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IN B2B CX, LOOK BEYOND MEASURABLE EFFICIENCY

Are you struggling to measure CX? This article may be the perfect piece at the perfect time for you.

There are still too many companies conflating efficiency with CX. Efficiency is an objective characteristic. It’s about how well you’ve controlled or prevented operational failures from happening. It’s merely an indicator of how well you’ve assigned resources. It’s table stakes. It’s not equal to customer experience. You may be saying, “wait, that right there is a false equivalency. No one is saying efficiency is customer experience.” To that, we’d say, “you sure about that?”  

I am here to tell you that you would be surprised at how many B2B companies conflate efficiency with customer experience. We’ve run into this mentality dozens, if not hundreds of times in our consulting. To which, we respond, “people do experience your efficiency when it’s absent, not present.” Yes, it can be argued that efficiency is an aspect of an overall experience. But so are nitrogen, oxygen and carbon in the way mammals self-perpetuate, but are rarely, if ever noticed—typically only when they’re absent.

Efficiency is the Wrong CX Metric

People don’t do business with you and say, “Damn, I cannot believe my password worked, or I cannot believe how well they made sure their parking lot was parkable or did you see how well my phone call got answered, or hey, check-out how accurate my contractor’s math is on this invoice.” It’s the absence of efficiency that gets noticed. To that end, you should think of efficiency as a critical enabler of experience. It’s hygiene, transactional table stakes or what we call the forgettable realm of experience. It won’t register in the long-term memory as an experience asset unless you aren’t caring for the lowest level aspects of experience—which most are doing quite well. It will show up as an experience liability if you don’t ensure all table stakes of the experience are well managed. The point here is, don’t contain your CX efforts to efficiency gains and call it a day.

So why do so many companies focus so much on efficiency as their proxy for customer experience? Because it’s impeccably measurable. For a dozen decades, we’ve done one thing better than anything else in business—we’ve measured the life out of the lowest level aspects of experience because we could. The adage, ‘you cannot manage what you do not measure’ or ‘what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed’ are the cocaine in the cola. We just haven’t removed it yet because there isn’t currently consensus on the harmful effects of it. In another few decades, we’ll look back and say, “can you even believe we used to only measure efficiency in CX?” And we’ll do it with the same disbelief we do today when we jokingly harken back to the days when Coca-Cola was loaded with it’s peppy namesake powder.

How it Will Get Worse

You know what will compound this problem more than anything else? IoT. The Internet of Things. As sensors talk to sensors and digitally negotiate with measurement devices and send that data back to other sensors so that people can look at dashboards and see that there are a percentage fewer anomalies than there were over the last period that was measured, guess what we’ll be measuring? Whatever we can measure. Will it impact the customer’s experience? Not likely as much as we would prefer. Will that deter us? Not likely as much as we would prefer.    

So why is this a problem in business? Because at the core, the CX discipline is at a crossroads. As software is still eating the world, and CX is emerging as a really hot and new consulting opportunity, there is a convergence occurring that we feel is flying right over the spirit of CX.  

For many B2B companies new to CX, they are merely covering what their software can measure, that which they feel contributes greatest to the ROI of CX. In doing so, they are losing ground. Or I should say, the bulk of businesses are losing ground, while a handful of outsiders who refuse to contain their CX exclusively to that which can be measured, are absolutely killing their competition.

How? Those businesses that are gaining share in their markets are looking at CX the way it should be looked at. As more of a subjective art and science, and less as a commoditized race to zero-defects.

What is CX?

CX’s whole point is to go beyond objective hygiene, to assail the commodity or table stakes mindset in business. It is to zero in on your customer’s mindset and process, not your own. It is to build your offering around what your customer’s mindset interprets as better, more memorable, more exciting, more interesting, more valuable, and more desirable. Notice, this has nothing to do with the measurable realm of zero defects. The real, indelible spirit of CX is to bend your operations and decision-making so that your whole organization can see as your customer sees and begin creating experiences they can brag about on your behalf—experiences that feel more personal and memorable to them and reflect the best version of themselves as a result of the value you are able to provide them.   

CX Mindset for B2B

How do B2B businesses do this? At the risk of sounding snarky, we like to say, change your B2B mindset to an H2H (human to human) mindset. To achieve this, we counsel our clients to look at three things:

  1. Focus on the organizational mindset. Is it capable of seeing as your customer really sees? Can it organize to feel what your customer really feels? Does it know how big the gaps are between expectation and real, true, lived experience? If not, start there.
  2. Don’t over-index on the measurable. Is your organization over-indexed on objective, ROI-obsessed measures? If so, you have to consider relaxing a few of them and accept the fact that real CX—CX that actually yields real returns is mostly subjective. Think about this for a minute. CX is about humans looking at, thinking about, and listening to other humans so that another group of humans can make sure another group of humans is making all the other humans happier. What in that scenario is objectively measurable to the extent we can assign go-no-go funding on a binary basis? We’re yet to see a perfect correlation between ROI on CX and improved overall relationship quality with customers.  Make sure your pursuit of ROI isn’t achieved at the expense of your customer’s real, lived experience with your brand. Also, consider this—by seeking to control your customer’s experience, you’re actually degrading it. You cannot control it by measuring. You can only control aspects of what may be experienced. Your customer controls their experience, you’re only making decisions about what you want to contribute to it.  
  3. Focus on the unit of measurement that matters most—drive. What drives your customer to want to do business with you and brag about it to their friends and peers? Hint: for the customers that ultimately matter most to you, it’s never going to be operational efficiency. It will be the left field ideas and things that your competition isn’t able to measure yet drives your customer to talk about incessantly.   

If you suspect you may be focused too much on efficiency or all the stuff that you are able to measure more readily, the time may be right to rethink your company’s CX. If you would like to use our Zen approach for executives to begin rethinking CX, we encourage you to do so.

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