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Guest Blogger

By Claire Sporton, SVP, Customer Experience Innovation, Confirmit

Happy New Year! Hopefully everyone has welcomed in 2019 in style and recovered from the celebrations. It’s back to reality now team, and I for one want to make 2019 the year that customer experience (CX) really moved forward. 2018 was a perfectly adequate year for CX, but honestly, I think too many companies are talking the talk and failing to walk the walk.

Let’s agree now that we’ll crack on and focus on ensuring that our companies actually change something to improve the customer experience. And by ‘change’, I don’t mean ‘slightly increase Net Promoter Scores’! Let’s make some CX resolutions that focus on the business, not the metric. Please.

So, if it is all about walking the walk, what can we do differently? In our introductory blog to this series, we said we would spend the first few months of 2019 focusing on each of these ‘Habits of highly effective CX professionals’ in turn and hopefully provide a little more of a deep dive into what we can do to develop the habit.

To help us turn these good intentions into reality, let’s focus on the first of the five habits that we need to put into practice, all year round, if we want to become CX Leaders, not Laggards, this year.

Habit #1 – Define goals and business outcomes

To recap, the report defined CX Leaders in terms of specific business outcomes – by the value that a CX programme delivers across an organisation and the ability to secure significant increase in budget. It should therefore come as no surprise that this habit was top of the list. The key point to remember, though, is that it is not just that goals have been set – but that goals must be owned.

Let me explain. It’s all too easy for CX professionals to focus exclusively on CX metrics, to operate within the ‘comfort zone’ of the familiar, when assessing and measuring CX success. However, while I agree that CX metrics are useful when communicating with other CX practitioners, that language and those terms of reference don’t usually translate well with the executive team or employees at large. And talking between ourselves in code is likely to alienate everyone else from understanding the objectives behind a CX programme.

Instead, we must reach out to stakeholders, understand their wider business goals and work with them to define how CX improvements and initiatives can actively help them deliver on their aims.  Then we are in a position to agree their CX-specific goals with them, and to communicate and define success using the measurements and terminology that will secure broad support, not only at board level but across the organisation. We must also remember that the strongest link or indicator to future investment in a CX programme is making sure that everyone ‘owns’, identifies with and is committed to delivering on CX goals so there can be no excuses for not getting the message across.

The research found that ‘clarity and ownership’ of goals is the Number One Habit that is characterised by CX Leaders so, if we want to follow their example, we must work hard to ensure that CX values are embedded into every department. It’s the most effective way to make sure that everyone is ‘on the same page’, striving to develop a truly customer-centric culture. Relying on a single team or function to create a better customer experience will never deliver the desired results, nor will it set a strong case for more CX investment. It will just be an uphill struggle.

To achieve critical support, CX professionals must work with business leadership to:

Set clear goals: this means defining what success looks like. It sounds obvious but the report shows that the majority were not confident that they had set clear and achievable goals. This is a concern but also a great opportunity. Many of the issues facing CX professionals require significant investment or resources but setting and aligning goals does not require money or IT support.

Get key stakeholders on board – the challenge here is to ensure that stakeholders really own those goals. They cannot be held responsible for goals that are owned solely by the CX team so this is an area where CX professionals need to let go and enable other teams to move things forward. Unfortunately, not everyone in an organisation will be motivated by a CX or employee engagement (EE) metric. So CX teams must align their goals to the business outcomes that individuals and departments are being challenged to achieve – be that reduction in churn for Account Managers or efficiency of the contact centre.

Identify Return on Investment – don’t pull that face, you knew this was coming. Proving ROI from a CX programme is a huge challenge for even the most experienced teams but it is essential to make the link to business outcomes for the practice of CX to be taken seriously and to secure ongoing investment. Rather than getting lost for months building the most comprehensive and accurate lifetime model, be pragmatic. Talk to your CFO. What level of return are they looking for?  Most CFOs are not looking for huge multipliers, they want to minimise risk – i.e. covering the investment as quickly as possible. In fact, this makes life a lot easier. Rather than defining the theoretical value of improving a score, we can focus on a specific improvement initiative, the investment that we need, and then calculate the actual increase in revenue or reduction in cost that this initiative will deliver.

I think 2019 can become the year that CX professionals stop being the face of a department, and become a coach for the rest of the business. The people who can provide the insight, guidance and support to drive change – not just ‘the NPS people’. Just a thought.

Join the conversation: If you have clear CX goals, how did you get buy-in across the company? What tips can you share that will help new goal-setters get the support they need? Tweet me at @ClaireSporton and I’ll share the best.