The future of CX isn’t what the customer sees on the outside, but what’s done organisationally and operationally internally.
The ambition to deliver great customer experiences is universal, eternal and often feels unattainable – no matter what you do, there is more to be done; no matter how on-trend you are, the next trend is already calling. Improving your CX capability is not the answer, writes Engine Transformation CEO Emma Robertson, it’s what you do next internally that will count.
Over time CX has gained importance and prominence within organisations – user interface design developed into UX, UX became UCD – and now we are all about the CX. Perhaps as a result of where it started, it has typically developed as a centre of excellence and the domain of practitioners, with the unintended consequence of becoming disconnected: a step in the process, a phase of work or a voice in the stand-up. And here-in lies the problem – CX becomes a link in the chain when it should be the chain.
The future of CX isn’t what the customer sees on the outside, but what’s done organisationally and operationally internally. The experiences companies deliver, and the way they behave must be aligned, and centred around the customer. Not less CX, but organisations should be prepared to compromise what we think of as a typical customer-facing change if it cannot be delivered upon consistently or aligned strategically.
CX needs to be put back in context – retaining all of that amazing practitioner expertise, but alongside the other elements that make up the formula for successful change – Brand, Culture & Organisation, Data, Strategy & Technology.
This is beyond an eco-system, it’s a formula. All the elements are connected, interdependent and in ratios relative to your context and ambition. For a government service the formula may be weighted towards technology, data and CX, whereas a multi-channel retail business may need to put more focus on brand, culture and strategy alongside CX. Every formula is different, but share common themes for success:
- Unique – amplifying what makes you different, not imitating your competitors
- Balanced – keeping ratios in check and avoiding one element sucking up resource to the detriment of the whole
- Connected – considered, planned and managed as an ecosystem
Considering CX within the formula, the opportunity is to move along the CX maturity curve and elevate from specialism to strategic imperative – making CX part of the DNA of your organisation, not a department within it.
There are 3 ways in which change internally can power experience externally:
1) Purpose Driven: differentiated & authentic experiences
CX disconnected from purpose can lead to excellent but generic experiences; purpose-led CX means amplifying what makes you different by focusing on CX, brand and culture together, and leaning into the emotional connections that turn experiences into relationships. This means:
- Purpose and vision maturity – clarity of purpose that cuts across channels, structures and teams to manifest in everything you do, not just the activity labelled “cx”
- Customer-centric balanced by brand-purpose – bring to life who you are as an organisation, not just a mirror to customer needs.
- Empowerment – share the CX vision and hold whole businesses accountable for delivering on brand experience and CX promise in every link in the chain.
2) Data Driven: from reporting to predicting
NPS and CSAT have turned insight into a board-level KPI, giving customer experience attention but not focus; highlighting what but not why – and always in the rear-view mirror.
Data driven CX requires change at organisational and strategic level – shifting emphasis from what just happened, to what will happen next by bringing CX and Data much closer together in operation. This means:
- Break the structural silos between customer data, customer insight & customer experience and find a new way of operating – huge potential and advantage at a time when most organisations do not connect them
- Upskill and open access: CX practitioners need to become data literate beyond research; democratise access to data, and develop skills in how to ask the right questions of it
3) People Driven: authentic & deliverable
Despite the proven link between EX and CX in delivering commercial and experience benefits, most organisations have lines of separation between the teams defining the experience, and the teams delivering it.
People driven CX means considering the entire user group with the same level of design thinking and delivering an authentic and purposeful CX through the organisation’s DNA. If you keep CX in balance with EX, it’s possible to deliver experiences that are authentic and consistent. You achieve this by:
- Keeping CX in balance with EX within the formula, move beyond 95% CX and 5% staff training to something more considered and holistic.
- Engaging the organisation often and early – emersion and engagement trumps training and tracking.
- Taking CX out of the CX team – upskill across all functions so that the vision can be delivered upon in a thousand different ways.
CX as part of the DNA of your organisation
CX needs to be thought of as part of the DNA of your organisation, not an experience layer on the surface. In 2021 this is more important than ever, as the considered consumer demands more of brands and services. Customers are looking for more connection and purpose, and frictionless alone is no longer enough (if it ever was). Meaningful, authentic and personal experiences require more than great CX – they need great businesses that are living and breathing the customer.
Emma Robertson is CEO at digital and data consultancy ENGINE Transformation.