Experience Action

Must-Haves for Successful CX Programs

April 02, 2024 Jeannie Walters, CCXP Episode 65
Experience Action
Must-Haves for Successful CX Programs
Show Notes Transcript

Embark on a journey with Jeannie Walters as we unlock the secrets to customer experience success that transcend industries. There are aspects to managing the customer experience in an intentional and proactive way that are true no matter the size of the organization, the leadership, the industry, you name it. We're exploring the must-have elements as opposed to nice-to-haves and mentioning some things you might want to actively ignore.

Join the conversation and discover how customer experience can elevate your business.

Resources Mentioned:
Download the free CX Mission Statement Workbook -- bit.ly/cx-mission-workbook
Download the free CX Success Statement Workbook -- bit.ly/cx-success-workbook
Experience Investigators Website -- experienceinvestigators.com
Learn more about CXI Flight School™ -- cxiflightschool.com
Watch the video version of this episode on YouTube -- youtube.com/@jeanniewalters

Want to ask a question? Visit askjeannie.vip to leave Jeannie a voicemail! (And don't forget to follow Jeannie on LinkedIn! www.linkedin.com/in/jeanniewalters/)

MC:

Experience Action. Let's stop just talking about customer experience, employee experience and the experience of leaders. Let's turn ideas into action. Your host, Jeannie Walters, is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker and founder of Experience Investigators, a strategic consulting firm helping companies increase sales and customer retention through elevated customer experiences. Ready, Set, Action. One, two, three, four.

Jeannie Walters:

Hi everyone! It's another episode of Experience Action Podcast. I'm Jeannie Walters and you bring me the questions and I do my best to answer. So we have another great question this week. Let's listen in.

Jeannie Walters:

Hi Jeannie, it sounds like you've worked in multiple industries. I was wondering what do successful customer experience programs have in common? Are any elements must-haves as opposed to nice-to-have? Thanks! Wouldn't it be nice if we had that magic wand, if we could say every single successful customer experience program has something that you can just sprinkle on top of everything else and it will work, but unfortunately, that's not the real world. [Down note] However, I totally love that

Jeannie Walters:

we're talking about the fact that it doesn't matter what industry you're in. It doesn't matter if you're B2C or B2B or nonprofit or healthcare. There are some consistent ways to deliver on the experience for the people that you serve and ultimately, no matter your organization, you have to be successful. You have to have a sustainable business model that not only serves customers but ultimately makes enough revenue and profitability to keep going. You have people to employ. You have processes to deliver. You want to innovate. You have research and design. That all takes funding, so we want to make sure that we're not just delivering for customers, but we're also delivering for our organization. So today I have three ideas for must-haves and then a few words of caution around what might be nice- to- haves and some things you might want to actively ignore.

Jeannie Walters:

So when we talk about successful customer experience programs, let's talk about what that means. And so the number one thing that you must have as a successful customer experience program is a definition of success. What does it mean to deliver a great customer experience for your customers? What are the rules of engagement? What are the boundaries? And then, taking that one step further, what is the success that your organization is looking for? If we say, well, we think that customer experience is all about making sure customers are happy when they're making a purchase, and we're not paying attention to the fact that the return policy is a nightmare and customers hate it and they get very confused about it and maybe they don't come back, if we're only paying attention to one part that we think defines success, we might be missing the opportunity to really deliver those organizational results that our leaders care about. So the number one thing to do here is to define success.

Jeannie Walters:

Now, we always recommend two things to do this. Number one is your customer experience mission statement. What is your belief? How do you show up? How do you make sure that everybody understands what experience you deliver, no matter what, to your customers? And number two is the customer experience success statement. This is where you walk through. What are our organizational goals? What do our leaders care about? How can we deliver on those ideal outcomes with the right effort around customer experience, and how do we measure that? So get very clear about on what success looks like.

Jeannie Walters:

Now, of course, any customer experience program also has to have a deep understanding of customers. This can only happen if we are regularly inviting them to provide feedback. This doesn't just mean mailing out surveys and hoping for the best. This means inviting them to provide feedback in a regular way. That also includes things like customer interviews, passive ways to provide feedback, operational data how are they actually behaving? All of that information helps you understand your customers.

Jeannie Walters:

Now, one of my favorite ways to talk about this is if you thought about maybe selling to pets, maybe you said our customers are pets. Well, if you've ever had a dog versus a cat, you understand that saying pets is a little too general. So get clear on who your customers are and really understand their specific needs. That is a must-have as well. And then, of course, another must-have we cannot do this alone. This is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor, and so we need to have employee engagement and leadership buy-in so that we can make the changes that we need within our culture, so that we can make sure that we're providing the right processes and tools and support for the employees who are maybe designing the experience in digital experiences or they are delivering directly to the customer or indirectly. It's false to think that only customer facing employees have an impact on the customer experience. Every single employee has an impact on the customer experience. So getting that employee engagement so everybody clearly understands their role and how it's connected to the customer that is an absolute must have for successful customer experience programs.

Jeannie Walters:

Now, what about nice to haves? I would say that today, in today's world, personalization at scale is a nice to have. Customers are expecting it, they are, in some cases, demanding it, but not all organizations have quite caught up to what that means with their technology and tools and data. So if you're not quite there yet, put it on the list as something that you're working towards. It's incredibly important for future customers. But right now, today, customers might give you some grace on that. And if you're not set up for that, look for what you could do to personalize wherever you can throughout their journey, even if you're not quite to the point where you can personalize at the scale you need to.

Jeannie Walters:

The next thing I would say is you want to have a really good way to close the loop with customers. This is where, when we hear from customers, when we gather that data, when they tell us something that's not working, we not only acknowledge it, but then we tell them here's what we're doing about it. Here's what we're doing not just to solve your problem, but to improve this for customers moving forward. Closing the loop is so important because it helps customers feel heard and recognized and they see the progress being made based on their feedback. That can have a tremendous impact on loyalty and feeling connected to a brand. However, again, not all organizations are quite there yet. They can't always close that loop in the most personalized way that really does foster that loyalty that we're looking for. So do what you can here. If you know that you are working on something that a lot of customers have asked for, make an announcement about that. Share it on social channels. Do what you can to at least communicate about the feedback and the input that customers are providing for you. [Ding]

Jeannie Walters:

Another nice to have is really looking at how can we make our customer experience more and more proactive. Now, this is right now, I think, what a lot of organizations are really grasping for how can we prevent things from happening so that we don't have service issues? Some of that proactivity can be in the form of communication. If we know something's not working, if we know something's a little confusing for the customer, we may want to just proactively communicate that as they get to that point in the journey and say here's a workaround, here's something we will do, here's a support feature that might help you. But if you're not quite there, if you don't have that level of visibility into, maybe, the data points that will give you those insights, or if you simply don't have the resources or bandwidth to proactively communicate that way, one of the things I would recommend is pay attention to what customers are indirectly telling you through their service and support requests. If you're seeing the same thing again and again and again, that's a great way to prioritize these proactive points in the journey. Maybe you can't solve the technology, maybe you can't overcome the legacy system that is creating that challenge for customers, but what can you do in that moment? You can certainly look to maybe being more proactive with your communication or proactively giving the support employees more information so that they can guide customers a little more proactively. Those are all must-haves and nice-to-haves.

Jeannie Walters:

Now let's talk about what I would not recommend for successful customer experience programs. One is simply ignoring customer feedback and I use the word ignoring, but it's really a bigger statement, because what we don't wanna do is gather all that feedback, make all those requests, gather all that feedback, make all those requests, get all that data and then basically just nod along and observe the data, not act on the data. If customers are taking the time to share their feedback, we have to respect that. That means using the insights gathered from that data to actually act on improving the customer experience and ultimately innovating around the customer journey for the future. If we are only collecting and reporting out internally about what our customers are telling us, we are wasting everyone's time. Absolutely not! If we can take that right approach. Look at what the data is telling us and come up with action plans to not only improve, but look to the future. That's what customers are asking us to do. So do not ignore customer feedback, whether you're not collecting it at all, or maybe you're just collecting it and not doing anything with it.

Jeannie Walters:

The other thing I would say is let's stop the over reliance on technology at the expense of humanity. I am a huge fan of automation and technology. I think artificial intelligence and large language models and all of these exciting things happening are really going to help human productivity. However, humans still need other humans, and so we have to make sure, when we make those decisions about the customer experience, that we are also considering what happens if. What happens if this automation goes awry? What happens if the customer still doesn't feel whole after getting an explanation from a chatbot? What happens if the customer goes from one channel to the next? If we don't consider those questions, then we're going to create even bigger problems for our customers and our employees.

Jeannie Walters:

Embrace technology, embrace what it can do for you, but not to the point where we ignore the human factors that all of us carry. After all, every customer is human and every employee is human. Now, we might have tools and automation and the support of the robots among us, but at the end of the day, whether you're B2B or B2C or anything else, we are still human beings and we need nuance and understanding and empathy. So let's not sacrifice that for, ultimately, automation. And finally, I would say we can't be neglectful of how important touch points are throughout the customer journey.

Jeannie Walters:

If you are looking at your customer journey as only those big moments and forgetting that those small decisions that customers have to make every step along the journey, if we're not looking at those as opportunities for improving the positivity that a customer feels towards our brand, for making their lives a little easier, for not ruining their days, then we're missing an opportunity that might be right in front of us. The organizations that do this well. They provide a lot more positive moments than those that don't, and that's because they're proactive and intentional about those moments. They don't neglect those micromoments along the journey. They embrace them and they say how can we make this a little better for the customer, a little easier, a little more delightful, maybe some humor involved. Whatever it is, we want to make sure that we are considering the customer at every step of the journey, including those small micromoments.

Jeannie Walters:

I love this question because sometimes people ask me do you have an industry that you specialize in? And while we've certainly done a lot of work in certain industries more than others, whenever we are introduced to a new industry, one of the things I love is that these principles hold true. There are aspects to managing the customer experience in an intentional and proactive way that are true no matter the size of the organization, the leadership, the industry you name it, and so I hope that all of you can take these ideas and apply it to your organization. If we really look at this as a mission, then we are in the mission of creating better experiences for the humans among us, and I can't think of anything that is more exciting to be a part of. So thank you for being here with us, thank you for listening, thank you for your reviews and your referrals to others.

Jeannie Walters:

We love when others find this podcast thanks to your kind words and, as always, if you have more questions, we're going to do our best to bring you the answers. Leave me a voicemail at askjeannie. vip. Thanks for all you're doing and I will see you next time on the Experience Action Podcast. To learn more about our strategic approach to experience, check out free resources at experienceinvestigators. com, where you can sign up for our newsletter, our Year of CX program and more, and please follow me, Jeannie Walters, on LinkedIn.