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Guest Blogger

By Claire Sporton, SVP, Customer Experience Innovation, Confirmit

Do you feel like 2020 is passing in a blur? How is your CX programme faring? Are you making progress or do you feel like you are stuck in the starting gate? For some, the focus on collecting data is resulting in ever deeper data lakes that are becoming murkier by the minute, making it even harder to provide people with the insight they need to make timely and effective decisions that lead to better business outcomes.

The findings of the CX State of the Nation survey certainly suggest that what’s needed is a shift from “measuring reality” to “changing reality” in order to drive change.

I’ve already shared my thoughts about building trust both inside and outside the organisation and the need for one source of the truth about customer experience. But in order to make better decisions, we need to harness the potential of both technology and people alike to derive real value from the insights that you have manage to surface from your data lake.

Focus on better decisions

So how are we going to support better decisions? Unsurprisingly, the survey indicated that technology is the area of CX where most people expect to see investment in order to improve decision making. However, it’s worth remembering that adding new technology on its own is never going to make a difference. Technology is the enabler – not the end result. Remember all those cool kitchen gadgets you bought and only ever used once? It needs engagement and human action if you want to deliver real value.

This is certainly an issue for AI. It does offer great potential but it is still proving to be somewhat elusive which is no doubt why 30% of respondents said that they either have no idea or a negative view of the role of AI on CX.

Ideally implementing AI, automation, predictive analytics and technology in general should be about simplifying complex data and supporting human problem solving. It should provide insight that employees can combine with their own experiences and knowledge that isn’t shown in the data, empowering them to take action.

Empowering the frozen middle

Interestingly, one of the most revealing questions posed by the survey was who is actually empowered to make decisions on the basis of CX insights and who is actively making decisions.

Even in businesses who have invested in CX, more than half of the executive teams are taking decisions without considering customer insight! And for middle managers and frontline teams, the numbers get really scary, only 17% of middle managers are using insights to aid decision making, and 8% of frontline staff.

If we want to support smarter decisions across the whole organisation and achieve the goal of being “customer centric” we must as a priority engage our middle managers. This is where many CX programmes stall and is contributing to the slump we are seeing in CX performance. The ability to share usable insight via tailored dashboards, alerts and actions is now possible via any Voice of the Customer platform, so this really should not be an insurmountable problem! Of course, no matter how sexy the charts (and even as a data geek I would question if ANY charts are actually sexy), dashboards alone won’t do the job. CX teams need to be able to share customer insights in ways that resonate with people – more on this later.

What’s needed is a clear line of sight into the decision-making process, the actions taken as a result and, most importantly, the outcomes. This will build trust in the process, help ensure that successes are replicated, and prevent unsuccessful decisions being repeated.

CX programmes can have a significant impact on business culture, helping to innovate, shape and drive change on a variety of issues so it’s entirely logical to implement proven technology and harness CX to empower everyone to make insight-driven decisions. We can do better!

Key skills

In my view, some of the key skills for better decision making include process design and execution, as well as data analytics. And, as I mentioned earlier, the ability to take insight and use it to tell stories, and to use data to influence people across the business.

Interestingly 60% of leaders regard these skills as essential for future success which suggests that they understand that it is the actual execution of a programme against business goals that secures success. And these skills are being developed and seen as ‘emerging’ in a solid 59% of respondents.

I’m hugely reassured to learn that CX professionals are ready to embrace the skills revolution.

And finally…

Here are my recommendations on how to improve decision making in your organisation:

You need to continue with the evolution if… you are already enabling people beyond the CX team and most senior staff to access and react to customer insight.
Some evolutionary ideas:

  • Keep sharing the responsibility more widely to enable strategic business initiatives to evolve, as well as tactical decisions.
  • Consider capturing feedback from employees too. Those on the front line are often best placed to understand the root cause of recurring customer issues so you can address systemic issues and really impact the bottom line.
  • Act as champion of these groups to help senior leaders understand that they are critical to the process.

You need to start a revolution if… it’s only your CX team and a few execs who are empowered to make decisions based on customer insight.

Some revolutionary ideas:

  • This is not about sharing CX dashboards with more people (though that helps!) but requires a cultural revolution in which people are trusted to do the right thing.
  • Spotlight innovative thinking and change projects
  • Map your middle managers – and target the most engaged/influential
  • Build a network of champions across the company who can support frontline and middle management teams. And track the impact of actions!

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