Material has been helping clients avoid roadblocks and create successful customer experience strategies for almost two decades, so we’ve had plenty of opportunities to observe what works and what doesn’t. In this post — the first in a five-part series highlighting effective ways to inspire your employees to make change — we’ll explore how to lay the groundwork for a compelling customer experience transformation.
Define your customer experience strategy within your larger business strategy
When launching any new customer experience initiatives or strengthening existing ones, it’s key to first align on how CX fits into your larger business strategy. Improving CX shouldn’t be a standalone goal, but should instead include broader business objectives such as customer retention or wallet share. If your organization is non-profit, mission-focused objectives such as medical treatment efficacy or the social impact of nonprofit work might be more important to highlight. Whatever your overarching objective, it’s important to effectively communicate to your stakeholders what customer experience stands for in your organization.
Understand your organization’s history
You’re not starting with a blank slate, of course, so in order to understand the best path forward you’ll need to go beyond a general understanding of your organization and really dig deep into your stakeholders’ perceptions and experiences. We’ve observed that internal teams often overestimate their institutional knowledge, so revamping your customer experience strategy will reveal any knowledge gaps and allow you to patch them up.
Change can be scary, however, and you don’t want employees to feel that their work to date has fallen short. To motivate your team and get them excited about new initiatives, sit down with key team members, highlight previous successes, and communicate your appreciation for past work. You’re much less likely to encounter resistance when everyone feels heard and valued.
Identify barriers to customer experience transformation
As you’re talking with stakeholders and reviewing past work, pay attention to both the successes and frustrations that emerge in discussion. You might be surprised to learn that the most insidious barriers to change are the “cynical voices” within your organization.
For example, a team might equate customer experience with another major initiative that failed in the past: “Oh man, this sounds like HR transformation all over again.” Or perhaps employees feel strongly that nothing more needs to be done: “We’re bending over backwards for customers already!” Or it could be an expression of strategy fatigue: “This is our third corporate strategy in two years. I’ll just wait it out.”
Whatever form it takes, cynicism will kill your customer experience strategy, so address it early.
Align your organization to actively support the journey ahead
We recommend a dedicated management team alignment meeting to officially kick off any new initiatives. You can use this session to:
- Establish a baseline understanding and common language around customer experience
- Acknowledge the past and demonstrate that you appreciate the context in which you’re operating
- Make sure key players understand the path forward and what’s expected from them at each step
We also encourage you to wrap up alignment meetings with a formal confirmation of support (either written or verbal) to cement stakeholder buy-in.
Bring your customer experience goals to life
Even the best CX strategy development or customer journey mapping workshop won’t be successful without organizational alignment and a shared vision for the future. So start your CX strategy three steps ahead with a solid understanding of the past, a keen eye for barriers, and an explicitly aligned management team. You’ll be glad you did.
In our next blog in this series, we’ll explore how you can use research to understand the current state of CX in your organization.