In my exclusive column for CustomerThink in October 2016, I shared my ‘top tips’ for creating the right culture to enable an organisation to become genuinely customer centric. Whilst the list of seven things is by no means exhaustive, in my experience, together they provide a remarkably solid foundation to embedding the right environment and supporting behaviours to turn talk of customer centricity into reality.
For the next few months, I am exploring each one of my seven tips in a little more detail. In November 2016 I did so with tip number 1 – how to make Customer Experience a priority for the whole company – you can read it here. In my last column of 2016, I explored tip number 2 – how to embed a Customer Experience Framework. This is what I said about the subject in October:
“I have written recently about what I describe as the ‘Customer Experience Jigsaw Puzzle’. To create a customer centric culture, it is critical that a business is able to introduce and embed some rigor and structure into the way it goes about managing the customer experience. The deployment of a customer experience management framework not only enables an organisation to focus on connecting multiple activities, it also creates an environment that engenders a sustainable approach to continuous improvement of the customer experience.
Many frameworks have been created around the world – this is the generic one that I use to teach organisations about the principle.
A number of organisations have chosen to deploy a ‘maturity model’ approach to embedding rigor to the way the customer experience is managed; I am also a big advocate of that concept. Whatever you choose to use, I believe that the structure a framework or maturity model will afford an organisation, the more likely it is that the underpinning culture will be able to transform into one that is sustainably customer centric.”
So let me ask you the question: Does your organisation have a framework, structure or rigour in place to manage the Customer Experience? In my experience, the answer to that question in recent years has been more in the negative than the positive. Whilst businesses have generated a significant amount of Customer Experience related activity, much of it is tactical and unconnected (or disconnected). Thus, it is difficult for these businesses to see how the activity pieces together and whether collectively it is achieving strategic ambitions or not.
Key Questions, Tools, and Competencies
The simple framework I use brings to life how the principle of a structured approach to Customer Experience can work. In simplistic terms, it translates into several key questions:
- Do you know who your customers are?
- Do you know what you are supposed to be doing for your customers?
- Do you know how good (or bad) you are at doing whatever it is you are supposed to be doing for your customers?
- Do you know what you need to get better at doing for your customers?
- Do you know if your own people are engaged in what you are supposed to be doing for your customers?
- Are your own people advocates or ‘fans’ of what you are supposed to be doing for your customers?
These questions then convert into some of the key tools and competencies required to put the structure in place:
- Do you know who your customers are? Customer Personas
- Do you know what you are supposed to be doing for your customers? Brand and Customer Value Propositions
- Do you know how good (or bad) you are at doing whatever it is you are supposed to be doing for your customers? Customer Journey Management and Measurement (Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Process); Organisational adoption and accountability
- Do you know what you need to get better at doing for your customers? Customer Focused Prioritisation; Customer Experience Improvement and Design
- Do you know if your own people are engaged in what you are supposed to be doing for your customers? Customer Experience Culture – Customer Experience communication and engagement
- Are your own people advocates or ‘fans’ of what you are supposed to be doing for your customers? Voice of the Employee measurement
All the activity required to answer the six questions needs to interact with each other – they are not mutually exclusive – they are inextricably linked. If an organisation aspires to be sustainably customer centric, the better able you are to not just generate this activity, but connect it together, the more mature you will become as a customer centric organisation.
Therefore, many businesses choose to create their frameworks in the form of a maturity model – in other words, how mature are we at doing the things required to be sustainably customer centric. Many types of maturity model exist – this is the one used by Forrester:
The maturity model concept allows the management of Customer Experience to become a sustainable and indefinite exercise – using Forrester’s terminology, for your Customer Experience Culture to be ‘Systematic’ – and remain so – will require constant effort and monitoring. Enabling your Customer Experience to become truly ‘Systematic’ is not easy – which is why so few organisations have been able to achieve this.
So how can you start to embed a Customer Experience Framework into your organisation? Follow these steps:
- Choose a simple Framework to test the concept
- See what existing activity you already have in place and how it can fit in to the Framework you have chosen
- Identify the gaps that exist
- Assess the maturity of either each ‘part’ of the framework or each piece of activity in place
- Determine what needs to be done to increase the maturity level or fill the gaps
- Share your output with key stakeholders – ask them to assess maturity levels
- Share your output with peers and colleagues across the organisation – ask them to assess maturity levels
- Collate the self-assessment output and develop a proposal to formalise the framework and create a strategic action plan
Even these steps are not guaranteed for you to embed the framework approach – yet by doing this, you will be helping your organisation to start putting the essential pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in place. Openness, honesty and the willingness of leaders is required for the framework to become a strategic tool, but even if that cannot be achieved in the short term, it does not prevent you from using it tactically to start with.
Implementing and embedding a Customer Experience Framework is an essential component to sustaining a focus on Customer Experience – yet just one of the seven tips that I believe that will create a sustainable customer centric culture.
I look forward to writing about the next five tips in 2017. In the meantime, I want to extend a huge thank you to all of you who have read, commented and supported both CustomerThink and my column over the last twelve months. Have a wonderful festive season and a New Year full of continuously better Customer Experiences!!
This post was originally written exclusively for my column on CustomerThink – a global online community of business leaders striving to create profitable customer-centric enterprises. The site serves 80,000+ visitors per month from 200 countries.
You can read my column here!