The customer might always be right*, but as encouraged in our exploration of the relationship between customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX), the employee should always come first. On your journey to optimizing the customer experience, you can’t “pass go” without first empowering your team to make better decisions, providing the tools and training they need to make those decisions, and fostering the mindset and behaviors that spark loyalty and trust among customers.
Brand loyalty and trust, in particular, aren’t easily won, nor are they new concepts. If the coronavirus pandemic and other recent events have taught us anything, it’s that customers crave authenticity over virtue signaling, and tangible solutions over grand ideas.
Customers also value brands that value their own people: According to a recent Edelman Trust Barometer special report on brands spanning 12 different markets, 71% of customers say if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever. A whopping 90% of respondents want brands to do everything they can to protect the wellbeing and financial security of their employees and suppliers. B2B organizations need to step up to their CX game, too, if they want to compete in a post-COVID world and improve their average customer experience score, which hovers around 50%. These trends illustrate the significance of the CX feedback loop—employees are motivated to meet and exceed customer expectations when they’re empowered by their employer to do so, and customers bestow loyalty upon brands they feel fulfill this promise to their teams.
As you optimize your EX program and are confident that your people will be equipped and empowered to reach their full potential, it’s time to refocus your energy on reimagining the customer experience. CX transformation isn’t a once-and-done deal; it’s a journey that requires careful design and planning to execute. But this journey starts not with a technology, tool or transformation. Rather, it starts with orienting to the problem.
File this in the folder titled, “Easier Said Than Done.”
People don’t talk enough about problem orientation, perhaps because it seems like a pretty easy box to check. But in many cases, companies leap before they look, conflating one problem with another or completely overlooking the fact that they have a challenge with their customers or an opportunity with their employees to begin with.
But you’ll never solve a problem if you don’t understand its root cause, which is why it’s critical to put the time into identifying what the real need is. That’s what we mean when we say, orient to the problem: identify new opportunities to elevate, differentiate and improve experiences with your company, products, services and culture. While it can be challenging to find and orient to problems of which you are unaware—and also easy to start with the end-state first—here are a few easy ways to orient problems with individuals and teams, alike:
- Listen and Watch: It is understandable that we humans have a tendency to speak first. We are encouraged to share our voice and also incented through recognition of compensation, title and recognition to be the first mover. At Navigate, we think that starting with observation, insight and understanding creates more opportunity to…
- Start With Why: “It’s gotta be fast. Likely should be an app. Oh, and it must surprise and delight…” Sound familiar? But before you worry about what and how and when, ensure you have a compelling reason to invest finite time, money and resources that answers the question of “why?” Evoking the “why” will help an organization stay true to the customers’ need while also driving focus for all teams involved in a product or program.
- Measure Twice, Cut Once: There is no worse feeling than missing the mark with sponsors, drivers or intent owners of your business. Alignment across key influencers (and ideally cross-functional alignment) should occur early and frequently through your CX programs, which will help to ensure understanding and recognition of both qualitative and quantitative outcomes of your efforts. It never feels good to be on the wrong side of the boardroom conversation from the movie “Big,” so validating expectations and alignment increases the likelihood of value for both your business and your customers.
Orienting to the problem you’re trying to solve and truly understanding its scope isn’t always glamorous work, but it is necessary work. It’s the foundation upon which all great products, services and solutions are built. And it is also the first milestone on your journey to transforming the customer experience.
*Well, maybe not always.