CX adrenaline

Adrenaline for Sluggish CX Programs

Often times, the first step defines whether the approach will succeed. For stalled CX efforts, hitting reset on your approach can be the smartest move—or the adrenaline shot required to reboot your program.

Over the past three years, CX Pilots has interviewed over 120 people responsible for running their company’s customer experience or success initiatives.

From all those conversations, two things have become crystal clear.

First, virtually everyone we talked to alluded to the fact that they were never 100% sure what they were doing and were never 100% certain that their priority list had all the right things on it, let alone in the right order.

Second, on top of not having a higher degree of certainty on priorities or approach, they all had defined objectives but claimed a number of insurmountable obstacles standing in their way.

The top 10 obstacles:

  1. a VP, Director or team with contravening agendas (CX initiative ownership)
  2. organization’s apprehension toward change
  3. the CX initiative was ‘packaged’ wrong from the onset
  4. an unrealized platform/technology investment
  5. resource funding
  6. available teams to own next steps
  7. lack of measurement
  8. apathetic cultures
  9. lack of (or poorly articulated) proof of value
  10. the customer experience initiative lacks high-level visibility

In all cases, these obstacles tend to stop most well-intentioned leaders in their tracks—some for months, others, indefinitely.

Our Hypothesis

We believe that the first point (uncertainty in approach) causes the second issue (insurmountable obstacles).

Or put another way, successfully achieving the right goals, in the right order with the right cadence in the shortest amount of time is really, really difficult without the right planned approach. Alternatively, with the right planned approach, effectively shared out to the organization, obstacles have a way of dissipating.

CX Pilots’ mission is to help every company be the best version of themselves through intentional customer-centricity. When we’re engaged to help a CX leader move their CX program out of a rut, our mission kicks into a higher gear. We believe every company can benefit from more strategic customer-centricity. If you read our guiding principles, you’ll see why.

The most powerful tool in our toolbox, as surprising as it may seem, is actually the simplest. It’s how we engage new clients with our approach.

Imagine a 500-person company with revenues somewhere approaching $1 billion, 4 offices on two continents and one person ultimately accountable for the success of the company’s customer experience/success program. That one, accountable person likely has 25-50 projects she wants to accomplish within the year contributing to the company’s CX goals (e.g.: 25% reduction in customer churn).

However, she cannot seem to gain alignment between the IT team’s CX platform (Qualtrics or Maritz CX) roll-out, the marketing team’s content strategy and the corporate communications team’s employee engagement initiatives—let alone all the things she’s prioritized for the rest of the year. From the top, it appears there are too many wires being crossed, no clear or tangible value being created, and things aren’t in control or getting done. This spells danger for everyone involved yet is a situation that can be course-corrected within a few weeks. We’ve done this several times.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem? It’s the approach. It’s how people position CX inside their companies and further, how they position the steps needed to build momentum. It really is that simple—conceptually.

Pragmatically, the way we help people move their CX programs up and forward is to introduce an approach framework capable of adapting to every initiative and company. This approach helps anyone take any CX initiative, no matter what stage it’s in—and reconfigures the approach to kick-start the program into a higher gear.

Every customer experience leader we’ve ever talked to knows what they want to accomplish—they even have a plan in place and in many cases a program that’s actively monitoring the voice of the customer. But for one reason or another, they aren’t gaining the traction they know they should be. And they operate under the impression that the executives’ patience may be running thin.

The framework that works

Enter the CX Approach Framework. It is a simple way to categorize the work of customer experience management inside the organization. This CX Approach Framework helps CX leaders quickly determine the nature of their needs to accelerate CX. It is broken into four categories.

Checklist – basic blocking and tackling. The goals, objectives and strategy are set yet there is uncertainty about sequence, cadence and momentum along with a lack of resources to accomplish all the tasks on a current priority list.

Question – these projects require validation and help selecting from a range of available options to increase certainty in approach. These programs have more questions than answers.

Challenge – these projects are open-ended and mired in more complexity. They require solutions and impact comparison and often need outside and objective validation or mediation to move forward.

Strategy – these are the most complex projects and occur as a result of having set unachievable objectives or trajectories. In many cases, these projects haven’t been adequately communicated.

When CX leaders are struggling to accelerate the impact of their customer experience initiatives, no matter their perception of the reasons, they should look first at their current approach to it and take stock in what lies between their current roster of activities and their objectives.

Just by asking oneself, “Are our CX program problems checklist issues, questions we have, isolated challenges or core strategic issues that are preventing our desired forward progress?” you’ve taken the first step. By understanding more about the nature of the issues in your approach, you have more information to address them.

As an added bonus, the CX Pilots’ Approach Framework also reveals some of the most common tasks and/or tactical projects we recommend most often to CX leaders who are tackling problems at each level. We recommend you examine the range of projects in each of the four categories below and ask yourself if you’re encountering issues related to each.

Checklist projects are often the most accessible and addressable. They arise most commonly from larger organizations in more advanced stages of their organization’s CX maturity.

Two of the most common Checklist projects are: 1) CX maturity assessments that help the organization know precisely where their CX program stands today relative to where they want it to be in the future, and 2) the consolidation of fragmented or disjointed CX efforts in different departments.

Question projects arise when CX leaders question whether their current roster of projects are prioritized appropriately and whether they’re seeking the right types of solutions. These projects typically occur when there are more questions than answers and where certainty in approach is a significant stalling force.

Two of the most common Question projects are: 1) generating the right incoming data to produce actionable insights, and 2) developing comprehensive CX program roadmaps that inform and enthuse cultures about their potential roles in CX.

Challenge projects occur when there are larger adjacent issues preventing you from moving forward with your roster of priorities.

Two of the most common Challenge projects are: 1) accountable team structures with the right capabilities and skill sets to accomplish the right tasks, and 2) embedding CX into cultures with the right communications strategies.

CX Strategy projects

Strategy projects are complex and generally show up either in larger organizations with new CX initiatives or smaller organizations with fewer resources. As the name implies, these projects are generally strategic in nature and require foundational work.

Two of the most common Strategy projects are: 1) creating or revisiting the organization’s customer experience strategy, and 2) redefining the internal processes to enable people and teams to focus on new ways to add more value to customer interactions.

What’s it going to take?

It takes more than approach to make CX successful in any organization. It takes a smart and pragmatic strategy, commitment from the top, consistent investment and a disciplined focus on adaptive processes and technologies. However, we can tell you with confidence, that if you’re experiencing stagnation in your CX program, your approach is the very first place you should look. Hopefully the Approach Framework we use to resuscitate CX programs will help you.

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