17 May Making a Case for ‘Sobriety’ in Customer Experience Assessments
There are a lot of important things to figure out before any company decides to either improve the way they approach CX Management today or to start a new CX program from scratch. And those things all start and center around trying to figure out how to approach CX Management from the internal operational perspective. But the best intentions sometimes fail because CX is operated within too narrow an internal cohort which is why most CX programs stall out, run out of fuel and eventually crash.
A Little Bit of Candor
The best programs start with an honest evaluation of where the organization is today, its cultural footprint, the engagement level of the employees, the type of leadership politics that are at play and whether the current processes in place are contributing or detracting from the organization’s full CX potential. Notice the deliberate lack of technology and platform-related concerns at this level of the assessment.
Assessments Need to Go Beyond Awareness
We all relate to the potential of creating smarter customer experience assessments but how does one actually do this? We believe creating smarter, more culturally-aware assessments are really key to stacking the odds in favor of success. We believe that the problem with current assessments is that they’re generically formulated and generically applied to all companies—uniformly, and they spend too much time evaluating too few aspects of CX that aren’t actually important. Most assessments can’t do anything for an organization beyond generic awareness—which isn’t anywhere near good enough for most of the people that need to run successful Customer Experience programs.
The problems continue. I’m hearing that it’s not enough for an assessment, no matter how well it does its job, to merely indicate what the current status is, generically. They have to go a few steps beyond that. Those few steps beyond awareness of current state are what we’re trying to accomplish with CX pilots Flight Check, our custom-designed, company-specific, CX maturity assessment suite.
The things were trying to accomplish with the CX Pilots Flight Check suite are to have an assessment that gives us a full picture of where things stand today while also canvasing a broader population of decision-makers and frontline “doers” to get a more complete picture of where things are while removing biases so that the broader group of people have a much better idea of what needs to be done.
This is critical because once we have a more unbiased and objective idea of current state and we know it in much greater detail, only then can the real, next level of work begin.
That next level of work is centered around isolating key elements of change and prioritizing the order based on criticality of things that needs to happen first and then finding the best way to begin circling the wagons around those components.
It’s Time for Innovation
This is the point at which CX Pilots innovated. We imagined what it would take to get a better picture of current state while simultaneously baking in the work of persuading the decision-makers (with funding power) to understand the importance of customer experience and the real financial impact it can have. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if an assessment could do all of this at once? Turns out, it can!
What’s different about the CX Pilots Flight Check is that it’s built on the cornerstone of deepening awareness of the criticality of customer experience at the right levels. It shows the economic benefits of doing this that are tied directly to business outcomes so the people who have the funding power and the decision-making opportunities at the right levels, get to see, firsthand, the impact that focusing on priority components of CX has on the organization and its customers. All inside of a better assessment.
We start the CX Pilots Flight Check with something we call a Sobriety Test. The Sobriety Test is an indicator of the organization’s willingness and ability to take customer experience seriously and prioritize it in ways that haven’t really been done before.
In the CX Pilots Flight Check, the Sobriety Test is the first in a suite of custom assessments and what we’d argue is the most important step.
CX Pilots Flight Check: The Sobriety Test
The Sobriety Test begins by looking at a company’s vision and mission. We want to know the extent to which the vision and mission actually point to the customer imperative. It also does of priorities check evaluating how well the are the organizations priorities set in such a way that effective customer experience work be done but also looks at leadership support. Is the leadership situated and invested in ways that it needs to be?
We focus the Sobriety check a lot around what we call “total current culture.” Does the current culture embody a collective mindset capable of an axis shift to begin placing priority on those components of CX they can have the greatest business outcome? Is it all connected so that employee engagement is in place? Does the org have the propensity to further engage employees in the work necessary to make CX of vital and thriving component of business success?
We also look at the ability to govern CX. Is the organization able to create standards and governance that can be followed—that sustain the work that CX management needs to accomplish. Are factors of optimism and pragmatism present? These mindsets help determine whether or not all of the necessary levers are in place that can make efforts like this successful. And finally, in sobriety, we look at the propensity to fund initiatives and keep that leadership support drumbeat pounding from a financial perspective.
Metrics of Sobriety
Within the CX flight check sobriety test the metrics that we’re interested in are:
- Can we increase leadership alignment while decreasing any apathy?
- Can we increase culture readiness for a CX axis shift?
- Do we have the ability to raise total employee engagement in an effort like this?
- Can we reduce sandbagging and resistance to changes that are necessary?
- Do we have the ability to increase mid-level management support?
- Do we have the ability to communicate the change initiatives in a way that will take hold?
- Do we have the ability to create collective ambition of all the participants involved in the initiative to be successful?
- Can we all rise together and increase the excitement and innovation around customer experience management that allows us to make the operations side of customer experience management a really vital and thriving part of change?
Top 10 Reasons “Sobriety” is Key
Lastly, I thought it would be fun to point out the top 10 reasons Sobriety Checks make sense for companies. These are things we see inside of organizations that lead to our belief that this first assessment was necessary.
- Ignorance is Bliss
Company leaders talk about customer experience and service excellence but make no commitments or serious changes and thus keep experiencing the same issues with customers and competition.
- Stop at Vision
Executives plot out a vision for CX but have no idea that it’s not being followed-through.
- Let’s Just Take Someone Else’s Medicine
They borrow from Apple and Zappos not minding that it won’t work for their company.
- Frontline Scapegoating
Organizations sometimes unknowingly scapegoat their front lines (research tells us that 85-95% of CX problems are management related not employee related.) Managers who aren’t sure, tend to CYA.
- I’ll Take One of Everything, Now, Please
Executives scramble to get it all done at once which sabotages everyone and everything attached to CX.
- We Don’t Need Help!
Executives refuse outside help or assistance. Their strategic goals outline a commitment to the customer, but they don’t really mean it.
- The Training Bandage
Companies mask their lack of competencies (esp. for CX) by sending their employees to a series of misguided online courses to check off boxes. They expect the courses to repair a lack of practical applications.
- The Answer is Data, Platforms and Technology
All problems are people problems in business. Tech is an enabler.
- We Already Have Tools for This
Many executives have incumbent consultants to do everything for them regardless of its nature and those consultants approach CX from a formal Agile process or TQM, Six Sigma or even Kaizen or numerous other approaches that worked for their previous clients. This drowns employees in to-do’s, 75% more meetings, data that may not be at all relevant, paperwork and processes (and processes about paperwork and paperwork about processes) and confusion toward the wrong outcomes.
- We Executed the Execution
Many companies implement giant, cumbersome strategies but fail to hit their KPIs.
As, Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup stated,
“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”
Let’s make sure the organization is sober and ready before we spend any time marching down the wrong path. Let’s find the best way to win in the workplace, first.