#1: Silos of responsibility

You can’t help but spot the irony in this one. Yet you’ll see it time and time again!

Brands are desperately trying to break down the barriers between people, processes, and channels. The hope being a more consistent experience for their customers.

But they start out by creating yet another silo of responsibility — a dedicated “customer improvement project / initiative / panel / manager”.

Things to look out for:

  • The creation of special internal teams, often seconded from other roles (like contact centre management, telecoms, and even marketing).
  • Grand-sounding initiatives with aspirational names, like “ReCo 2020”, “One Brand. One Customer”, “Omni-Co”.
  • The engagement of external consultants, often with fixed deliverables or fixed periods of engagement.
  • Incumbent technology vendors building a customer experience strategy around their own solution’s capabilities.

And some things you might like to try instead:

  • Disseminate responsibility for improving specific aspects of your customer experience (rather than trying to manage it centrally).
  • Adapt existing internal colloqualisims to support a new focus on customer experience (avoid a secret new vocabulary limited to a few chosen people).
  • If you have to build teams, build multiple, small teams with finite deliverables and plenty of opportunities to interact with each other. Force that interaction if you have to.

#2: Transformative projects

Customer’s don’t often build an opinion of your brand in a single moment.

Its an aggregation of interactions with your brands products, your customer service team, your online checkout experience, and so much more.

Yet too often brands give customer experience improvement initiatives a beginning (“We’ll analyze what our customers want.”), a middle (“Then we’ll design the perfect approach.”) and an end (“Then we’ll implement the best solutions”).

Some clues that you’re attempting something bigger than you need to:

  • There’s a lot of focus on up-front user research and customer journey mapping. Your customers spend a long time noticing not a lot of change.
  • Your teams are drafting, re-viewing, re-drafting, and signing-off large design documents (and you know most of what’s being written will change before its implemented).
  • Phase one is due to go live in “12- to 18-months from now” (and you’re doubtful that phase two will actually ever happen!)
  • A change of plan is seen as disruptive — and in any case, it’ll take weeks to get “Paul, John, Margaret, and that guy from the systems team to approve the change control form”.

And some antidotes to those mistakes:

  • Adopt a more Agile approach to change.
  • Get stuff built and tested by real life customers as quickly as you can (if you don’t spend much time or money deploying something, you’ll lose far less face changing it later).
  • Limit change to a subset of customers if you have to — but time is of the essence: release changes quickly, test the results, and iterate as needed.

#3: Approach to technology

There’s a ton of great technology out there to help you deliver better experiences to your customers.

And there’s also a lot of technology out their to make cleaning your bathroom easier — but a bucket and sponge will do just fine, if used correctly!

Technology is an enabler. A tool. Something to support your brand’s key business activities.

Yet too often your colleagues in IT or your technology service providers retain too much control over what technology can be used. Technology is deployed with impressive capabilities that you don’t have easy enough use of to derive value from.

Watch out for some of these scenarios:

  • IT / telecoms /devops have a big say in procurement decisions.
  • multi-purpose, single-vendor solutions that “seamlessly handle omni-channel customer journeys” are replacing what feel like perfectly functional, best-of-breed components.
  • Phase one of the roll out is a “like-for-like replacement ” (with plans to add enhancements “when we get used to the new systems”)
  • IT / telecoms / devops control important changes — “just raise a ticket with the support desk and we’ll make the changes for you.”

And then suggest the following:

  • Attach more value to usability than capabilities
  • 10 useful features that business users have access to is better than 1,000 useful features that IT are shielding them from.
  • Capture only the data upon which meaningful decisions can be made.
  • Anything deployed within the past 10-years can probably be integrated with anything else deployed during the same period (that dumpster of old tech doesn’t need to be so full).

Customer experience is a DISCIPLINE (not a PROJECT!)

Staging high quality, low effort customer experiences built upon relevant, personalized, and timely interactions is the way leading brands will continue to exchange value with their customers.

And it doesn’t have to be difficult!

From here on in:

  • Don’t initiate big, scary projects — they take a long time and rarely deliver against expectations.
  • Deploy → Test → Iterate (avoid design → build → test → deploy wherever possible.)
  • Have IT and your technology partners on board (but not in the driving seat).