I am often asked how best to influence all levels of an organisation to focus on the customer.

‘How can I get the board to listen to me?’

‘I have the facts, but nothing ever changes’.

‘Why do we keep taking customers for granted, despite knowing what to do to make their experience better?’.

All customer experience professionals (CXPs) are used to frustration – it comes with the job title. All CXPs will at some time have experienced the same challenges in trying to improve or sustain their organisations customer experience. CXPs are often specialists in defining strategies, measurement systems, voice of the customer programmes, employee advocacy and engagement initiatives etc.

BUT….there is always a but…….the thing that really makes a CXP is the basis by which they operate – their role is ‘to always do the right thing by customers’. Sounds simple right? Yes and No!!

I will always strive to get organisations I work with to do the right thing by their customers. Businesses are in business to serve their customers – without them they would not exist. I am obviously stating the obvious, but there are many occasions where we could all be forgiven for thinking that our organisations had forgotten that customers exist! However businesses are not charities (as many CFOs will be only too quick to point out), and exist to make as much profit for their owners and shareholders as possible.

This is where ‘doing the right thing for customers’ can often become the ultimate challenge. How can you do what is right for customers when profits are falling? How can you do the right thing is costs are rising? The job of the CXP is use fact (a word I use a lot), to help their business understand the effect ‘not doing the right thing’ might and will be having on customer behaviour.

Whilst many business leaders focus on the numbers – ‘top and bottom line’ (dreadful words that are a million miles away from the language of the consumer), the CXP focuses on how those numbers can improve by designing and delivering experiences that customers are willing to buy over and over again. Using voice of he customer information and operational metrics, the CXP can help business leaders understand BOTH what it is that is driving customers away, thus identifying the priorities for improvement, AND what is generating unnecessary cost.

I found a great blog the other day by Mark McDonald from Gartner. Mark’s blog talks about Customer Experience ‘bridging the gap between revenue growth and cost cutting’ http://blogs.gartner.com/mark_mcdonald/2012/01/06/customer-experience-bridges-the-gap-between-revenue-growth-and-cost-cutting/. Mark says:

“Create a superior, a simple, an engaging and powerful experience and you will grow revenue. Deliver that experience requires cutting the internal clutter that makes it hard to do business.  This view creates a focal point for both rather than a forcing function requiring a choice between revenue growth and cost cutting.”

In other words, doing the right thing by your customer can deliver BOTH revenue growth as well as making your organisation a leaner more cost-effective one. This is such a vital thing to remember when you are in an environment where you are being encouraged to do things that may NOT be in the interests of your customers.

I am always reminded of an online retailer who removed the telephone number from every page of their website. They did it to ‘prevent’ customers from unnecessarily contacting them. The move would save them significant amounts of money from reduced contact volumes. Was it the right thing to do? All I can say is that the retailer in question now has the telephone number visible on their website.

In my time at Shop Direct Group, the decision was made to introduce a ‘free delivery option’ – a bold move that wiped out an income stream overnight. It was done because the business knew it was the right thing to do – not only was the lost delivery income recovered from increased revenue, a greater increase in sales resulted.

Doing the right thing is obvious to the CXP – but not always obvious to everyone else. That is why we have CXPs – it is our job to make sure that business leaders have all the facts to make the right decisions – decisions that will result in customers coning back to them, time and time again.

As always, your comments on this and any of my blogs are both welcome and encouraged.