Stopping the Stupid: Leveraging OKRs For Better CX Results

by | May 3, 2024 | AI, Technology and Tools, Company Culture & Employees | 0 comments

OKRs and Customer Experience: The Formula for ‘Stopping the Stupid’ and Achieving Customer Excellence

Throughout my career working in customer experience (CX), I’ve encountered countless organizations burdened by inefficient processes, unnecessary meetings, and activities that fail to create customer value. Anthony Coppedge,  Agile Digital Sales Leader at IBM, accurately explains this phenomenon as “the stupid.” During our conversation on my Doing CX Right Podcast episode 72, we talked about why eliminating wasteful practices is paramount for delivering truly exceptional customer experiences, and the value of OKRs as a means to consistently increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Wondering what is an OKR and how you can improve customer experiences for revenue growth? Then continue reading.

The Quest to “Stop the Stupid”

We’ve all been there – sitting in meetings that could have been an email, performing tasks that have no clear benefit, following antiquated processes that no longer make sense. There are only two paths for improvement: reducing downside (eliminating wasteful activities) or creating upside (optimizing value-adding work). By eliminating stupid tasks that don’t contribute to customer value, organizations free up vital resources to concentrate on what genuinely moves the needle.

Identifying Areas of Inefficiency

Before you can address inefficiencies, you need a clear understanding of what they look like within your organization. These might include redundant processes, outdated methods of customer communication, or poorly targeted service offerings.

How to Identify Inefficient Processes:

1. Customer Feedback Analysis: Regularly review customer feedback to pinpoint areas where your service may be lagging or misaligned with customer expectations.

2. Performance Metrics Review: Evaluate which activities lead to significant customer satisfaction and loyalty and which do not. Prioritize efforts that have the most substantial impact.  

3. Cross-Departmental Discussions: Encourage open dialogue between departments to understand different perspectives on what might constitute inefficient tasks.

Implementing Agile Methodologies to Eliminate Waste

Agile methodologies are not just for software development. When applied to CX, Agile can help organizations remain flexible and responsive, quickly discarding what does not work and enhancing what does.  

Agile Steps to Improve Customer Experience:

1. Iterative Improvement: Implement changes in small, manageable increments. Review progress and effect on customer experience at each stage before proceeding further.

2. Empower Teams: Allow frontline employees who interact with customers daily to suggest changes and improvements. They are often best placed to identify “stupid” processes.

3. Regular Retrospectives: Schedule frequent meetings where teams can discuss what’s working and what’s not. Use these retrospectives to decide on areas to stop or adjust.

Using OKRs to Hardwire Customer Centricity

An effective CX approach is based on using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as a goal-setting methodology. This approach ensures that an organization’s objectives are aligned with measurable results that impact customer success. By using OKRs, businesses can shift their focus from an inward-looking mentality to an outward customer-obsessed one.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) Explained

OKRs consist of two components – objectives and key results. Objectives articulate qualitative goals an organization aims to achieve, while key results are quantifiable metrics used to track progress towards those objectives. Let’s take a closer look at how OKRs can be used in different organizational contexts.

For small businesses or startups, OKRs can provide clarity and alignment across a lean team. By setting clear objectives and measurable key results, everyone in the team can understand what they are working towards and how they will be evaluatedThis can help to prioritize tasks, increase accountability, and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. For example, a small software company might set an objective to launch a new product within 6 months, with key results including a certain number of beta testers and positive user feedback.

For mid-sized companies, OKRs can unite multiple departments toward common customer-focused goals. As companies grow, it can become more challenging to ensure that everyone is working towards the same priorities. OKRs can help to align departments and teams so that everyone is working towards the same customer-centric objectives. For example, a mid-sized retailer might set an objective to increase online sales by 20%, with key results including a certain number of new website visitors, a higher conversion rate, and increased customer satisfaction scores.

Large enterprises can implement OKRs to ensure consistent customer-centric strategies across vast operations. With numerous departments and teams, it can be difficult for large organizations to maintain a cohesive strategyOKRs can help to create a unified approach to achieving customer-focused objectives, ensuring that everyone in the organization is working towards the same goals. For example, a large telecommunications company might set an objective to improve customer retention by 15%, with key results including a lower rate of customer churn, increased customer satisfaction scores, and improved product features.

In all cases, OKRs can help to provide clarity, alignment, and focus across the organization, ultimately leading to better results and a stronger business.

What OKRs are Not

  • A performance evaluation tool: OKRs should not be used for employee evaluations or compensation decisions. They are about aligning teams to achieve outcomes, not judging individual performance.
  • Dictated solely by leadership: While leadership provides guidance, OKRs are meant to be set collaboratively by teams closest to the customer experience realities.
  • Static, unchanging targets: OKRs should be regularly revisited and updated based on new data, insights, and evolving customer needs.
  • Short-term or output-focused: OKRs are long-term, outcome-oriented objectives, not short bursts focused solely on increasing outputs like number of product releases.

Utilizing OKRs to Focus on High-Value Activities

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) can be a powerful framework to ensure all company efforts are aligned with enhancing customer experience and service.

Setting OKRs for Better Customer Outcomes

The key to effective OKRs is ensuring that they are customer-centric and clearly measurable. Objectives should always aim to solve actual issues faced by customers or to enhance the customer journey fundamentally.

Effective OKRs Implementation:  

1. Define Clear Objectives: Objectives should be straightforward and focused on outcomes that benefit the customer (e.g., improve customer response time, increase customer satisfaction scores).

2. Identify Key Results: Key results should measure the success in achieving these objectives in a quantifiable way (e.g., reduce customer response time by 30%, achieve a customer satisfaction score of 90% or above).

3. Review and Adapt Regularly: Regularly review the effectiveness of your OKRs in improving customer experience. Be prepared to adjust them based on new insights and customer feedback.

Fostering an Agile, Customer-Obsessed Culture

While OKRs provide the “what” for customer-centered goals, Agile principles supply the “how” – working practices like rapid iteration, cross-functional collaboration, and proactive customer feedback loops. This potent combination fosters an environment where eliminating “the stupid” becomes an organizational obsession.

Agile empowers teams across functions to continuously challenge the status quo. They can rapidly experiment, prototype, and evolve solutions based on real user insights rather than internal assumptions. This unlocks sustained customer value creation and adaptation to shifting needs and market forces.

Cultivating an Organizational Mindset around CX

The transformation transcends methodologies and tools. It involves fostering a company-wide mindset that values customer satisfaction over internal convenience.

Building a Customer-Centric Culture  

– Continuous Learning: Encourage a learning culture where feedback is routinely solicited and acted upon.

– Employee Empowerment: Enable employees to make decisions that enhance customer satisfaction without always seeking approval from higher-ups.  

– Leadership Example: Leaders should model focusing on customer-centric decisions and eliminating inefficient practices.

Putting “Stop the Stupid” into Action

By adopting these actionable strategies and incorporating principles of Agile and OKRs, your organization can effectively “stop the stupid” and refocus efforts on processes and initiatives that truly enhance customer experience.

1. Prioritize Customer-Centric Outcomes: Define and measure outcomes like customer satisfaction and lifetime value to ensure all actions contribute meaningfully to customer success.

2. Implement Agile and OKRs in Tandem: Utilize OKRs alongside agile methods to align teams, quickly adapt to feedback, and prioritize customer goals.

3. Eliminate Low-Value Activities: Embrace “stopping the stupid” by identifying and removing tasks that drain resources without enhancing the customer experience.

4. Foster Transparency and Trust: Create an environment of psychological safety for honest feedback and collaborative decision-making to improve service.

5. Proactively Seek Customer InsightsActively listen to the experiences of partners and end-users to optimize processes and better meet customer needs.

This customer-obsessed transformation is about more than just operational streamlining. It redefines a company’s purpose as partnering with customers in mutual value creation.

Remember: Doing the right thing is treating the customer right. You want to value them, not just get value from them.

In our experience economy, that level of customer obsession bred from “stopping the stupid” is vital for long-term success and competitive differentiation. Aligning through OKRs, applying agile, and cultivating a stupidity-eliminating culture unlocks powerful customer loyalty.

I encourage you to listen to my Doing CX Right Podcast episode 72 featuring Anthony Coppedge so that you can “Stop The Stupid” and leverage OKRs and Agile methodologies to as your brand differentiator.

If you have questions, please contact me any time and subscribe to Doing CX Right newsletter for a lot more helpful resources.

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*All views expressed are Stacys and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

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