retailciooutlook

CX Strategies: A Shot In The Dark?

By Waves Mowatt-Kane, Director, Customer Experience, Amtrak

Waves Mowatt-Kane, Director, Customer Experience, Amtrak

When trying to hit a target, the mantra is often “Ready, Aim, Fire.” But, in business, how do you know whether you have the right target in your sights? Discovering the right target can be more important than hitting the wrong one. As we look across customer experience (CX) strategies, there are some fundamentals CX practitioners, at all levels, sometimes fail to consider. In the haze of budgetary planning, shifts in cultural climates, and the presence of strong disruptors in the market, you may fire, aim, before you are ready.

Gaining Intel on Your Customers

Are you wondering how to improve your initial aim? Empathy is the first tenet of Design Thinking. Using empathy is your opportunity to seek a deeper understanding of your customer, which ultimately will move you closer to your target. As you walk in the shoes of your customer and develop your empathy map, consider the inclusion of the customer’s voice. Where does your empathy journey begin? It may begin by asking a diverse group of customers about their experiences with your firm. It sounds simple, but taking a multifaceted approach to gathering customer feedback is a must, and has become more challenging. This question is just the first step in your quest for the voice of the customer.

Monitor customer behaviors as well as their physical and virtual interactions. Both verbal and non-verbal exchanges can yield a much clearer target for which to aim. Our connected, socially conscious, highly vocal customers are really a gift. The answers are in the data. Listen to what your customers are telling you and make data-driven decisions. Let qualitative, quantitative, and social listening data be your guide to understanding your customer. Your CRM data can be your cornerstone for customer insights. The themes that appear will steady your hand and highlight opportunities. Higher value targets will present themselves overtime. The evolution of customer engagement has become more dynamic in an “always on” culture. More than ever, our customers are willing, even volunteering, to be our guides as we define our gaps in products and services. Capturing customer pain is not a new philosophy. However, what firms are doing with the knowledge of that pain continues to develop, as emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Augmented Reality (AR) take center stage for prototyping or customer testing.

"Empathy is the first tenet of Design Thinking. Using empathy is your opportunity to seek a deeper understanding of your customer"

Therefore, while looking out the window at our customers, it’s important to also look in the mirror at how our decision making models shape the future of our customer experiences. Qualifying your customer-driven targets requires a multidisciplinary view of each pain point as an opportunity to build profitable connections. The global marketplace now demands diversity of thought to design innovative customer solutions.

Designing Diversity

A diverse group of leaders often represents perspectives not considered by firms. For example, I was once asked why I invited law enforcement professionals to provide their insights surrounding the customer experience.

The invitation was by design. First responders usually see customers in a myriad of situations. They meet challenges that the average employee team does not face. They can be our champions or our advisors.

Therefore, as we build compelling products and a culture of safety and privacy; diverse perspectives like these are foundational. While looking into our proverbial mirrors, our internal teams may represent such groups as operations, marketing, legal, infrastructure, technology, customer care, and human resources; all of which can provide a richer measuring stick in which to score the merits of the proposed customer experience. Nevertheless, some resources still remain untapped.

Crowdsource Your Historians

The historians in your firm are the specialized group of employees whom have seen organizational challenges, and have walked through the worst and best of times. Often they have longevity but also keen insight to organizational politics and behaviors. The challenge for the CX Leader is to make sure Historians don’t poison your plan. However well-meaning, historians often manifest their fear of change by creating roadblocks in your path; building the historian relationship is tricky. However, the historian voice should be valued, and the foundation on which the firm will pivot successfully to the future.

One Team, One Mission

As you seek to collaborate with organizational leaders allow your brand architecture and customer promise to create your common language around Customer Experience initiatives. Your Brand Promise will act as a beacon and a lens by which you will align your corporate strategy and decisions. As your channel owners become a cadre of diverse perspectives, also known as a CX Council, collaboration on a unified CX scorecard is certainly central to your goal. Channel Owners need not leave their “channel-thinking” behind. However, they should be asked to use their channel expertise to take a broader view of the customer journey, facilitating seamless transitions from one channel to the next.

A balanced CX scorecard is your arrow by which you will determine your best targets. As each leader enters the CX Council team, they should be charged with the responsibility to “do no harm to the customer,” by finding the delicate balance between minimizing customer pain, positively impacting revenue, and honoring the brand promise. As a CX leader your challenge is to gain agreement that the scorecard criteria will continue to evolve and change as strategies, markets, and customer needs change. Therefore, the CX Council team membership should be flexible, rotating members in and out of the process over reasonable periods of time, giving no opportunity for fiefdoms to take hold.

Behind council doors, encourage candid and frank discourse. Train team members to look out the window and in the mirror, and make data driven decisions consistent with the core Brand Promise and CX Strategy. Our customers and partners are forever changing. Strategically we must navigate these shifts with our customers at the center. Over time the Council becomes the standard-barriers for CX strategy within the firm. Your CX scorecard becomes your rally point as the Council evolves. Council roles are coveted and honored, while fresh voices are continually encouraged. Your bow and arrow skills are honed over time, consistently improving your aim as the right targets come into sight.

Read Also

Three Ways through Retailers Can Step Their Game Up in 2017

Three Ways through Retailers Can Step Their Game Up in 2017

Fiona Swerdlow, VP, Research Director, Forrester Research
Hybrid Cloud Opens the Door to Retailer's Digital Transformation

Hybrid Cloud Opens the Door to Retailer's Digital Transformation

Vish Ganapathy, VP, Partner, IBM Industry Academy Member for Consumer Industries

Retail CRM Special