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Three Common Mindset Mistakes In CX and How to Zen Yourself Out of Them

Over the past year, across a dozen CX management program engagements, we’ve noticed three common mindset mistakes in CX. People who are doing the hard work of managing their firm’s CX efforts seem to be looking at CX way too narrowly. For those who are trying to improve services, support and customer satisfaction projects forward are hitting brick walls, There is a way to Zen yourself out of this and start changing your mindset. Doing so will most certainly unlock big opportunities for your company’s bottom line.

It’s concerning that these three common mindset mistakes in CX are significantly limiting their firm’s potential. It’s unfortunate and seems to be getting worse and not better. What concerns us most about these mindset mistakes is that for the same effort and internal cost, they could be achieving a lot more. However, they are either unaware of how to do it or they are discouraged by their leadership’s perception and containment mindset of what CX can (and certainly should) yield.  

The Origins of Misunderstood CX

So, what are the origins of this?

  • A lot of consultancies, ad/marketing agencies, software companies, managed services providers and others have all flocked to provide CX in whatever way they can sell it. As a result, in order to sell it, they all create their own pathway to “thought leadership” and differentiate the key terms and approaches. This has caused a lot of confusion leaving firms to wonder which way to go, if any way at all. Things have really gotten a lot murkier recently. Much of the content out there is confusing CX leaders and creating doubt in approach. For instance, there are now several hundred different variations of the term, “customer experience.” There are almost as many different variations of the term “customer experience management.” (We have an analyst who has started a database of these.) The net effect is that we have dozens, if not hundreds, of consultant practitioners who are all counseling CX leaders to focus only on low-hanging fruit. Their hope is to turn a hard ROI, but in doing so are avoiding critical foundations that would otherwise set their programs up for success.
  • Many of the more DIY firms who wish to figure out CX themselves tend to succumb to the pressure to keep it very simple and rigidly aligned to hard, tangible ROI metrics. In following this approach, they tend to look at CX very narrowly and dismiss the larger picture for those aspects of CX that may not be as hard or tangible, like culture, governance, strategic communications and purpose. This leads to a more myopic version of what could be. As a result it excludes big parts of what CX really is which drives the conversations about CX down more common paths like NPS, Voice of Customer, and customer satisfaction scores. These are all lagging metrics and not helping drive purposeful and meaningful customer experience initiatives into the cultures who need to make CX work. We know this because when we broach conversations about embedding and diffusing CX deeper into firm cultures with an explicit purpose-led approach, we nearly always hear people say, “yea, no…we don’t really need to do that part.”

The reality is that you, as a representative of your company, can choose to look broadly at CX, striving to increase your understanding of it, or you can focus more narrowly. Focusing more broadly will allow you to manage more of it than you may have previously thought possible. The key is balancing short-term performance WHILE helping your team and your firm increase their understanding of CX.

The Big Three Mistakes

What we have come to understand is that companies who are diving into CX tend to make at least one of the following three critical mistakes:

ONE: They aren’t looking at CX across realistic timeframes. They are overlooking the important activities required to increase the company’s ability to help create more positive client experiences. Additionally, they are not thinking about improving internal capabilities (we call this CX maturity) to manage more of the CX toward desired outcomes (we call that CXM or CEM for customer experience management). They aren’t benchmarking where they are today, where they want to be tomorrow and the things they need to prioritize, fund and execute to get there. We’ve seen this cost companies tens of millions in lost opportunity.

TWO: They’re choosing to look at CX through an ROI pinhole based on what they feel they can control. They do this because the pressure to produce tangible financial outcomes is so intense. Well-intentioned CX leaders find themselves having to create artificial metrics that err on the side of very achievable regardless of whether the outcomes are actually valuable and move the company forward—just as long as they reflect a positive ROI. The problem with this is that CX is far more emotional than rational/cognitive and isn’t always related to financial outcomes as directly as many would like. This may be killing more CX programs than all other mistakes combined. 

Those who choose instead to understand what drives successful CX, all share one thing in common—they all understand that the nature of CX is psychology, steeped in emotions and qualitative phenomena. When confronted with hard-liners re: ROI over all else, we love to ask the questions;

“What is the ROI of really listening to your spouse—I mean really listening with the intent to engage over the impulse to respond, defensively? What is the ROI of truly committing to making changes or compromise from realizing how the other party feels when it’s something you don’t really want to hear? What is the ROI of really engaging in a marriage counseling session in the most present possible way? What is the ROI of your kid’s visit to the guidance counselor after an altercation in the hallway where they learn to confront, compile and deal with conflict? What is the exact ROI of figuring out how to get 50 employees to become more empathetic and do the work necessary to improve their colleague and client relationships?”

All of these can be difference makers in improving a relationship, but none of them can be given a concrete ROI.

Bottom line, experiences are subjective and cannot be made objective no matter how much pressure there is to measure financial gain out of it, but left unchecked, they’re ten times more likely to accelerate client churn than most anything else.

THREE: They think of CX through one of two extremes. They either relegate all of CX as service assurance or efficiency endeavors and aim to eliminate all possible service defects—which most clients would never value, let alone detect. Or, on the other hand, they think of CX as “everything under the sun,” as if your brand is the only thing on your clients’ minds 24/7. This begs the question, “What does it really mean to understand your customer and what are you all doing about that in a consistent and unified way, right now?”

Three Improvements You Can Make Tomorrow  

  1. You will have no real idea where you are or how well you’re progressing if you haven’t measured your firm’s CX readiness or maturity. Construct your own model for the capabilities and enablers and do the work to get the most objective metrics that will honestly help you assess where you are and what concrete steps you need to make to advance your work.
  2. Stop looking at CX through a pinhole. In our X Firm series, we’ve helped many firms broaden the aperture to see vast opportunities through CX that have implications across the entire firm. While customer feedback (Voice of Customer) or NPS scores may be a good start, they are quite literally 5% of a much, much bigger opportunity for the company, its employees and ultimately, its clients and other external stakeholders.
  3. Balance your hard and soft expectations from CX program outcomes across early stage, middle stage and late stage CX. We promise you; the first five things successful firms do to embed the core tenets of CX into the firm DO NOT have hard ROI attached to them but when left unchecked will almost certainly sink your efforts. We recommend visiting our Approach information to get a sense of what these critical foundation steps are and work on them before you return to the grindstone.

Let’s Get Zen for a Minute

I want to end with a thought experiment for CX leaders and firm executives.

Sit somewhere comfortable for 5 minutes. Meditate over these questions—it will change the way you see CX, I promise you.

  • What does it really mean to understand your client relationships over time?
  • What is it that really, truly creates value for your clients that is within your control?
  • How do your clients really see their relationship with you and your firm? How certain are you about that?
  • ROI answers the question: how much value is my firm creating for the money it uses? What does ROI on your CX program initiatives do to improve those key client relationships?
  • ROC (Return on Client) answers the question: how much value does our firm create for the clients it uses to generate revenue?

Try to balance your answers to those last two questions.  Now, go focus your CX energies to harmonize them and you’ll start seeing a broader picture of where you are and where you need to go.

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