The litmus test for any CX vision is the ability to make it work in the real world.
We’re seeing a shift happening in the world of CX. In our advisory services practice, the conversations we’re having about contact center transformation in recent months seem to be revolving less around the “why” of digitalization. Instead they increasingly hone in on “how”, i.e. how can large customer organizations – who’ve got a dozen things to sort out simultaneously – make CX transformation work in a way that makes sense for their customers, for their brand, and for their operations, and integrate it with their product or service processes.
And you’d be surprised how quickly the visionary scenarios of the tech vendors crumble when it’s time to roll up your sleeves and see the project through to the end. The result among our customers: vision fatigue – i.e. too much vision, not enough thought given to execution in the real world. That’s what this blog post is about.
But first, I do need to say a few words about the “why” – because it’s an important part of the bigger picture. Most of the companies we deal with agree that transformation needs to happen; but their reasons for tackling such a project vary. Here’s a quick (non-comprehensive!) round-up of triggers that may make businesses rethink their CX strategy:
- Customer satisfaction: People complaining (e.g. on social media) about inadequate service or unsolved problems; the desire to meet customers’ high expectations
- Inefficient operations: High cost of service; a large number of customer care agents; processes with lots of manual steps; long handling times; and the like
- Growing awareness of CX as a discipline: Brands recognizing that CX is bigger than the contact center – and needs to extend to the entire customer lifecycle
- Customer data silos: No ability to internally share information about customers, product usage, innovation opportunities etc.
- High attrition: Customer service employees disengaging because they feel their job is unrewarding. Clunky tech and outdated processes stopping them from being able to help customers.
CX visions need to translate into realistic roadmaps
So far, so good. It all sounds rather rational, doesn’t it? I believe that’s exactly where the problem lies.
Let me explain: While your reasons for transforming CX may be well-founded and rational, the process of effecting change in a large organization is seldom logical, or straightforward. And no two businesses are the same in terms of the obstacles to change you might encounter. We’ve seen quite a few of them. For instance:
- Competing digital projects, all scrambling for attention and fighting for priority
- An IT department booked up until March in two years’ time
- CX-blind CFOs firmly clutching the purse-strings, not prioritizing CX
- Customer service associates simultaneously wishing for automation and being afraid of redundancies
- Existing investments in CX that need to be leveraged – even though the tech may be less than ideal
- Good old, general resistance to change
There’s a lot more, but these examples hopefully suffice to make my point: unless your approach to CX transformation acknowledges the obstacles that exist in any normal business and yours specifically – and has a plan for overcoming them – your vision will remain just that: a model of an ideal future state, with little chance of ever being realized in its entirety.
It’s time for CX realism
Don’t get me wrong: I’m decidedly not against a bold vision, and I’m definitely not advocating that brands “settle for less”. What I am saying is that the best CX transformation programs I’ve seen were the ones that took potential pitfalls into account and built their roadmaps accordingly. They did things like:
- Managing risk: Starting with a PoC on a non-critical process, and iterating until they had a robust model; then gradually scaling and expanding from there
- Presenting ROI across multiple dimensions: Addressing different KPIs to satisfy the various stakeholders, from cost and NPS to employee experience and BI capabilities
- Being realistic about technology: Configuring a tech stack that complements what they already have – selected to support priority business goals (which may mean foregoing the latest tech hype)
- Basing new processes on actual customer data: Using real-life scenarios for CX improvement
- Communicating change proactively: Planning in early announcements about the proposed initiatives and transparent comms for anyone whose job is affected
- Making a plan for employees’ futures: Whether that means additional training and upskilling, or transitioning to another employer
- Being accountable for outcomes: Devising a program that doesn’t just commit to delivering technology, but to the metrics and business goals it’s aligned to (and tweaking it until it does)
It seems so no-nonsense when you write it down – and maybe it all sounds a little less sexy than a CX vision with a “big reveal”. But I can promise you, when it comes to lasting CX change, most of my customers will take a tried-and-tested approach over a flimsy vision any day. Especially if it can deal with the hiccups, detours, and re-starts that our organizations tend to throw our way.
If you’d like to learn more about Realism in CX strategy, you might like the content hub we’ve put together. And do keep checking back. We’re updating it regularly with:
- Useful insights on technology, and change management
- Actionable advice for CX champions
- War stories from the coalface of CX change