Customer Experience

Three Tips to Embed Customer Experience Into Your Operation

How can a company best translate CX strategy into CX operations? Overcome key challenges with these tips.

by Gray Hollins

Companies understand, and more importantly, are acting on the need for exceptional customer experience. The question is—are the actions working, and if not, how can they be improved? How can a company best translate customer experience strategy into customer experience operations? What are the key challenges and how can they be overcome?

I recently participated in a survey published by the Process Excellence Network, asking for insights into these important questions.  Following the survey, I was fortunate to be interviewed by an Editor at PEX Network and included in the resulting white paper: Operationalizing the Customer Experience: Challenges and Opportunities.  The paper describes several challenges to customer experience operations, including the top three survey responses: lack of management commitment, departmental silos, and resistance to change. Understanding the impact, and overcoming these challenges allows companies to take action, learn, and continuously adapt to the ever-changing customer landscape. 

To help with the journey, here are three tips for overcoming these challenges:

  • Shift the mindset from goal to necessity and address gaps in commitment
  • Focus on getting the basics right through increased communication and metrics regardless of the organizational structure
  • Establish a culture and tools for success, rather than just tactics

Shift the mindset from goal to necessity and address gaps in commitment

Swing Bridge

It’s increasingly rare to discuss strategic priorities without including the topic of customer experience improvement. For many companies, the topic has changed from an objective to a necessity for business success (or even survival). Although it’s a strategic priority, companies often don’t commit to customer experience improvement through investment.

To shift the mindset, start by establishing a strong partnership between accountable management and process improvement teams. This partnership will allow process improvement teams to clearly demonstrate the bottom line impact of improved customer experience.  While initial budgets and resources may be tight, focusing on tracking and reporting all improvements will demonstrate progress and lead to increased commitment and investment.  To use a quote from Arthur Ashe, “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”  This is an excellent approach with limited budget, but doing “what you can” has constraints.  With increased budget and resource commitment, those constraints are reduced.  At this point, increased partnership with technology teams is mission critical to fully transform an operation into a customer experience operation.

Another key shift in mindset is necessary. Instead of thinking about traditional cost center departments as “back office” support, companies should consider how a department contributes to exceptional customer experience and manage to those standards.  These basics are an essential foundation to customer experience operations.  In short, customers want simple processes, and simple processes are inherently efficient and cost-effective.  If companies can accomplish simplicity across silos, customers will feel the difference.

Focus on getting the basics right through increased communication and metrics, regardless of the organizational structure

Chess pieces

According to the American Management Association, 83% of companies indicate that they operate in silo organizational structures (AMAnet.org). Silos historically have arisen as companies organize around critical business functions. While customer experience is certainly a “critical” business function, it needs to be a seamless part of the structure rather than a structure unto itself.  Despite good intent, many companies are unintentionally creating new silos named, “Customer Experience Teams.”

To support customer experience operations, customer experience must become a priority for all business units, regardless of function. Operational leaders need to make improvements to people, processes, and technology that align with customer experience strategy. Additionally, companies should manage the connections between silos so they can work together to achieve its goals.

A key aspect of this alignment is shared metrics and accountability. Departments should be held accountable for customer experience measures like loyalty, referrals and repeat purchasing. This commitment helps create empowered and engaged employees which, in turn, creates empowered and engaged customers.

Establish a culture and tools for success, rather than just tactics

Team collaboration

With commitment from leadership and improved communication between silos, establishing a culture focused on customer experience becomes easier. Creating such a culture requires a structure that enables shifts in mindsets and behaviors towards customer experience goals. Sustaining this culture takes empowered employees that have the training, tools, and support needed to consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Dramatic cultural change requires consistent and frequent communication to all parts of the organization.  It takes time, commitment and a whole lot of patience.  Ultimately, success requires sustained commitment to customer experience culture and operations, not held solely within a “Customer Experience Team.”  It’s as much people, as it is process and technology.

In today’s environment, products and services are quickly commoditized, and customers wield dramatic influence on a company’s ability to gain or maintain market share. It is critical for companies to identify and take action on opportunities to differentiate a brand by enhancing customer experience. It is within those experiences that companies create real competitive advantage, attracting and retaining loyal customers.

Transformation to realize customer experience success is not easy, but is attainable. How far along the road is your company on the journey to customer experience operations?

The PEX Network survey results can be found here: Operationalizing the Customer Experience: Challenges and Opportunities.

Gray Hollins
Gray Hollins
Senior Consultant
Contact Gray

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