I’ve always liked history and interesting conversations. This was enough to make “history teacher” feature prominently on my list of dream jobs up until 10th grade. It never happened, but teaching remained as something I always wanted to try.
Needless to say, when the opportunity arose to teach a module of the Intelligent Marketing course at Kürt Academy, I said yes. Not quite history teaching, but close enough.
I prepared a lot of content for the 4-hour slot. A lot. I had done a number of speeches and presentations before, but it turns out a half-day session is a very different format. In hindsight, leaving complex omnichannel customer journey visualizations to the very end was no masterstroke. The key takeaway for planning something like this never gets old: when in doubt, cover less topics with more interactive exercises.
In spite of the information overload, the topic was interesting: customer experience boost through culture change. The first time I worked on customer experience topics in a large organization was at Vodafone back in 2012. I remember the difficulty of isolating what exactly a customer experience team should work on and more fundamentally, whether such a team is needed at all. Not much has changed since then.
In essence, customer experience is the sum total of everything a customer perceives in connection to a certain brand / product / company across all touchpoints over time.
If everything is part of customer experience, it can be challenging to split it out from areas such as marketing, product development, systems, etc. A customer centric mindset needs to pervade all organizations, but whether this means CX teams, CX evangelists within teams or simply a set of rules and customs within the business to help guide everyone is up for discussion. Which is where culture comes in. Culture is defined by how people think and act within a unit and is exceedingly difficult to change.
A good first step is knowing what needs to change, otherwise progress will be difficult to gauge. Quantitative tracking needs to be put in place for both customer experience performance and culture change. If hard data is available, great, if not, go for the good old surveys — imperfect but typically imperfect in a consistent way, which allows for delta to be measured over time.
Let me close out by sharing some of the pitfalls of running successful customer experience programs:
- N=1: customer centricity is important but needs structure. Getting hung up on isolated feedback or frontline experiences without context can drive efforts off track
- No budget: customer experience mindset needs to flow into budget allocation, otherwise it will remain on the sidelines with no impact on how the business is run day-to-day
- No link to commercial impact: over time, the link between customer experience metrics and commercial metrics needs to be clear and transparent across the business. The impacted business KPIs can be long term (think churn reduction, life time value) but cannot be missing. When push comes to shove, commercial initiatives tend to survive, others not so much
Avoid these and you have a better chance of making sure happy customers truly mean a more successful business. And when it comes to culture change, remember: the key is in the nitty gritty details and above all, consistency.