Go See the Wizard of Oz: You’re Gonna Need Some Courage

Reputation Staff Writer

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Click to follow Reputation.com on LinkedIn.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve talked about how the customer experience world is fundamentally changing. The pace at which business is conducted across the many customer touchpoints has shifted how businesses need to think about the customer journey, the time to react to how the customer is experiencing the customer journey, and how to harness this new world of feedback to address the realized value gap driving revenue and margins.

To recap, we discussed:

  1. The new customer journey, which transforms the way we need to think about how we address the customer experience.
  2. A new category of data — data in the wild —  that has opened up an entirely new world of customer feedback.
  3. The resulting value gap that exposes future business revenue and profit growth outcomes.

In this article, I talk about the reasons traditional forms of collecting customer feedback don’t help to improve customer experience.

I’ve worked in Silicon Valley in some capacity for the last 20 years, and the one thing I know for sure: It is the single greatest collection of intellectual horsepower in the world. It’s the NFL of intellect, the World Cup of ingenuity and the Tour de France of creativity — all in one place. Filled to the brim with graduates from the best schools around the globe, people flock here to compete to solve the world’s’ most difficult business problems.

A solution methodology to one of those big business problems companies of all sizes face was introduced in 2003 by Fred Reicheld, Bain & Company and Satmetrix: The Net Promoter System (NPS). NPS was designed to enable businesses to predict and measure the loyalty of their customer base as well as future business success (revenue growth). Their hypothesis makes sense: Happy customers are loyal, buy more from you over time and advocate on your behalf to others. The metric is wildly popular and is used by approximately two-thirds of the Fortune 1000.

Though wildly popular, successful execution on traditional NPS programs remains elusive. All of the right investments in time, resources, technology and political capital have been made, yet the customer is not responding with greater investment, and new business hasn’t materialized from your customers’ willingness to recommend.

Why is that?

Here are the top reasons why your NPS/CX programs are missing the mark:

  1. The World Moves at a Faster Pace than NPS. Developed in 2003, NPS is based on the design of a simple, structured survey that delivers structured feedback. There was little to no “data in the wild” in 2003 as online reviews and social media were not fully baked. Today, we are in the middle of a review revolution — unstructured feedback exceeds that of structured and is continuing to grow, thereby widening the gap.
  2. You don’t really know how to do it. The fact is, not that many people have done it (successfully) across an entire enterprise. Yes, two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 may use it, but if they were all using it in a way that was consistent with the way it was intended to be used, wouldn’t they all see continual revenue growth? When you pull back the covers, what you will find is that many use it at a departmental level or in a “one-off” fashion.
  3. Your baby is ugly. Not only are you already “comfortable,” with the products that you make or deliver but a TON of work and good intentions went into making your products and processes what they are today. That doesn’t mean that your customers LOVE them or will be loyal to them. Once you hear that the baby is ugly enough and you are finally ready to make customer-driven change… let the data battles begin.
  4. You don’t have clean data or it’s incomplete. Very few companies that I have come across have  “clean data.” Whether a result of data entry during lead generation, data entry during customer setup or data entry during a support interaction, most have data cleanliness issues. The problem with lack of clean data in a system that requires structured data is that it creates inaccuracy in your data set. Inaccuracy in your data set leads to inaccurate results. Also, your data may be incomplete. You may send your survey to your day-to-day contact, but don’t you also want the input of the decision-maker? What about the key influencers? How are you ensuring that your survey is going to the right person at the right time?
  5. Your intentions are good. There’s a big difference between you being “well-intended customer-centric” and actually being customer-centric. How often is your customer represented in internal staff meetings? How often do you talk to customers outside of dealing with an issue or responding to a survey? Go back through your product roadmap, company policy and departmental process and identify the amount of change that was deployed based on actual customer verbatims.
  6. You would rather be right than win. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times: “But we specifically designed the installation process of this release to be customer-friendly! We made it push-button simple.” Or, “We specifically put this feature in our vehicle to make it driver-friendly.” Maybe you did, but you didn’t make it push-button simple based on what your customers consider push-button simple. As such, you argue your point to victory rather than focus on “what matters” and winning the loyalty and advocacy of your customers. If you want to win, focus on taking action based on what customers say. When you underfund your CX efforts, digging though the insights available to make customer-driven decisions is weakened.
  7. You have actionable data but you don’t know how to assemble it. If the “holy grail” of the CX world is “tell me what to do,” then actionable data is the penultimate step. Here’s the problem: Oftentimes, the data is right there for you to see, but taking it and putting it into an actionable format is simply not a skill set that lots of people have. It’s one of those things that sounds easy until you try to actually do it.
  8. You brought a Ferrari to a bicycle race. You spent countless amounts of time and money bringing in consultants and professional services to build the perfect CX implementation.  Your survey gets you answers to every question you think you will take action on and for every department that will use it. You have governance meetings and inner and outer loops and tiger teams. Maybe you do need hot-spots and heat maps and conjoint analysis. Or maybe what you really needed was a simple survey and the ability to combine that with all of the insightful data from the wild to take meaningful action— at a fraction of the cost.
  9. Your company culture is not customer-centric. You want to do it. You’ve learned all about it. You’ve made the pitch internally. Some people liked it, some people were “meh.” Someone told you to go ahead, so you did, and you’re working hard at it. You’re taking your findings to others and sometimes people listen, and sometimes they don’t. It’s not your fault. Your company culture just isn’t customer-centric in everything they do.
  10. Your executive team doesn’t really understand it. Even if your executives support improving customer experience and bonus their employees on it, they may never take the time to fully understand what it takes to actually make it work. As a result, they keep CX at a high priority, but allow outdated roadmaps and departmental politics to dominate the agenda.

There has to be a better way. There is — and in my next series of articles, we will begin to explore it.

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