Since the pandemic began, organizations have faced a decade’s worth of digital transformation compressed into just under two years. These changes have been supercharged by the frequency and power of changing customer preferences — but they’ve also exposed some weaknesses in the technologies companies are using and in their digital strategies and culture when it comes to customer experience.
Last month, I spoke with a group of CX veterans about How CX Professionals are Breaking Down Silos and Getting Investment. I hopped on a call with Megan Germann, Senior Lead, Customer Experience Analytics & Insights at Lumen Technologies; Lewis Taylor, VP, CX Services at Cisco; and Lawrence Levinson, Director & GM, Wave Advisors. It was a fascinating conversation about the innovative ways CX leaders are measuring and driving change within their companies in this era of digital transformation. In this post, I’ll share with you the highlights from our conversation.
Top 5 takeaways
1. CX is not customer service or customer success on steroids
Lawrence Levinson thinks of CX as the 30,000-foot view of a customer’s overall experience with a brand. It encompasses not just their interactions with a company, but their emotional impressions of those interactions. Lewis Taylor agrees. “It’s an end-to-end view of a customer’s journey as they’re engaged with you,” he says. “And it’s our job as customer experience experts to make it an emotional connection, where customers are not just tied to the service or the product, but they’re also tied to that experience that they have with you.”
2. The CX journey starts with culture change at home
As companies shift their focus to customer experience, Megan Germann says the journey requires alignment from key stakeholders across the organization to ensure everyone is on the same team, working toward the same goal. “When we hear in all-hands meetings, ‘What’s the benefit to the customer?’ then we know that we are really getting that top-down buy-in,” she says. But you also need buy-in from internal-facing teams, like IT, HR, and payroll, says Levinson. “These are the not-so-obvious groups within an organization who have a disproportionate effect on the overall culture,” he says. “If you don't start there with ‘what does it mean to a payroll administrator?’ and how important customer experience is there, then you're kind of just scratching the surface.”
To aid in embedding a customer-centric culture at Lumen, Germann says her company’s CX team holds themed trainings each year, which are mandatory for all employees. This past year, the team focused on empathy and worked to demonstrate how everyone in the company, regardless of title or role, impacts the customer experience.
“The big thing is tying every single person in the company to what matters the most — and that's their customer,” Taylor adds. Investment in internal culture can be hard to measure from a monetary perspective, he says, but there can be huge value when it comes to customer satisfaction. “You can't predict whether a customer is going to renew with you,” he says. “But I believe their first decision point ... is when they initially engage with you, and that's where it starts.”
3. Digital transformation is about centering the customer — always
Taylor says companies have spent the past couple of years focused on digital transformation, but often leave out of their conversations a key aspect: the customer. “For me, everything I do has to lead with a customer statement,” he says. “What value is it driving for the customer, and how is the customer going to engage with that? How’s it going to make the customer feel when they’re engaged with that?” As organizations create customer journey maps and reexamine their processes, Taylor says, it’s critical that they take a step back to put themselves in the customers’ shoes. “I think that the trend of the future is having a customer statement first, and then building your experience around that customer statement.”
4. Don’t let perfect get in the way of better
Few resources or a less-than-ample CX budget should not keep anyone from hopping in the CX ring. “As long as you’re incrementally better every single day, one person can actually start to move mountains,” says Levinson. It only takes one person to start journey mapping or to find low-cost, high-impact areas to effect change and create momentum with demonstrable wins at the end of the year. If you feel like you’re facing down Mt. Everest, Levinson says, try breaking it down into small chunks and asking yourself, “What incremental steps can we take today to move toward our goal?”
5. Happy customers buy more
Every company does it differently, but all my guests agree that measuring ROI on your CX strategy is important to justify your investment to business leadership. And Levinson says it’s critical to use more than one metric to get a full picture of which customer segments are performing well and are likely to become repeat customers. At Lumen, Germann and her team use a custom CX impact calculator, where they input operational and Voice of Customer (VoC) data to create impact scores. “The idea is to get away from focusing on revenue and cost and to focus, instead, on what will do the greatest good for the most customers,” she explains.
At Cisco, Taylor has used what he calls, “Adopt a Customer,” where every leader in the organization adopts a customer for a month. “We engage with them weekly to understand their business, what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why they’re doing it,” he says. “It gives us a ton of data, so we know how we are standing out in the market.”
No matter which way you slice and dice your CX data, at the end of the day, Levinson says, there’s only one proof point that matters: “Happy customers buy more. It really is that simple.” Companies that are optimized for operational excellence and precision and efficiency often forget about the importance of generating a positive emotional experience, he says. “And I've watched competitors with inferior products win on exactly that point. It's kind of a wake up call ... There’s a quote that I'll remember forever: in 2015, after losing a big RFP to a competitor and going, ‘Hey, what just happened?’ and them telling us, ‘You know what? You guys are the best and the brightest, but we just like working with the other guys more.’”
Watch the webinar to learn more about how these industry veterans think about, implement, and measure CX in order to make their customers happier.
Paul Herman is VP of Customer Engagement and Market Intelligence at Sprinklr. For more than 25 years, he’s helped companies drive innovation and implement significant change through digital products, services, and experiences. He believes in the power of passionate people who genuinely care about customer success.