Haste makes waste, as the saying goes, and that waste is often due to mistakes made in the rush to realize your customer experience strategy as soon as possible. While customer experience (CX) transformation is an urgent matter, a CX strategy without direction guarantees pitfalls.
According to Forrester Research, a focus on CX is a must in the age of the customer. Most brands, however, are lagging as empowered customers are more willing than ever to try new brands and quickly discard others. It recommends making the business case for CX improvements to the C-suite executives with a focus on three key elements: urgency, impact and direction.
But while urgency and impact are important, having thoughtful direction is just as important.
If you're a business leader looking to deliver a more seamless customer experience, here are the most common CX transformation strategy mistakes you should avoid.
Mistake 1: Letting the “HiPPOs” direct the CX strategy
Many organizations make the mistake of letting the “highest-paid person’s opinion” (HiPPO) inform CX transformation priorities. These “HiPPOs” include the CEO and other senior management, who are more likely to base their CX strategy on their gut and personal experience rather than the underlying data, according to Forrester.
CX pros armed with customer insight must be ready to challenge directives from HiPPOs and advocate for projects that deliver the most impact to the customer and the business.
Mistake 2: Confusing customer satisfaction with customer experience
It’s not enough to know the customer is happy. You need to understand why the customer is happy.
“Satisfaction is an end product. Like a batting average, it tells you how you did, but not how to swing and hit better,” write Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O'Connell, authors of Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight. “Satisfaction is backward-looking. It doesn't correlate to future behavior.” They recommend constructing a program to examine past, present and potential ways to delight customers.
It’s also important to identify specific customer pain points and fix them, as even little irritants can escalate, write Stewart and O’Connell. If you get these “make or break moments” right, you generate the goodwill the fuels long-term relationships with customers.
Mistake 3: No real vision
According to McKinsey, CX transformations require employees to change their mind-sets and behaviors. The organization must make cultural changes and rewire itself across functions to put the voice of the customer top of mind. Unfortunately, managers embark on CX transformation with no real vision and end up with vague targets because there’s an underlying fear of failure.
“Great organizations instead spend significant time up front to define a clear, compelling, personal and ambitious aspiration, which doesn’t necessarily involve becoming a customer-experience leader,” write McKinsey’s Ewan Duncan, Kevin Neher and Sarah Ray. “Depending on the context, it may make sense for a company to aim at having a best-in-class customer experience or to improve the baseline but not invest in a full transformation.”
Mistake 4: Focusing on too many things
As with any endeavor, boiling the ocean by trying to transform everything at once is not the hallmark of a viable CX strategy.
This “heedlessness,” notes McKinsey & Company, leads to organizations spending significant time and money on things that ultimately don’t matter to customers.
“Successful transformations tend to start with a rigorous attempt to identify those things that matter most to customers,” write Duncan, Neher and Tucker-Ray. “Such efforts establish a clear understanding of where improvements in the customer experience can create value across the organization—financial returns, operational efficiencies, and improved employee engagement and outcomes.”
McKinsey recommends measuring customer journeys instead of touchpoints and analyzing which journeys are most important for overall satisfaction. These methods enable companies to take a targeted, hypothesis-driven approach to CX transformation.
Mistake 5: Mistaking process automation as CX
Throwing technology at a problem rarely works.
One example, according to Gartner’s Greg Alvarez, is mobile apps, many of which are aimed at improving the experience but end up pushing people away. These apps rarely improve the customers’ lives. Often, these apps are deployed without answering key questions, such as what kind of experience the organization wants to deliver to customers.
Similarly, process automation “only works if it drives down costs for the customer or eases their lives.” If they don’t see it as valuable and it doesn’t change their experience, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Mistake 6: Taking out the “human” out of the equation
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have the potential to improve CX but can easily end up in the category of throwing technology at the problem. Often, these technologies are mistaken for being a good substitute for human interaction.
Gartner VP Michael Maoz says companies looking to automate their CX with AI or machine learning are unlikely to deliver the seamless, post-channel CX experiences customers want. Instead of replacing people, organizations should use bots and AI to facilitate the human delivery of better CX. These could include helping with non-complex tasks to free up human agents to build relationships.
Mistake 7: Ignoring the role and feedback of employees in the process
Bad CX is a culture problem, not a technology problem, so ignoring the role of your workforce is a big mistake. Most companies are failing at this challenge, according to the data company Gallup, which found that only 31.5 percent of the U.S. workforce consider itself engaged in work.
A growing body of research shows that an engaged workforce may be the key to better customer experience. As part of your CX strategy, you need to rethink the use of traditional employee engagement tactics and look for methods that allow for a two-way conversation with your team. For employee engagement to help drive customer experience, getting feedback from your own people should be part of the culture. More importantly, you need to make sure that the employee experience itself is superb.
CX transformation must be thoughtful
When it comes to your CX strategy, bear in mend the adage “measure twice, cut once.” While you need a sense of urgency around CX transformation, rushing into new territory will lead to stumbles that can be avoided with some forethought and vision. By putting the customer first and letting their needs change your culture at all levels of the organization, your CX transformation will bear fruit in the long run.