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Customer experience: You think you are ready for change? Think again

There’s a predictable arc to stories of companies that have set out to overhaul the experience for their customers but run out of steam or utterly failed to deliver results. The project starts with a burst of enthusiasm, often fuelled by middle managers dealing with complaints from customers passed up the chain by frazzled frontline staff.

Custome Experience: you think you are ready? #cxreimagine

The senior management team is initially positive – anything to better serve the customer is good, right?

Before long, the customer experience team has plastered the walls with sticky notes and brought in some real-life users to interview. The designers arrive and start working up wireframes of the shiny new website and in-store displays.

Then the senior leadership team pop their heads in. “You want to spend how much?” they say in unison.

Buy-in from the top

The CX team gets half the budget they expected, so there’s no scope to bring customers back in throughout the process to test the results, pivot and make changes.

The cost-cutting means there isn’t resource to employ the data analytics that will test whether the whole exercise lifts sales and customer satisfaction. Even worse, the end-product just makes customers even more frustrated because it has drifted so far from what they asked for in those early customer feedback sessions.

There are two key reasons customer experience projects fail like this – the transformation doesn’t have buy-in from senior management from the get-go and the customer, who should be at the heart of everything, isn’t consulted throughout the project and trusted to help define the outcome. The customer complaints keep piling up.

Last week’s CX conference 2019 in Auckland showcased CX projects from the likes of IAG, Foodstuffs, NZTA and Toyota that have actually succeeded in delivering better outcomes for customers while improving the performance of the businesses.

The common theme to all of them was effective change management. Without it, any customer experience transformation can go off the rails.

A continuous process

A major CX initiative isn’t the type of project that can be frontloaded with work. It’s a continuous process where numerous parties need to be kept abreast of developments throughout.

Senior managers won’t sign off on investing in it if they aren’t confident it will produce results for the business that are measurable. That is only understandable. They spend their days with an eye on the balance sheet and in some cases, the other fixed on the company’s share price.

They have heard the customer experience buzzwords but want proof that they can expect tangible change that will benefit the business. Supermarket shoppers may love the idea of free fruit for their kids while they shop, but can the business afford it?

In fact, it may be that while the kids are content munching away on apples, the parents spend more time browsing the aisles and actually spend more. Only understanding the fundamentals of the business as well as the customer experience can confirm an outcome that serves the business as well as the customer.

To sign off on a CX initiative, senior management needs to understand what is required to do the project justice. As the company embarks on its CX journey, they’ll need to be regularly updated and assured that the project is on track or that pivots are justified.

It is a difficult process, because how you put the customer at the centre of what you do will be different for every business. You can’t apply the same playbook for every product or service, so senior management need to have trust in the process.

User feedback throughout

A proper CX transformation will see users of the product or service constantly asked for feedback. Peer review is important and feedback should be taken seriously.

There’s a practical reason for soliciting continuous feedback. If a change costs a dollar to make on paper, it will cost a hundred dollars in the design phase. Taking onboard feedback early on will allow the changes in the planning phase that avoid expensive changes later on.

Feedback can’t be analysed by one part of the business in isolation. It needs to be filtered through senior management, product managers, sales people and digital experience designers.

The process of receiving and acting on customer experience feedback is increasing happening in the open. Some companies have taken the process to the next level. We heard at CX conference 2019 how Amazon launched its Amazon Go checkout-free supermarkets in beta mode and told its users to help them refine the experience.

When social media networks were just gathering steam, many banks decided against having a presence on Facebook and Twitter, fearful that they would be swamped with complaints for everyone to see. It was a handful of brave trailblazers who proved that being open, transparent and flexible to change, actually worked in their favour. For every complaint, there was an advocate defending the company for explaining itself and willing to act on feedback to provide a better customer experience.

Good data is crucial

When we implement a change in how customers use our websites, products or how experience our retail stores, it should be like skimming a pebble across a pond.

The ripples spreading out are the resulting data those interactions generate. If the pebble disappears with a plop, we’ve no idea what impact we are having. We need to have solid data platforms, strategies and intelligence systems to measure the impacts of changing the customer experience.

Five tips for handling customer experience transformations:

  • Secure early senior management buy-in and nurture trust
  • Create shared values across the organisation to embody in the change
  • Document and socialise the successes and the failures
  • Decide which data and KPIs will determine success
  • Communicate clearly throughout the process

At Intergen, we’ve helped many companies embark on their own digital customer experience transformations. Contact us to learn how we can help your business and download our whitepaper on the importance of personalising the customer experience in a world where competing purchases are just a swipe or click away.



This blog is part of the #cxreimagine series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download the whitepaper, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download the whitepaper, click the banner #cxreimagine

Posted by: Adam Ford, Practice Lead, Digital & Experience Design | 21 August 2019

Tags: customer experience, Digital Transformation, #CXreimagine

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