Senior leaders committed to building a superior customer experience will need an achievable plan that can be delivered while carrying on with day-to-day business. Companies that fall short of expectations they’ve set usually fail to bring their people through the change, largely due to two blind spots. First, they push initiatives without understanding the many other tasks people are juggling. Second, the mere prospect of change can be quite unsettling; employees justifiably worry about their own role, resist the change and get distracted from their work.
Just as devising a winning experience starts with the customer’s priorities, an achievable plan shows empathy for employees—senior leaders put themselves in the performer’s shoes—and assesses the organization’s state of readiness by answering three practical questions:
Which groups are the most critical in order to carry out the required changes? It’s useful to map a matrix showing the importance of the change to each group and the expected effect of the change on them.
How can we equip each group for success? Improvements will come slowly if people have to battle outdated practices and policies. So companies may have to invest in process changes or technologies that will to help their people succeed, as well as hire people with new skills in, say, digital design.
Who can best support and influence the groups? Given that a customer’s experience touches multiple parts of a company—which in turn depends on support from other departments behind the scenes—success hinges on having sponsors of the plan at all levels. This “sponsorship spine” sometimes tracks direct reporting relationships, like a call-center agent, his supervisor, her manager and so on. But it often also includes respected advocates in other units, people who have influence by virtue of their earned authority and reputation.
In many cases, a complete transformation of a customer experience takes place over 18 to 24 months and comprises several phases:
- Installation of the Net Promoter System, including working out the economics of greater loyalty as part of making a strong case for change, combined with a compelling customer vision.
- Realization of the intended outcome by using the inner and outer loops and the advocacy of sponsors throughout the organization, while concentrating on the must-win battles.
- Mastering the discipline of repeatability. In fast-moving markets, the half-life of any customer experience has grown shorter. Successful companies thus develop capabilities to make the experience design process repeatable, either to apply to new products and markets or to adapt to the inevitable shifts in the marketplace. Building a repeatable model allows companies to rapidly adapt to change without succumbing to complexity. The outcome is a customer-centric culture that delivers exceptional experiences, time after time, to create lasting competitive differentiation.