As 2020 closed out I started reflecting on the past 8-10 years of CX (customer experience) success and failures, and thought to myself, has nothing changed? Surely the discipline of CX has come a long way in the past decade, right? I began doing some non-scientific “research” to test my hypothesis that nothing’s changed. By non-scientific, I mean that I looked at published blogs, whitepapers, webinars, and most importantly checked in with my CX network friends.
My conclusion is that everything old is new again. The same three focus areas are just as critical today as they have been over the past decade. I have found published works that were done in 2016 and then republished again in 2019 with no changes. I still continue to refer to older articles with my clients (in my hardcopy files accumulated over the years - I’m old school, sorry) from Forrester and Temkin group (now XM institute) that continue to ring true. They talk about “future-proofing” CX, the impact of organizational changes at the executive level, and tracking ongoing business value.
Maybe the core areas will never change, both how we as CX professionals approach them and that current customer/employee expectations are ever-evolving. What follows is my current point of view on three critical areas, and, at the end of this blog, I invite you to help me with a more “scientific” approach to research the current state of CX.
Strategy, Culture, and Execution are the three crucial areas of CX.
Strategy: In order to be successful, you must have executive buy-in. I think that still holds true, but what may matter more is having an executive educated on the CX discipline and tying your strategy directly to what matters most to them (that’s what creates the buy-in). I believe no executive makes BAD decisions, but can occasionally make ill-informed decisions. It is our role as CX professionals to ensure they are educated and well-informed. That said, what keeps your executive up at night has absolutely changed over the years. Your CX strategy and executive buy-in need to adapt to the changes in the world to shift with your customer’s expectations and needs.
Culture: Culture has always been the cornerstone of a company’s success. We see memes about employees leaving bad bosses, we have coined the phrase EX (employee experience) to go along with CX, and re-focused on diversity. In the past, CX culture centered around those in CX roles only and then moved on to a popular opinion that CX was everyone’s role in a company. Changes in 2020 have caused us to look at empathy and the importance of human contact at critical moments of truth. As companies rushed to automate, some of humanity was lost. Midway through 2020, we saw companies that refocused on empathy and humanity for both employees and customers. They improved their CX, market share, and revenue. Although culture is not new there has been a much-needed improvement to its importance, thereby causing positive change.
Execution: Execution is my favorite (I grew up in operational roles). Flawless execution on poor strategy or inconsistent culture can both cause failure. When you have a great strategy but do not execute properly, failure is guaranteed. I don’t think that there have been many changes over the years to highlight the criticality of execution. I think it’s more about what is acceptable execution that has changed. We need to refocus on defining acceptable execution and ensure it is tied to strategy and culture.
Bottom line, everything old is new again. How we address it to ensure CX success remains to be seen.
I have teamed up with Farlinium to run a survey across the industry to better understand what roadblocks our peers are facing when realizing their CX program goals and visions. Please check out the link below to provide your feedback and be on the lookout for the results of our findings.