How Your Organization Can Start A Customer Experience Program
Customer experience (CX) can be a transformational growth driver for your company. If you can identify your brand advocates, gather customer feedback and implement improvements and changes, you can, in turn, bring new customers to your product or service. This virtuous circle could be the secret sauce to becoming a more successful company.
Of course, you can’t integrate experience into your processes overnight, and it takes a committed team to do this. Think about a three-year road map and develop a high-level timeline for how you plan to get there. Consensus is critical, and if you don’t have this at the highest level of the organization, your program is unlikely to succeed.
I’ve been involved with CX as part of my marketing work for many years. This past year, my team and I took a much deeper dive into CX insights and adopted a new platform to drive growth for our organization. Let’s break down the major components of a successful CX program.
Allow Room For Time And Planning
CX programs typically take three years to get off the ground. The first year should be dedicated to developing relational surveying, analyzing that data and determining how you will address and handle customer feedback. Your relational survey should focus on your customer’s overall experience and satisfaction. The second year is typically focused on getting transactional surveys in place. These surveys will investigate the experience you provide within a particular interaction or touchpoint. By the third year, you should have your surveys on a standard schedule with feedback loops and actionable plans in place to address the results.
Face What’s Wrong And Fix It
On the surface, it would seem that this would be the easiest part of your program. Who wouldn’t want to know what’s wrong and fix it? But this is by far the most challenging part of CX for me. It’s tough to face negative feedback, especially if your organization is new to surveying. Organizational denial is normal at the beginning, and questioning the data is very standard.
“We never hear this type of feedback!” or “We’ve always served our customers well!” are common responses. While many may feel defensive, it’s important to note that you haven’t previously surveyed customers about this deep level of experience. When you take this approach, customers will definitely tell you what they think and how they interact with your brand.
Reach A Consensus
For this type of program to succeed, you should start right at the top. Leverage your CEO to help communicate the importance of the program and why your organization has decided to prioritize CX. Many organizations that want to improve their net promoter score (NPS) make this a key metric across the company since NPS is a score everyone in the company can impact and shape.
If you’re not sure how to calculate your NPS, you can do so by subtracting the number of detractors (those who give you a score of 0 to 6 on a 10-point scale) from the number of promoters (9 to 10 on a 10-point scale) who answer the question “would you recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”
Defining your “why” and “how” is key to building agreement. Spend time gaining consensus about what metrics you will use. Without consensus, people often question data, and programs may not be as successful. You need advocates to help drive the success and adoption of CX across the organization. Starting with your CEO and leadership team is key because they all own these metrics, and their teams are the ones that will be working on improvements to your customer feedback loop.
Determine What Resources You Need
You’ll likely need the resources of a full-time employee to deploy the surveys, analyze the data and present their conclusions. An analyst in the marketing department typically performs this job. While you can start by dedicating 50% of the role to these responsibilities, it will probably become a full-time job as the program grows and transactional surveys are added. Ownership is key, so it’s important to establish a group that will be responsible for action items.
Forming a CX task force is an important step and a commitment that can help you drive both adoption and a feedback loop. This task force typically includes a key group of leaders or managers who represent the major areas of your company that impact customer experience. As an example, at our credit union, this includes marketing, training, lending, member experience/retail, IT and operations.
In the first year, getting the two surveys out and analyzing the data, then presenting the data to your leadership team and your CX task force, will take significant time. Always start at the leadership level and then use your task force as the group that implements changes based on the feedback you are receiving.
Once the task force has agreed upon a plan of action and has developed its tactics, you should set short sprints of 60 to 90 days to measure your improvements. Set a regularly scheduled meeting with the group to keep the momentum going.
Drive Top-Down Commitment
I cannot overstate how important it is to involve your CEO at all levels. As your program develops, training, education and communications will be highly impactful. Have your CEO kick off these sessions, record videos with the CEO, and create several other touchpoints with them to help your leadership team and staff understand the importance of how CX will drive not only improvement but also growth for your company. When everyone in the company is talking about NPS and thinking about how their group can help drive improvements and innovation, you’ve reached the level of commitment it takes to use CX to drive growth.
Creating a continual customer feedback loop is important for growth, product development and innovation. It takes time, but the rewards can be impactful to your company, your employees and your customers — and can become important catalysts for your company’s development and maturity.