Marquis Marriott in NYC spent more than $10 million to change how its elevators operated, consumers were regularly confused. It didn’t need another massive overhaul, just a small investment in signage. That’s why companies should constantly look to apply what I call the Design Of Little Things— the small changes that can dramatically improve the customer experience of much larger investments.

The bottom line: Companies may not appreciate good design, but customers do

CX Mistake #4: Treating All Customers The Same

In this series of posts, we examine some of the top mistakes companies make in their customer experience management efforts. This post examines mistake #4: Treating All Customers The Same. Customers have different needs, interests, and familiarity with offerings, but companies often turn their back on these differences.While it may sound appealing to deliver a great experience to everyone, it’s an impractical goal for most companies.

When a traveller wrote a complaint to Southwest Airlines about how flight attendants were fooling around during the safety briefing and said that she would never fly Southwest Airlines again, Herb Kelleher (founder and then CEO) wrote back a simple note: “We’ll miss you.” What Kelleher understood is that the airline’s value proposition wasn’t for everyone and that it would fail if it tried to cater to everyone.

Here are some tips for avoiding this mistake:

  • Identify key customer segments. The first step is to identify the different customer segments that your company serves. While you may start with demographic breakdowns like age or income, some of the most telling segments come from psychographics. Nike, for instance, may have a strong customer segment called running enthusiasts. Once you have a list of segments, it is critical that you prioritize them. Every CX project should identify a primary segment as the audience.
  • Track needs across the customer lifecycle. Customer segments represent one slice of how to look at customers; the other is lifecycle. Customers have different needs as they flow through different stages of their relationship. You need to understand how each target segment wants to do things like: Research using your products/services, make a purchase, start using your products and services, have ongoing communications with you after becoming a customer, get help when there’s a problem, etc.
  • Walk away from some customers.In order to prioritize some customer segments, you will need to de-prioritize others. It’s critical that you are clear about which segments you are not going to try and serve. If you don’t create that clarity, then people across the organization will continue to push for investments and changes to improve things for those (purposely) underserved customers, taking focus away from your more important customers.
  • Get to know customers, qualitatively. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking customers are the same if you just look at data about them. To truly understand the nuances across your customer segments, it’s critical that you use qualitative techniques like focus groups, contextual inquiries and shadowing. It’s also valuable to have executives regularly interact with customers from key segments.
  • Listen to customers strategically. Voice of the customer “experts” often talk about getting a 360-degree view of all your customers. While that might make sense in an ideal world, the reality is that companies are forced to make trade-offs. It’s expensive to get feedback, both in terms of out-of-pocket expenses and the opportunity cost of having customers answer questions (there’s a limit to how often you can ask customers questions). So you need to be more strategic about where you focus your listening, a process that we call “Detect” (see the 6 Ds For Voice Of The Customer Programs).
  • Design segment-specific experiences.Sometimes your target customer segments will have different enough needs and desires that you’ll want to design different experience paths for them. We often find three areas of difference across segments that can require multiple experience paths: knowledge of the domain, level of willingness to engage in a process, and channel preferences.

The bottom line: Experiences built to meet everyone’s needs often meet meets no one’s

CX Mistake #5: Un-engaging New Customers

In this series of posts, we examine some of the top mistakes companies make in their customer experience management efforts. This post examines mistake #5: Un-engaging New Customers. Companies work very hard to get new customers, but they often ignore them after they write their first check.

There are a lot of issues that keep customers from getting the value they expected from a purchase they made. When these issues occur, customers will often have buyers’ remorse and think poorly of the company that just took their money. In these cases, sales can lead to negative loyalty. This situation occurs because:

  • Silos leave gaps between sales and service. Companies have sales organizations and customer service organizations, but often don’t have any group responsible for making new customers happy before they run into an issue.
  • Metrics overly focus on closing sales. Companies tend to have very mature systems for tracking and measuring sales performance, but few firms have strong customer experience metrics or can effectively make trade-offs between the two.
  • New customers are very impressionable. The people who often know the least about a company are its new customers. They don’t understand the company’s terminology, its operational processes, or recognize its full value proposition. They may have made a purchase, but new customers aren’t necessarily “bought into” the company. Think of it this way: New customers want to love you, but they’re willing to hate you.

Instead of just trying to get money from customers, companies need to focus on making customers happy with their purchases. This requires focusing on a critical, yet neglected part of the customer life-cycle called the Engagement Phase, that we define as:

“The period where customers initially realize their expected value from a purchase”

Here are some tips for engaging new customers:

  • Focus on PoV, not PoS. The Engagement Phase starts with the point of sale (PoS) and ends with the point of value (PoV), which we define as “The point at which customers get the value they were expecting from their purchase and are satisfied with their decision.” Companies need to orient their “finish line” as the PoV and view a sale as one step towards customer value.
  • Establish and track PoV metrics. Companies need to develop metrics that track how often customers are happy with their purchases and how quickly they reach the PoV. This data should be used to drive priorities within the company. Bonuses, for instance, should be based on PoV performance, not just PoS performance.
  • Design the engagement phase. Companies must understand the journey of new customers; identifying their needs and perceptions after they make a purchase. Using this insight, companies should design experiences that ensure new customers get value from and are happy with their new purchase.
  • Define engagement ownership. The engagement phase can’t be an orphan within companies. A group or an executive must have clear responsibility for this critical period.

The bottom line: Customers that don’t get value, aren’t going to be valuable customers

CX Mistake #6: Ignoring Employees

In this series of posts, we examine some of the top mistakes companies make in their customer experience management efforts. This post examines mistake #6: Ignoring Employees. Not surprisingly, customer experience programs focus on customers. But they often don’t spend enough time cultivating one of their most important CX assets: Employees.

One of our 6 Laws Of Customer Experience is: Unengaged employees can’t create engaged customers. You can’t sustain great customer experience unless your employees are on board. For many companies, the path to great customer experience not only needs to include employees, it needs to start with them. Why? Because there’s a virtuous cycle that comes from engaging employees:

Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest, does a great job of clarifying why he built employee engagement into the fabric of the airline:

“If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.”

Unfortunately, employee engagement is lower than it should be at many companies because:

  • Employee engagement isn’t in the plans. Customer experience efforts focus on fixing customer interactions and processes, but they often don’t address the ongoing engagement of employees that isn’t tied to a specific process or interaction.
  • Cultural change isn’t easy. Without a specific plan to improve employee engagement, it’s not likely to get better. Changing a company’s culture requires clear and persistent effort.

Here are some tips for avoiding this mistake:

  • Tap into employees’ customer insights. Front line employees know a lot about customers; they interact with customers all the time. All too often, companies don’t use this key insight. Develop a program where you regularly collect feedback from customer-facing employees about what they’re seeing: problems, opportunities, and general observations. If employees see that their insights are being used and valued, then they will feel more engaged with the company.
  • Spread customer feedback. The more that employees understand customers, the more they will feel connected to delivering great customer experience. That’s why companies should find ways to deliver relevant customer feedback widely across their organization.
  • Measure employee engagement. If you want employee engagement, set goals for it and measure it. Many companies have annual or semi-annual employee surveys, but they don’t systematically act upon it. Companies should establish some clear metrics around customer engagement, maybe using a simple Net Promoter-like question: How likely are you to recommend <COMPANY> to a friend or colleague as a good place to work?
  • Design for employee engagement. Companies need an explicit track of effort around employee engagement and communications within their customer experience efforts. Another of our 6 Laws Of Customer Experience is: employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated. So companies need to purposefully design the measurements, incentives, and celebrations that reinforce employee engagement.
  • Stop relying on heroes. When individual employees decide to ignore policies and procedure to deliver a great customer experience, it often makes a great story. But these heroic efforts don’t scale; they can’t be depended upon and they tend to burn out your people. Companies need to invest in their people, developing the processes, rules, tools, and training that make it easy for employees to consistently deliver a great experience.

The bottom line: Employees can make or break any CX effort

%d bloggers like this: