Customer defection: Prevent it in three quick steps

Customer Defection

Every leader I’ve ever worked with is concerned about, and wants to prevent, customer defection. As we all know, though, customer defection does happen — and often it happens because of unclear issues around that same leadership. For as much as the modern business world is beginning to talk about “culture,” many people miss the point. In a large, enterprise-type organization, your culture is modeled and driven by the behaviors of your senior leadership team. That filters down to all the other levels in terms of what’s a priority, what should be done, what can be done, and more. Problems with customers, up to and including customer defection, usually begin at the leadership level — and not just the CCO, but the entire team responsible for all the different functional silos. In fact, the sheer existence of silos is what kills most customer experience strategy.

Within my five competencies of customer experience, I try to provide “action items” — I call them recipe cards — so that leaders can start proving immediate ROI. Here’s one example of how to use these recipe cards. In this post, we’ll discuss some recipe cards related to my fourth competency, experience reliability and innovation, and how that can help you with customer defection.

Preventing customer defection: The three overall steps

Those would be:

  • Align the leadership team (I call this “one-company leadership”)
  • Give permission
  • Prove it with action

Now let’s take each of these one-by-one.

Preventing customer defection: Align the leadership team

Just did a podcast episode on the first 90 days of being in a CCO role, and the No. 1 piece of advice was “align the leadership team.” Look, it’s 2016. Silos don’t work. If you’re a CCO or CX professional and you run into a colleague, the worst thing you can hear these days is “No, I have my own customer metrics.” Customers do not care about how companies are doing metrics or prioritizing work (or how experienced your team is). They care about the experience they’re getting in the market. It’s hard to deliver that experience consistently if your leadership team is all over the place with silo-by-silo metrics and surveys. Kill that behavior. Align the leadership team and you’ll prevent customer defection.

Preventing customer defection: Give permission

This is how you start that leadership alignment. You go cross-silo and give permission for people to work together, collaborate, and share supposedly “proprietary” data from their functional area. You model the behaviors that you want to see from others. Customer experience is one area of a company that almost has to be owned by multiple people. That terrifies some existing executives who are used to “Tom owns P&L for this, and Jerry owns it for that.” Customer experience needs to be cross-silo, and you need to give permission for that to happen. That’s a step away from customer defection.

Preventing customer defection: Prove it with action

Business, especially quarterly business, is about results. I get that. I’ve been doing it 30 years. You need to give CX work some time to develop — because CX work is inherently about relationships. But ultimately, everything needs to be proved with action. That goes both ways, though. Some leaders miss this. If your CX team hits all the targets they need to hit and customer defection is way down, reward the team. Promote from within. It works, and it reduces turnover. “Customer defection” can also mean “employee defection,” because employees are essentially internal customers. Remember that.

We’ll be back next week with a new podcast and blog — but for now, anything else on customer defection?

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