Start With Why: Three Questions to Help CX Leaders Create Focus

November 1, 2019

Removing distractions and starting with the “why” to guide your company’s customer experience saves time and money.

Businesses have a lot of digital distractions these days. It’s hard to miss all the hype. Big data, cloud, IoT, machine learning, 3D printing, etc.

In fact, Neha Sempat (@nehasf) notes that there are already over 1,300 Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) on LinkedIn in her insightful article on why Every Company Needs a Chief Digital Officer. The CDO’s role is vast. As Sempat states:

“It takes vision, discipline and a thorough understanding of a broad set of technologies to effect digital change. In my experience, technology is rarely the main issue. Rather, it’s about finding the organizational [structure] that allows a business to be successful defining and implementing its digital strategy.”

But this isn’t really about the need for the CDO role. Regardless of the title, digital customer experience leaders must help your organizations narrow the focus amidst all the distractions. 

The Golden Circle Creates Focus

Simon Sinek’s Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action introduces the “Golden Circle” framework to explain how great companies like Apple, Southwest, etc. start with their “why” to create coherent product and service experiences aligned to their purpose.

The Golden Circle has three layers:

  • Why – Why do you do what you do? What’s your purpose?
  • How – How do you do what you do to fulfill your purpose?
  • What – What do you do? What’s your product or service?

Sinek points out that companies like Southwest start with their “why” (purpose) and infuse that into the “how” (people, process, technologies) to deliver the “what” (product). Seems logical, yet many organizations start backwards and instead focus on the “what” without a clear sense of the “how” and definitely not the “why.”

People buy why you do it. Not what you do.

Starting with “why” isn’t just about discovering your organization’s purpose. The Golden Circle is also a framework to help ensure focus on your digital customer experience initiatives.

The Golden Circle Applied

At SingleStone, we see many requests from organizations looking for a redesigned website or a new mobile app or a new content management system or a ______ (fill in the blank). Creating focus amidst all these distractions (aka “whats”) is the common challenge.

You can save yourself and your organization a lot of time and money in your digital customer experience journey by starting with a simple question, “why?”.

Let’s walk through an example for a company that’s launching a new website to accompany a new product launch, highlighting a few questions our consultants ask to help clarify purpose, establish focus, and drive results.

Why are you building this new digital experience?

What’s the motivation or driver for change? What gap or opportunity in the market does your new product fill? How does it fit into the broader why of the organization? Remember, customer experience is not a project. It’s your business.

Only by knowing these answers can you design the strategies and tactics for how you’re going to build the integrated digital experience that wraps the new product launch. With over 1000+ marketing automation technology vendors, it’s easy to get distracted with the latest and greatest. There’s a world of choices available for today’s digital customer experience leader.

Knowing the purpose of your initiative and how it connects to the broader why of your organization sets the guideposts for every decision for your new digital experience.

How are you going to build this new digital experience?

Once you clarify the purpose, the intent, of the new digital experience, you can then move to defining how you’ll deliver on the experience. You’ll see that delivering on this new experience is much more than the actual site, but also how the processes for associates need to be redesigned and how the different functional areas must be coordinated and trained. It’s also about the different channels covering the web, mobile (native and responsive), and in person experience.

The how of the site, the digital experience, is just a part of the overall experience you’re building to support your why. Knowing this allows you to make clear choices on how to spend your limited time and budget to build the desired experience. It’s clearly not just about the technology. The how encompasses the holistic customer experience. This is your roadmap.

What are you going to build?

With the why and how clarified, you’re now armed with a roadmap (the how) that aligns to the why of the digital experience initiative that in turn aligns to the big why of the organization. Then, and only then, should you start to build the experience. What started as a site has turned into a tight integration of many components of your business (design, technology, people, and process) to deliver on your purpose.

There’s truth in the statement that “Ideas are easy. Execution is hard.” When you start with the why to guide the how and what, the execution becomes much simpler as you’ve removed the many potential distractions out there today.

Do you know your why? We can help. Let’s talk.

Jimmy Chou

Chief Executive Officer
Jimmy Chou has over 20 years of experience across multiple industries, with a particular focus in financial services and insurance. As SingleStone’s CEO, Jimmy has been instrumental in leading the firm through transformational change since he stepped into the role in 2017. Under his leadership, the firm established a refreshed vision and strategy that has resulted in clearly defined service offerings, the expansion of the firm’s geographic footprint, and most importantly, significantly improved customer and business results for SingleStone's clients. Throughout his consulting career, he’s worked tirelessly to earn the trust and respect of his clients, many of whom seek him as a trusted advisor, partner, and confidant. Equally as important to Jimmy are the relationships he’s built across his own team. He’s enthusiastic about growing and developing the next generation of leaders for SingleStone. An advocate and community partner, Jimmy supports several philanthropic organizations, and serves on the board of the YMCA of Greater Richmond and Storefront for Community Design. He was recognized with the 2020 Male Ally award on behalf of Richmond Technology Council’s MLM Awards. Jimmy regularly acts as a mentor and guest speaker for Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond, providing counsel, advice, and encouragement to the next generation of leaders. He also supports and contributes to Girls Who Code, an organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Jimmy is a graduate of Wake Forest University and CFA Charterholder.