Three Steps to Excellent CX: Measure, Manage, and Improve
Delivering excellent CX (customer experiences) is imperative for businesses today. And while most companies would say they do just that, most customers beg to differ!
A 2022 white paper sponsored by Emplifi highlighted the importance of providing great CX and how far many companies are from achieving it. Their research showed, among other things, that:
- 87 percent of companies responding to the survey felt they provide excellent CX
- However, only 11% of customers agreed that companies do a fantastic job with CX
The divide between CX’s perceived delivery and customer expectations is clear and wide. There are many reasons for this divide. But a key issue is the plethora of CX improvement tools and no clear framework for using them. To name a few, we have predictive analytics, dashboards, digital surveys, feedback management, AI, etc. We get tangled in the tools without thinking about the desired outcomes of using a tool. It is essential to have a clear framework to define outcomes and determine which tools are most valuable.
Our firm has long had a tagline to describe our process to CX. It is quite simple—Measure, Manage, and Improve. I want to share what this means and the outcomes we have in mind.
Step 1, Measure
The primary outcome of this step is to determine where you stand with your customers. Measures (quantitative and qualitative) are essential to understanding how customers perceive your company.
In the B2B world where we work, a critical first outcome is getting the data right. Surprisingly, we often work with clients where essential customer information is missing or highly inaccurate. Getting more accurate information usually involves process and information system changes, something not easy to accomplish given the demands on most IT departments. Importantly, better information requires training to establish the discipline to get the correct information.
A second significant outcome is gathering sufficient information to know where you stand for your customers. In this step, we get customer feedback that provides performance measurements. The tools used to collect the feedback could be in email format, live interviews, text, kiosks, or other forms of feedback gathering.
Measuring is not only about collecting quantitative data. It includes qualitative as well. However, the numbers only score the CX game—The comments tell you how you are playing the game. Those comments, when adequately organized using a text analytics tool or plain, old-fashioned reading and categorizing, point you to both strengths and weaknesses in your CX. These comments are feedback “gold” is. Too often, it is overlooked in the race to get a number!
At the measuring stage, you want to tailor your feedback method to customers’ needs. Live interviews (phone calls) are still the gold standard in the B2B world for collecting customer feedback. But there are situations where digital modes are better suited for the customer’s needs and are more cost-effective.
Step 2, Manage
You have the feedback coming in. What do you do with it? There are several essential things to do at this point:
- When you contact a customer and ask for feedback, you set an expectation that you will respond. There will be feedback that requires immediate attention (e.g., a complaint, a sales opportunity, etc.). When customers provide urgent feedback, they want a response. If there is no response, customers soon grow tired of giving a response and stop. To illustrate this point, check out my blog, where I share two examples of companies that sought my feedback. One chose to respond, and the other did not.
- Not all customer feedback is negative. Most employees want to do a good job; having it recognized by a customer is pure motivational gold! Our system has a Good Jobs feature that notifies client managers when a customer calls out someone for doing a good job. It is valuable to acknowledge this customer feedback. More important is to share this information internally.
- Begin identifying the strengths and weaknesses in your CX delivery. Powerful analytics tools can significantly help identify the critical areas of focus.
- Focus first on the strengths of your CX delivery. In our experience, clients with the most effective CX improvement programs understand what they are doing well. Why? You must build on your CX strengths to have a strategically vital company. Where there are few or no strengths, trying to improve CX becomes a “fix it” exercise, akin to “whack a mole.”
- Focus on the areas that need help. Identify the locations/areas of the company that are underperforming. Use quantitative and qualitative information to identify improvement opportunities. Various quantitative and qualitative tools can be helpful. Also, customer journey mapping can be beneficial at this point. Creating a graphic map of the customer’s journey, coupled with the information gained from their feedback, helps to pinpoint opportunities.
Step 3, Improve
The Improve stage often trips people up. People sometimes assume that feedback gathered and analyzed provides self-evident solutions. But, in a few cases, are the solutions evident? In other cases, they pour resources such as extensive training into the mix with little consideration for what is needed to improve CX. Here are some alternatives:
- PROVIDE ONE-ON-ONE ASSISTANCE. Most managers want to perform well. They may not know what to do differently to make it happen. One-on-one assistance to the poor-performing areas is the best route to go.
- INDENTIFY BEST PRACTICES. Identify best practices within your company and share them with other areas. Chances of a change working in one company area are better if already working elsewhere. People can learn much from simple information-sharing practices
- MAKE CX IMPROVEMENT A CONTINOUS PROCESS. CX is analogous to a marathon race that never stops. Once you start identifying improvement opportunities, others appear. Also, customer expectations change over time, and you must stay up with them. Disciplined and connected CI/CX integration helps. Marty Yuzwa, Six Sigma Manager for Ohio Machinery, had the following observations about the importance of linking CI and CX:
- In traditional manufacturing organizations, Continuous Improvement programs like Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, and others are linked with quality improvement. Many tools help teams ensure processes produce the product right the first time. However, in Service companies and transactional processes, Quality is translated as Customer Experience, and processes are designed to get things right the first time and ensure Customers feel that their interactions are effortless and seamless. CI professionals in service companies must ensure that processes they improve not only optimize efficiency but also the customer experience as well.
- TELL YOUR CUSTOMERS. A big mistake many companies make is not telling their customers about their improvements. Market your CX improvements to your customers. After all, it helps customers in the long run.
I will be the first to admit that improving CX in any organization, large or small, is not an easy undertaking. It takes time and patience. So keep the Measure, Manage, and Improve steps in mind. We have found them helpful. If you have any comments, please email me.