If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past two years, it is that we all need to be able to embrace change and be flexible. For organisations, this requires a deep appreciation of how to handle planned, but more importantly, emergent change. It’s why we recommend a cyclical approach to customer experience (CX).
In an ideal world it would, of course, be great if all change could be planned in advance. Yes, some things clearly are more suited to a rigid, step-by-step approach to new circumstances or requirements. For example, introducing a new member of the team can be controlled to a certain extent through structured onboarding, training and so on.
However, it’s not aways possible to predict and prepare for the unforeseen. And the reality is that change is often more fluid, iterative and incremental in nature than we might like.
To help mitigate the challenges posed by emergent change we need to maximise our understanding of internal or external influences and trends, specifically where and when they are occurring. And we need to do something about it in the most efficient and effective manner to reduce any potential impact on growth but also to aid the continued evolution of the business.
Insight and customer experience teams are ideally placed to monitor shifting demands on the business and wider economic issues proactively. Technology can be deployed to track and understand any fluctuations in customer preferences, attitudes and decision making. The insight gathered can identify where inconsistencies, obstacles or processes are negatively impacting the ability to respond to change and deliver what customers want, when they want it. It can help businesses to design, check, re-set and modify every aspect of the interdependent customer-employee-organisational experience on a continuous basis.
Organisations that adopt a cyclical approach to customer experience are better placed to reduce the impact of significant unplanned change. They are able to identify issues and shifts in customer needs early, enabling them to respond to incremental or emergent change along the way.
Most CX programmes incorporate insight from multiple areas by:
Listening to customers
The most commonly implemented of all CX programmes, this enables you to understand where frustration and inconsistency is occurring, but also to identify and learn from where things are going well. The levels of sophistication vary between programmes, with some covering every touchpoint, others choosing to focus on annual pulses. Many use AI and advanced text analytics to pinpoint problem areas, others stick with traditional coded answers. However they are run, customers will tell you where processes, products or services are falling short of the promises you made and the messages you shared online, via your ads and in direct communication with your customers.
Learning from employees
Some CX programmes integrate employee feedback. Staff on the frontline are faced with the daily reality of dealing with customers, experiencing first hand how and when operational practices or internal structures impact their ability to provide a great customer experience. They are also first to hear about problems or disappointments from customers which is why programmes that adopt the internal and external view are better able to bridge the CX gap. It’s far better to resolve issues causing complaints from a few customers than wait until they become widespread grievances that could negatively impact your reputation and repeat business.
Aligning to the bigger picture
Another approach is to consider the impact of interactions with other stakeholders – partners, suppliers, etc. Sometimes customer frustration may have nothing to do with your internal service or company but instead may be linked to your partner’s performance. Including stakeholder reviews can also help you to pinpoint areas that could improve overall business success. Change does not happen in isolation so tracking stakeholder interaction with your business could also help to highlight where incremental changes are either having an impact or could make a difference.
However, despite the value that these strategies bring to your CX programme, you still need to adopt a cyclical approach to customer experience. Why? Because it creates the right environment for the evolutionary process that is needed to adapt to marketplaces that are constantly changing, shifting customer needs, competitors adjusting their offering, technology delivering advancements that potentially create a competitive edge, and so on. Unless your CX programme is continually realigned, its impact will fade with time. A continuous review of your organisation’s maturity, the promises you are making, how you are measuring your performance, and how it’s impacting your business will put you in the driving seat, enabling you to take a much more proactive and forward looking approach to change.
You can find out more about Beehive’s thoughts and recommendations about best practice customer experience in ‘Promises, Expectation and how to avoid the CX Gap’.