It’s been a busy week (aren’t they all?) because of CX Week, where I had the pleasure of speaking with Mark Ramsey of Audi about their customer experience transformation. I did want to create a quick blog post about customer experience competencies, however. I write about this often because it’s the cornerstone of the work we all do. I came to these competencies over 30 years of observing customer-focused growth engines that worked — and many that didn’t work. Here’s the essential overview:
Customer experience work is often tremendously reactionary. Leaders are responding to the last round of surveys. That doesn’t work. The goal is to move past that and create an actual engine that drives growth and hits your business goals.
Customer Experience Competencies: Customers As Assets
This is about a new language set for the leadership team, and a new definition of success — namely, customers as assets. Senior leadership teams are very often in meetings, and those meetings typically have a regular cadence to them relative to each team. This competency is about changing the structure of those meetings. A meeting begins by talking about customers, customers as assets, and customer needs — and the senior leaders discuss the results of what they’re doing. The goal here is to move a focus on customers and customer experience away from the ‘nice-to-have’ bucket and into a real growth engine.
Customer Experience Competencies: Align Around Experience
Instead of driving the work down through the silos — which is typically how corporations are structured — we shift the focus to experience-based discussions. For example:
- What’s the on-boarding experience?
- What’s the purchase experience?
- What’s the new product experience?
This ultimately shifts how a company brings a product to market. It creates new embedded behaviors about how a company does business. In the first five episodes of my new podcast, The CCO Human Duct Tape Show, we talk about this alignment around experience and shifted business models/behaviors often. Each guest I’ve had — and several more I’ve taped and yet to release — admits that it takes time. To do effective work around customer experience competencies, you’re trying to fundamentally alter the way a company and its leadership team does business and thinks about business. It doesn’t happen overnight, and that’s important to remember. (This is one great reason to listen to the podcast episodes — it’s actionable advice from people doing it every day.)
Customer Experience Competencies: Customer Listening Path
Aggregate multiple channels of customer feedback. It’s not just surveys, but it’s also not just social media. It’s everything. If you want to see examples of three companies doing this right in the modern business environment, read this post. (There are also dozens of examples in my books.) The important aspect of a customer listening path is making sure that you map the feedback you receive to the customer experience. If you listen and do nothing with the feedback, that’s a tree falling in the forest. If you listen and apply the feedback in a way that’s disjointed with actual customer experience/journey, that won’t have any actionable effect. You need to listen, then map to customer journey. If you do that, the listening aspect will have ROI.
Customer Experience Competencies: Experience Reliability and Innovation
This is a major necessity for true customer growth. You need to create experiences that customers can repeat. It needs to be consistent. This became even more crucial in the era of social media. If you don’t provide experiences that customers can repeat, you don’t earn the right to their story. They’re not going to recommend you. Remember: by now, people mostly know how to ignore or gloss over advertisements, even if they’re beautiful. But people very much so trust influence and feedback from their friends, and social media is huge for that. Your brand won’t get that love without experience reliability.
The big takeaway here: customer experience design methodology needs to be as rigorous a process in your organization as product development. Many organizations beginning this type of work don’t understand that or aren’t there yet, but that’s where you need to get to.
Customer Experience Competencies: One-Company Leadership
How do you hire people? How do you remove process that is hindering your people’s productivity? What vocabulary are you using? Is it shared? What metrics are being used to evaluate each senior leader? Is there shared accountability?
You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but without effective organizational decision-making where the senior leaders get on the same page with regard to the needs of customers, you won’t grow as a business. That’s one-company leadership. It’s a deliberate decision to grow together as opposed to growing as functional silos.
Happy CX Week
I hope you all had a great week learning from each other and taking in new trends. You can learn more about customer experience competencies here or in my books, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
We’ll be back on Tuesday with a new podcast episode with Alison Circle of the Columbus (OH) Metropolitan Library system discussing the modernization of the library’s approach to its patrons/customers.