Design is a key differentiator when creating products and customer experiences. While price matters, it is not the only criteria and sometimes irrelevant when making purchase decisions. As an example, I recently bought Continue reading “Design Is A Competitive Differentiator”
If you are ready to signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your intention to be part of its leadership ranks, it’s time to work on earning your internationally recognized Certified Customer Experience Professional certification.
Doing so makes you a part of an elite group of certified CX professionals who lead the way in customer experience innovation and action.
The Basics of the Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) Certification Continue reading “Let’s get you certified as a CX professional!”
Two weeks ago we urged you to find CX problems and fix them instead of diagnosing and mapping them. That is Continue reading “CX Skills Builder: How Can You Get the Budget If You Can’t Articulate Your Value to Executives?”
One of the reasons we launched our blog is to build a community of people who are passionate about Learning and DoingCXRight. While we have been writing articles weekly from our perspective, as we “live and breathe” CX in our jobs every day at Verizon and JetBlue, we know there is tremendous value in hearing other professional views too. That is why we are excited to announce the upcoming launch of CXCoffeeTalk, where we will feature interviews with CX professionals and Customer Experience authors across different industries. They will share expertise on important topics such as:
- Where should CX sit in an organization?
- What are essential customer experience skills for a career in CX?
- What are the ideal ways to measure CX?
- And more on how to do CXRight.
Don’t miss out on valuable knowledge sharing. Sign up to get updates on our official launch of CXCoffeeTalk as well as receive ongoing ‘How To’ tips on DoingCXRight delivered to your email inbox.
Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in. Often, there is another scenario that is equally sub-optimal for your career development. You might be working on customer experience without recognizing it. The trouble with that is that you cannot sell your transferable skills when you don’t know that you have them. Continue reading “CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It”
It is not a coincidence that innovative companies like Disney, Apple, Zappos, and Amazon are leading brands. They share in common a priority on creating exceptional experiences and ensuring satisfaction at every point of the customer journey. They also Continue reading “Top Traits of Customer Experience Leaders”
Often, CX professionals do not believe they impact CX design and experience for their customers. Why? What is the cause of this disconnect?
A month ago, I got a call from an acquaintance saying that her mom got the loyalty points for flying to her destination on an airline carrier, but not coming back. When she called the carrier, the person on the phone told her that since the booking was not made via the airline website, they could not find her reservation and help her.
Who is responsible for this bad customer experience? More importantly, who has the power, skills and authority to fix it? The answer is easy. All. Of. Us. Who do customers perceive as the person responsible to fix their customer experience problems? The Customer Experience Director. I realized this, pointedly, when my acquaintance reached out to me.
In this example, typical of airline industry providers, it is true that we cannot find a reservation that has been made on another channel. It is true that our systems can be better integrated, more CRM-enabled, and easier to work with. It is also true that despite existing limitations, many professionals across the organization can do something to improve the customer experience in a case like this one.
The person on the phone can come up with a creative way to find the customer reservation using another tool. The person in charge of partnerships can work on a better integration with other booking channels. The person managing the points tool can enhance the tool so that every customer shows the last 2 flights, regardless of where that customer booked those flights. The list of can-dos and should-dos goes on and on. Yet, these customer experience professionals do not see themselves as owning the customer experience, nor do they feel accountable to do something to improve the customer experience.
To change that, it is imperative to shift the culture in the mindset of customer experience professionals at all levels. This is very difficult to do.
Even the CX professionals who own the customer experience on paper frequently do not feel empowered to have a real impact. They do not recognize that something as simple as the example above can become a successful project in their portfolio. Instead, customer experience professionals journey map and look at holistic pictures, often without implementing or designing for real changes to the customer experience.
It almost feels like CX professionals have an identity crisis that prevents them from acting with impact. This may be because some are afraid of angering the operation, and so take a more passive approach. A passive approach does not advance the cause of customer experience design, nor does it make it easier to make real changes and to be heard at the table next time. Customer Experience professionals need a portfolio of changes to gain legitimacy in their organizations. The best way to do that is to find a seam in the experience and fix problems. No matter how small a problem may be, fix it. Don’t just document it, communicate it and assess it. Fix it!
It is okay to jump in and fix the customer experience because this IS your job as a CX professional. At the end of the day, if you are not fixing things you really aren’t doing your job. Own the customer experience. Be Brave. And you will see how much your internal brand will grow, and you will watch the operation start to come to you for solutions they know will work.
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Before we begin talking about where CX should sit in the organization, I want to clarify one thing. Customer Experience is not a single person.
A company cannot hire one customer experience professional and expect that in a year that company will have a customer-centric corporate culture in place. CX also is not a team that has no visibility and no budget. No one has ever heard of a business successful transformation without extensive change management implications done and without vision and strategy. CX requires individuals and teams with cross functional workshops, new products and processes and heavy communications across the organization.
A CX team needs the leadership support to deliver all of those to the brand and the organization. So where in the organization should CX sit? Leadership teams across industries and geographies are trying different suboptimal approaches.
Last year a non-profit health insurance company in New York approached me to ask for feedback on their CX set up. They were planning to set the CX team under the CIO. Since the corporate staff was not big, the role of CX would have been fairly elevated. Still, I advised against that organizational structure.
A customer experience transformation cannot be led by IT for several reasons. Although the world today is more and more digital, brands still are in the business of making the human, long lasting connection with the customers that will drive more sales. Our IT partners are excellent at executing a program and can definitely help with the UX part of the job, but they are not marketers or operators. Asking IT to drive CX is just not the right choice. There is no doubt that CX cannot exist without IT. But that does not mean IT needs to lead it.
Marketing (or in some organizations “product”) is the most common set up for CX in brands’ corporate organizations. Media and consumer goods companies usually take this approach. At first look it makes sense to set CX in marketing. After all the purpose of CX is to deliver on the brand promises made by marketing.
This could almost work if brands did not bury my CX peers deep down in the organization so they turn into journey mapping documentation gatherers with no real impact. One fast food brand in Europe actually had the role of Head of Brand Engagement under the CMO and then had four other leaders reporting to that role, one of which was the CX Director. That CX Director was competing with the other three directors with similar roles for a piece of the authority pie. This is equivalent to giving somebody a problem to solve with no tools to do so.
One Financial Services institution in the US had arguably the least impactful set up. They actually put CX under HR! Please, do not mix customer experience with HR. I know that we all talk about the importance of employee engagement to the successful delivery of exceptional brand experiences. Although happy employees and customer-centric culture are requirements for a CX driven organization, CX is much more than that.
For a CX group to have impact and drive change, it needs to be in the customer facing part of the organization. The CX professionals need access to the customer to learn what is working and what is not. They need access to the operations to change processes and procedures. Lastly, CX professionals need tools like IT and Marketing to deliver new solutions and communicate those solutions to the customer. HR offers none of those enablers to a CX transformation.
An organization that is really committed to putting the customer at its center will build (reorg) the governance structure to reflect that commitment. That means having a Customer Experience Executive that has all the customer facing divisions under him/her and funding this organization appropriately.
If that means taking funding from other parts of the organization, so be it. As a brand this signals to both the investors and the employees that a real shift of the corporate mindset is taking place. With that set up, customers also will feel the change and will reciprocate with their loyalty. To do CX right, that is the way to do it – not by hiring one person buried in the org with no seat at the table, just to check off a mark.
You finally got your big career break and you are leading a project that requires executive approval. Now what? Intuitively you know that this is a chance to make a first impression on the right people, but you have no idea how to approach this process. There is no set procedure and your leader can be good or bad at this, so going to your boss might not be the first right step. Where do you begin?
Overcommunicate – Know your audience
Begin by scheduling pre-briefings with each individual executive. Do not forget the Chief Counsel or the Chief HR Executive. When it comes to the Exec Crew, every function weighs equally. You never know who might help (or block) your business case. If you are asking for millions of dollars to build CX expertise in the enterprise, or to finally connect underlying systems that yield bad customer experience, you might find that the Chief HR executive is so passionate about customer experience that he/she is the loudest voice in the room.
Your job does not end here. You also need to assess the political capital of each executive. Who has been on the team the longest? Who has the strongest ties to the Board of Directors? The networking power of leaders can be stronger than the hierarchy of power. It is invisible, but it cannot be underestimated.
Nothing is decided in the executive meeting/board room
The moment you realize this you will increase your success of obtaining funding for CX initiatives. You also will realize how much more work you have ahead of you to put the CX roadmap on your organization’s priority list.
The executive meeting is the ink meeting. It is the show. The real approvals and conversations that you need take place before that meeting. If these conversations do not take place, nothing gets approved. Many times, I have peers bring business cases to the executive committee without “pre-socializing” them. In the meeting, they are asked various business and political questions that they are unable to answer and nothing gets accomplished. The best case scenario is to get that approval “pushed” to the next meeting. One thing is for sure: no money or support is gained that day.
Cover all your bases
Never underestimate the power of the VPs and Directors. If you think you only need to sell CX to an executive to introduce the customer as a mindset, you are very wrong. The first thing a good Executive does is turn to his VPs and Directors and say “What do you think about this?” If you have not sold your agenda to them, the conversation is over.
Think of this work as an election campaign. Assess the benefits of each stakeholder or group in your organization. If there are losers in the landscape who, by design, will hurt, you need to acknowledge that every chance you get, in public. And you must thank them for sacrificing themselves for the greater good.
Have the keys to the gate
The Executive Assistants must be your friends. All. of. them. I know it is basic, but somehow, people still fail to follow this principle. Access is everything. Without it you have no voice, no audience. Take care of them every holiday season. Even without an occasion. Just do it.
Getting executive buy-in is not easy, but it is not an impossible task. Remember: think like a CX expert, know your Customer, personalize your message, and express empathy when you deliver your pitch. People want the same things, regardless of the setting – to be heard, considered and respected. Remember this, and design your approach accordingly.
Every progressive brand today aspires to have more self-service. Very few implement self-service successfully. Self-service is a new tool to optimize a company’s workforce by removing transactions from the system. All industries are looking at self-service as a strategy of the future.
Hospitals, airlines, and hotels are installing kiosks to self check-in while grocery stores and taxi companies are implementing self-service check out with digital payment products. The list goes on and on. What differentiates a successful use of self-service as a building block of innovation from a failed implementation that adds more effort for the customer that leaves him/her angry and frustrated?
Successful self-service is self-sufficient. It enables customers to meet all their needs by themselves. If users can do only some of the steps of the whole process alone then self-service adds costs to the business, adds complexity and effort to the experience. For example, if a customer can print his/her food voucher when there is a delay, but cannot rebook him/herself (i.e. still needs to call customer service) then all the brand has accomplished is to add steps for the customer to get the same value he/she could have done before with ONLY a phone call.
Another thing to be aware of with self-service is what type of labor is optimized and what labor is part of the self-service solution. The business case of self-service might not work if the solution requires incremental (and expensive) IT resources while removing existing (and cheaper) unskilled resources. As Matthew Dixon says in : “[t]he challenge is not in getting today’s customer to try self-service. The challenge lies in getting today’s customer to avoid channel switching from self-service to a live phone call… the self-service battle isn’t about getting customers to go, it’s about getting them to stay.” It is important to launch the solution that solves all the needs of the customer before launching a technology solution to avoid getting the wrong results.
Design for 80% of the customer base, not the high touch 5% – 10%. The 5% base solution is more expensive and most probably will break the business case. Be ready for all the people who will question the design that will NOT cover 100% of the customers. Questions about the exceptions will keep coming up: “What is the customer does not have a credit card? What if the customer does not speak English? What if …?” The answer to all of them is: “They will go to the full service option at that touch point. They will not self-serve.” Be strong and keep the focus on the goals of self-service – to alleviate, not eliminate, the calls to the contact center; to allow the employees to offer a better service to those people who do not have a credit card and/or do not speak English. It is counterintuitive, but by not solving for them through self-service, we are building a better service for the exceptions as well.
Be brave! Some people will not like the self-service design. You will hear a lot of push back about de-humanizing the experience for the customers. Anjali Lai from Forrester studied the emotions of brand interactions (see below) and was able to show that there is no significant difference in the perception of the customers when they self-serve (from interacting with a live person).
What is more human? To have a human tell a customer that he/she is not able to solve the problem, because the process is not designed well or that they will be put on a brief call to speak to another person, or having self-service solutions that empower customers to create their own experiences in a personalized and independent way (without telling their names and confirmation numbers 2 or more times).
Self-service is an integral part of the future, but unless self-service is designed and executed in a strategic and empathetic manner it can drive more costs and complaints than savings and satisfaction. The basic value creation mandate is critical in this business strategy: unless self-service creates real value for the customer he/she will not embrace it.
So ask yourself, if you were the customer, would you gain anything from doing a task yourself vs. getting help from the company? As the company, do you gain anything by self-serving? Is it faster, easier or simpler? If you cannot answer yes to any of those questions, do not invest in self-service technology.
Delivering great customer experiences has become a top priority for many companies. Given the increased focus, employees with CX skills are in great demand. While on the job training and reading books provide great learnings, completing a formal education program can accelerate one’s knowledge. Earlier this year, I began exploring academic programs that would expand my understanding of CX best practices as well as provide an opportunity to meet people across different industries who have instituted successful customer-centric programs at their workplace. After evaluating different schools, I ended up attending Rutgers University. Having completed the course and received my certification recently, I can confidently recommend Rutgers for several reasons:
- The class content is very relevant and applicable. Students gain access to helpful tools and templates that they can bring back to their jobs to make an impact.
- Classes are taught by top executives and leaders with CX expertise. The speakers all share meaningful examples that reinforce various lessons around developing personas, journey maps, use cases, measurement, culture and more.
- The program offers much flexibility. People can take the course online or offline in a classroom setting.
- It is a real, university-backed program – not a seminar or conference.
If you are interested in learning more about my personal experience with the program, feel free to contact me at: email@example.com. If you have detailed questions about the course and want to sign up, visit Rutgers’s website: >here.
We got our readers a 20% discount off the total tuition cost for the CX course as well as three other courses: Cyber Security, Design Thinking, and Big Data. Simply join our free blog to grab the promo code to save during program registration. We look forward to hearing from you.
“When the student is ready, the master will appear.” – Unknown
People often ask me what experience they need to be a good fit for customer experience roles. When I spoke at NYU Stern recently, I was faced with the same questions. Students with varied backgrounds wanted to know if they were a good match for roles in my team.
Today, we go over the key skills that make you successful in a customer experience team, but keep in mind that you are in charge of your career and at selling yourself across disciplines and industries. Use this post as a guide, not as the sole source of your research.
Although this is a soft skill, I believe empathy is the most important one for the role of customer experience professional. You can have all the technical skills in the world, but if you cannot walk in the shoes of your customers (or employees) you will fail to recognize their needs or to design intuitive experiences.
Without empathy you are blind and deaf to the service world.
The logical question is how do I know I have empathy? Try online personality self-assessment tests. You can even go with Briggs Myers as a start. When you take these quizzes, remember to be honest with yourself. If you do not score high on empathy, that does not make you a bad person, though it may be a good sign you should pursue a career that does not focus on customer experience.
I am purposefully using the most generic marketing word in terms of roles and experiences here. Any type of marketing background helps make a successful customer experience professional. If you have marketing experience, that means you are aware of the notion of brand image, strategy and/or values.
Since these represent the guiding light for creating customer experiences that meet the promises made by the brand, you will be one step ahead of other candidates that must learn brand management thinking from the ground up as part of their customer experience job.
I could have used the term “process thinking” here, but again I am leaving it more open to allow more of you to think of the transferrable skills you possess and how those translate to a successful customer experience career.
In the customer experience world, we assess and redesign processes through journey mapping (sequentially documenting each transaction between the customer with the brand as they consume the company’s product or services). For this reason, you will see process improvement, mapping, thinking as requirements for customer experience roles.
Even if you do not have those specific skills listed on your resume, you can still apply for a customer experience position if you are a critical and analytical thinker. My experience transforming the budget management process in National Grid in my first role after college was not part of a continuous improvement role, but it accomplished the exact same goal.
A developer or an IT architect can absolutely become a customer experience professional! If you are empathetic and eager to be more customer-focused, I urge you to show your passion to your business stakeholders and work on transitioning to more customer-facing roles.
It may take time and the right partner on the business side, but the transition from IT to customer-facing roles is absolutely doable. I faced a similar challenge when I was trying to move from finance to marketing. It took time, but in the end, it happened. Having an individual from IT on a customer experience team is a great competitive advantage for a company. CX leaders who understand the cross-functional nature of integrated and memorable digital and in-person customer experiences will be open to welcoming an IT professional onto their team.
I told the NYU students that the customer experience professional role is a complex one that is exciting, and more challenging than many business roles. The cross-functional nature of the field, combined with the implied innovation and change management for success and impact require the customer experience team members to be comfortable with less formal structures than other career paths.
As customer experience professionals, we live in the gray with less overtly defined goals and objectives. We are entrepreneurs, change agents and disruptors. It can get lonely sometimes. But then again, show me a leaders who was not lonely at some point in his or her life.
Are you passionate about Customer Experience (CX)?
Are you confused about where to begin transforming your organization to be more customer-centric? Are you wondering if you should even do this transformation or if Customer Experience is just another buzz word that will disappear in a few years? Are you a start up that has reached a point where your sales representatives have become complaint agents, and you do not know how to scale to gain repeat happy customers?
If you have asked yourself these and related questions, then you have come to the right place. We are two thought leaders, who are passionate about everything CX and have much to share given over 15+ years of experience. (Learn about us >Here.) Our goal is to provide readers with relevant and actionable information, as well as foster a community for continued knowledge sharing.
While we don’t know where this journey will take us, we are committed to making a difference and excited to publicly launch today, October 3, 2017, also known National CX Day. We look forward to your feedback as “Voice of the Customer” matters in everything we do.