Digitalist Network // March 15 2018

Keep up or go down – why is CX everyone’s business?

We recently had a CX Leadership morning seminar which was also broadcasted on web. A month in and it has received a whopping 9000 views! Seems this event is worth paraphrasing, so to encapsulate the essentials, here’s my take:

1.From CX 1.0 to CX 2.0

Our own guy, Ville Österlund, opened up the day with some food for thought on how we should re-think our approach on customer experience in the first place. The classic school of thought sees customer experience purely as a process, not a leadership or vision type big agenda issue. This means the classic school is often reactive in nature, a constant fire-fighting mission to put out flames across the CX journey, and they are riddled with long customer call times, no-reply emails and many, many customer handovers until you get things done. These organizations monitor the symptoms and not the cause – thereby the KPI’s are waiting time, short call times – and not customers’ success.

The new school of thought sees CX as company-wide leadership issue where it offers point of differentiation and growth opportunities for the business, and thus, CX becomes a fundamental strategic issue. Often this challenges the contemporary views, since CX would no longer be “a function” or owned by certain individuals in a company silo but an entire philosophy on how the business builds everything from customer-up. Instead of targets, customers are treated co-creators with an active role in helping business to design better suited products and services, and CX titles play a vital role in the organization.

Customers are actually enticed to contact the company to have a conversation, and customer service plays an active role in all of this, turning trouble shooting sessions into actual conversations with customers. In this vision employees and customers share good experiences of the company on the social media and generate natural inbound. The KPIs look very different for these organizations; long call times can be a good sign and customer issues are resolved always on the spot by empowered staff members.


2.Prioritizing customer experience is imperative to the longevity of every business

So what does all this all have to do with your business? Essentially it boils down to survival. As consumers, we are spoiled with choice, and barriers to switch are low across many markets. On top of that, it is now consumers who are in control and both positive and, especially negative brand experiences that spread like wildfire on social media. For example, in the spring on 2018 United Airlines lost 1 billion in market cap after dragging a passenger wrongly out of a plane. Even if you manage to evade these catastrophic blunders, the inability to set the customer’s experience a priority is likely to lead to the gradual loss of business to a competitor who offers a more meaningful relationship.


3.CX is everything for public sector and NGOs too

Besides the capability of generating revenue in the long term, focus on customer experience could also come down to the question of legitimatizing an organization’s existence, if you happen to be working for an NGO or for the public sector. The Population Register Centre provides a great case example of this by building the web service that provides citizens with a convenient one-stop-shop for all their official needs, which very much takes away the pain of finding the right information and services in various life situations.


4.From “just ok” to meaningful experiences

Prioritizing customer experience is about differentiation and creating competitive advantage. Since the customers’ expectations are getting higher, the basic functionality of a product or a service has become a hygiene factor, and rarely serves as a differentiating element. Take for example mobile operators offering you uninterrupted calls or mobile internet. You take this for granted. The key is to shift focus from processes, products and features per se to understand how these contribute to the actual value delivered to a consumer. The question you need to think about is meaningfulness – are you making someone’s life more reliable, convenient, enjoyable or profitable?

To build meaningful experiences requires active customer listening and involvement. Take MPY, an ICT company as an example: their collaboration with customers on the actual customer value lead to a pivot which turned the new customer acquisition on 250% growth. The same goes for the Population Register Centre who brought along citizens from all walks of life to map and figure out the actual needs that the new web service would have to meet if it the service was to gain wider scale use.


5. Superior CX delivery necessitates a strategic shift from products to services

Customer experience is easy to dismiss as a “tick-in-the-box” exercise, a domain of a separate CX function, and fixing leaks in the delivery process as they emerge. To deliver meaningful customer experiences the whole organization needs to change and opt in and learn a new culture. This is not an overnight process and it needs to be high on the leadership agenda – otherwise it is likely to fail.


6.Start from building a meaningful people experience

Your customer experience equals your organization’s people experience. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to define your goal as an organization. Try to answer to the questions of 1) what value are you creating to your customers and 2) how should it make your people feel? If you can answer these questions you are on a right road. In the case of MPY, they realized that they are not just in the ICT outsourcing business – they are actually making hospitals to run on their IT networks or safeguarding emergency service centers to respond to calls – lifesaving stuff. This gives MPY’s people and their customers mutual respect and see their importance and role in the value chain. Another example is from Digitalist where we involved all staff to redefine our company values and how it is that we actually make our work meaningful with our customers. We put together E.P.I.C. values where each letter represents how we define ourselves, our work and customer value. As a next step we are now looking to build these into our processes and KPIs.


7.Successful transformation requires 360 data

Finally, as with any changes, instead of a gut feeling you need data and the right metrics in order to know what direction you are heading. With standard NPS measurement you can remove the obvious slack from the processes but taking it to the next level requires you to combine multiple data sources to create 360-degree view on what is happening within your organization and around you. Too often for example customer behavior data (CRM, ERP, GA etc.) and market research insights (qualitative / emotion based) sit in different silos or worse in different departments of your organization. By combining the different data sources, and having this “smart data” visualized can help you to see what is happening in different parts of the customer journey and build predictive models on your business.

Want to hear more? Here’s a link to the CXD Power Breakfast presentations (in Finnish).


Photos by Akatsuki Ryu

By Jaakko Hautanen, Insight Manager, Digitalist

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