Customer Experience (or CX) is at the forefront of how B2C companies are competing and winning. B2B firms are waking up to the importance of CX, and many are on their transformation journey. However, Harvard Business Review outlines that many of these efforts fail for three key reasons:
- They are not designed with change or innovation in mind.
- They have “soft” metrics rather than real business goals.
- They move slowly and without purpose.
Failures of this nature run the risk of giving CX a bad reputation. In reality, these are failures of leadership. Based on SBI’s experience with successful CX transformation journeys by market-leading firms, this is what those teams have done to drive change successfully:
The Company Is Ready to Transform
Fundamentally, the three reasons listed in the HBR article can be distilled to a lack of cross-functional collaboration, and ultimately change management. In SBI’s Revenue Growth Maturity Model, we find that companies who are at a level 3 or higher have the capabilities to successfully undertake this transformation. These companies have evolved from project management to successful program management. Often, this includes the disciplined use of a change management methodology, such as ADKAR. The approach to successfully drive transformational change leverage significant components of John Kotter’s model from Leading Change continues to be relevant.
Engage the Full Organization
Teams that are closest to the customer (Sales, Customer Success, Support, etc.) clearly play a large role. But many times, the friction that customers feel is a result of other functions not displaying the same level of care and urgency. For example, a support team delaying a customer response because of a delay from a “back office” function. To successfully overcome this challenge, we must have top-level support of all functions. A CX transformation cannot be one of five initiatives for the team. The most successful transformations include CX as one or two initiatives for the year. The CX transformation team should report directly to the CEO, with his/her directs to ensure that needs are being prioritized. Using a Customer Experience Interlock Tool can help get the executive teams aligned, and help ensure that their direct reports collaborate effectively.
Focus on KPIs That Drive Revenue
A key area where the CX transformation team needs collaboration from the executive team is in how success would be measured. In our CX benchmarking article, we identify some of the leading indicators that should be tracked, as these ultimately drive revenue growth. If your team is not measuring these items, the best time to start is now, to establish a baseline and track program over time. For example, a post-interaction survey can provide rapid, actionable feedback on areas where your team can improve. These are often “hygiene” factors, such as slow or ineffective support, or complex billing that can cause customers to churn despite your commercial team’s best efforts.
Ultimately, new expansion (cross-sell or up-sell) opportunities indicates your company has earned the right to have those conversations. While these may reside on your sales or customer success dashboards, they are reflective of how your customers feel about your organization overall.
Much like a successful annual planning program if we choose to do everything, we choose to do nothing. We must have a good view of the Customer’s Journey so that we can inventory and prioritize our transformational bets. Companies that have completed successful transformations typically deploy one or more operating committees. These are teams of front-line leaders (i.e., they manage the teams that directly complete the work) and have a unique perspective on where processes break down and can be improved. Ultimately, the Executive Team will approve these decisions, but this pays several dividends as these teams:
- Are focused on the highest leverage changes which will ultimately drive the KPIs and revenue growth.
- Move quickly, as they are close to the work, and can launch prototypes and get real-time feedback.
- Front line employees become connected to the change; it’s not another initiative from corporate.
When deployed effectively, this approach creates quick wins. These wins build momentum and serve as the basis of the culture change that is needed to drive the CX transformation.
A successful CX transformation is necessary for firms to be market leaders, that is, those companies that grow revenue faster than their industry and competitors. Complete SBI’s Revenue Growth Diagnostic to see if your company is ready to start a Customer Experience Transformation. You can also download the Customer Experience Interlock Tool to help your organization keep your efforts aligned.