Steps to realizing value from customer experience

Annual events serve as a handy milestone for checking progress, as well as an opportunity to dream about what’s yet to come.

Once such milestone occurred on October 6: CX (“customer experience”) Day 2015, a global celebration of the companies and professionals that create great experiences for their customers, hosted by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). Given that I’ve staked the most recent seven years of my career on customer experience, this seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the state of the CX world—its practitioners, its success stories, and its struggles.

Here’s my assessment. There’s still more talk about customer experience than action to shape it and benefit from it. And those companies that are “doing it” aren’t doing it very well. At a recent conference with more 100 CX colleagues, these were common themes: not enough budget and/or head count and little executive support. I’ve been hearing similar stories for years. So for me, CX Day felt like an inflection point; a time to commit to being polarizing and bold. A time to decide “to be or not to be”—in other words, to be one of those that transforms business through a compelling customer experience, or one of those that views customer experience as simply the latest business “fad.”

As you plan for 2016 and beyond, ask yourself this: Are we ready to join the “to be” camp? If so, here are a few suggestions for making it real.

  1. Work “on the diagonal.” This means working across your organization to break down silos. More importantly, it means being proactive in managing up and down. Find the rising stars in your company and encourage them to become involved in a grassroots exercise to promote a differentiated customer experience—and then deliver on it. Be relentless in advocating customer experience in discussions with your executives. Don’t look to “negotiate” with them. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  2. Be a contrarian. Aim to shake up the status quo. Figure out why the current business model fails customers today. Stir it up, and put customer experience at the center of your business model.
  3. Align with partners. To get more done in your organization, look for allies in momentous teams. We’ve seen in-house agencies, lean programs, employee and culture champions, and human resources all fuel the impact and reach of CX leadership.
  4. Have a big ask. Piecing together budgets and projects is not the way to bring about real change and impact. You’ll need to build your business case thoughtfully and secure funding that allows you to make a difference—a difference that customers feel and that drives the top line.

I believe the CX challenge will resolve itself one way or the other in the next two years. As CX practitioners and consumers, we have a chance to influence that outcome. Let’s dream big, perfect the craft of customer experience, and finally deliver on the promise.

For more information about how to take the next steps to transform your business through customer experience, please contact Kyle Hutchins.