Customer Experience: Program or Mindset?

During our lives, I imagine most of us have tried to learn a second language.  Possibly because we were required to in school, we were traveling to a foreign country or we simply wanted to expand our knowledge of other countries and cultures.  Often, when learning a new language, we translate from our ‘home’ language into the new language in our minds.  The true test of fully learning a new language is the ability to think and speak the language fluently rather than translating it first.  It’s when it becomes a mindset that we can say we fully speak a second language. 

What does learning a new language have to do with customer experience? It’s the difference between it being a program and a mindset.  Have you ever been part of a new CX program at your organization?  With great fanfare, posters and inspiring presentations, we roll out a new focus on our customers.  We hear phrases like:  Customers First.  Customer Centric.  One and Done.  Customer Focused.  We form project teams and put our best people on them to make CX happen for our organizations! We start customer advisory councils and engage employees in tiger teams to address process failures and we lurch forward towards improving the overall customer experience.  And then the momentum subsides, we get distracted with other business priorities or we move onto the next big thing. 

Is this approach wrong and misguided?  Absolutely not!  I always tell CX professionals, the important thing to do with any CX initiative is to start! Maybe with a small team, or one customer touchpoint or specific process that needs to be improved – the important message is to start addressing your organization’s customer experience, now! 

The challenge becomes, how do we move it from a program to a mindset?  How do we move it from translating CX to speaking it fluently?  How do we integrate it into our day to day operations as the way we do business – not the flavor of the month? Here are some suggestions:

·       Find colleagues that share your passion.  Who cares if the CEO won’t support your efforts?  Find a small group of colleagues in your organization that share your passion for CX and create a tiger team to address customer issues. 

·       Ask yourself: Are you easy to do business with?  Take an honest look at how easy it is to do business with your organization.  Do a quick analysis to identify customer touch points.  Talk to front line representatives in sales and customer service who deal with customers every day and listen to what they say about your organization’s customer experience. 

·       Don’t boil the ocean.  Using this initial data, look for the quick wins that can help achieve your goal, create momentum and prove the concept.  Is there a procedure or policy that everyone knows is a customer friction point?  If so, can your small tiger team solve it quickly and share your success with others in adjacent departments?

·       Seek out best practices.  Why re-invent the wheel?  Seek out other CX professionals through local CXPA networking events, online forums or webinars that can provide you with a wealth of knowledge in the “how to” of CX. 

·       Use the right language.  If we say it’s a CX program, that’s what it will always be!  Talk about CX as if it were how we do business.  Incorporate voice of customer information into your meetings.  Engage employees in addressing what is and isn’t working.  Talk about it as if you were fluent in the language and not translating it first!

·       Celebrate your successes.  Don’t hesitate to share your early successes with anyone that will listen in the organization.  Share the good, the bad and the ugly.  You’ll encounter some challenges and maybe even fail a time or two but that will only make your customer experience better and more effective. 

A truly successful customer experience is integrated and sustainable.  It is the fabric of the organization and is foundational to its success. 

Forget the posters and go for what will create a long-term shift in your company’s culture.  


Robert Azman