Customer experience management is not enough: three steps to improvement

“What is measured is managed,” said management theorist Peter Drucker. This is the rationale of traditional experience management programs that focus on measuring customer experience using metrics like the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

However, as many frustrated marketers have found, measuring or even managing an experience is very different from improving it.

The measurement is not enough to drive business goals like increasing customer loyalty and increasing your stake in the wallet. Measuring is like looking in a rear-view mirror: it shows you where you’ve been but not where to go.

To get real improvement in experience (XI), organizations need to go beyond the measurement and start putting empirical data into action.

An XI approach focuses the entire organization – from the frontline staff to the C-suite – on removing the root causes of experience problems, rather than just treating their symptoms. This focus on improvement leads to real business results and transformation successes.

Three steps to improving the customer experience

Moving from customer experience management to experience enhancement requires a change in your mind about your experience program. With the improvement of the experience, feedback is not a purpose but a means to achieve a specific business result. The desired result should focus your listening efforts and enable intelligent action based on the compiled data.

1. Determine your business goals

The best experience data comes directly from your customers and employees. Building your program around them is key to improving the experience and increasing business success.

However, you shouldn’t go straight to listening without first developing a plan. If you gather too much data before you know what you’re looking for, you will have trouble focusing on the important moments – the precious points where customer, employee, and business needs intersect.

A targeted approach is required to achieve transformational change. Before you start listening, ask yourself what business problem you are trying to solve: it could improve customer loyalty, increase wallet share, increase customer acquisition, or some other business goal.

Then create your program with that goal in mind, carefully choosing who to listen to, where and when. A considered approach to listening will help you find the right signal in the midst of the noise and lay the groundwork for meaningful change.

2. Democratize your data

Data is at the core of the XI approach, but it does not produce business results if left in isolation in different departments. Data fragmentation makes it impossible to get a holistic view of how each department is contributing to the experience, which in turn makes it difficult to collect and apply data-driven insights. Only about 5% of organizations consider empirical data in making business decisions, and isolated data is a major reason for this.

To get the most out of your customer experience data, de-silo it so that records are accessible across departments – i.e., democratize – but don’t let teams sort their next steps on their own with no guidance or focus. To inspire the kind of action that drives organizational change, you need to get the right unfolded data in front of the right internal audiences.

For example, sales reps need access to information that can help them improve win rates, and account managers should look at customer and account information that they can use to predict churn or growth.

Well thought-out democratization of data drives decisions and measures, improves functional performance and ultimately drives transformation in a company.

At the same time, you need to understand the unique story each record tells and the lens through which it looks at the world. Otherwise the data can easily be misinterpreted. From there, encourage your various teams to work together to connect and generate insights that can influence business decisions.

Think back to the business problem you identified in Step 1. With a holistic view of your data, you can more easily see whether you already have the data you need or whether you need to add new intercepts.

Don’t lose sight of your business goals, even if you democratize your data across departments.

3. Drive smart action

Once you have the data you need, the final and most meaningful step is to put it into action.

By de-siloing and democratizing data, you have already laid the foundations to activate feedback in your company, from the boardroom to the break room. Now all you need is human energy and passion to make your vision a reality.

It shouldn’t be the province of a department or team, but executive buy-in is particularly important. The tour through the C-Suite will stimulate company-wide action.

Action also means being willing to accept change. Re-focus your feedback processes on determining customer and employee intent rather than just responding to complaints. Don’t be afraid to discard old programs and audio clips that no longer work for your new goals.

Many companies are reluctant to make such necessary changes and receive programs that do not produce results.

Measuring the customer experience doesn’t mean improving the customer experience

Companies that focus their customer experience management programs on measurement have discovered a hard truth: measurement doesn’t make you taller.

To really improve business results, you need to go beyond managing experiences. This is true regardless of whether your business goals include attracting new customers, upselling / cross-selling, reducing service costs, or something else.

By starting with your business goals, democratizing data, implementing customer-centric listening, and leveraging human expertise, your business will see a real improvement in the experience.

You get more accurate, data-driven insights to make business decisions while delivering experiences that surprise and delight your customers.

More resources on customer experience management

What makes customer experience: Jeannie Walters on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Why employees don’t focus on the customer experience

Goodbye Funnel, Hello Flywheel: How to Build the New Customer Experience (CX)

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