The five crucial things successful CX companies do every day

> Most successful CX companies do these things to lift their game
> Steve Towers shares the winning strategies
> Model your own strategy based on leading CX next practices
This article is a build on terrific feedback from my recent piece ‘5 Critical Failures of 80% of Customer Experience initiatives’.
(You can see that here:
George Bernard Shaws observation is pertinent “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”
So with that in mind, let’s move beyond the mistakes and uncover the winning strategies and how best can we implement those insightful approaches?
Based on our recent work and research my report from the CX front line should help you rethink your approach in our collective endeavor to get more scientific about the customer experience.
In the earlier article, we identified five major errors and causes of failure. Let’s review how winning CX companies reframe those into successful strategies.  
1. Top teams understand CX success and get out of the way of their people to let them get on with it.
To achieve strategic CX success, it is necessary to understand the limitations imposed by industrial age thinking (getting better at doing the wrong stuff faster, functional specialisms, outdated reward systems) and help the organization migrate to Outside-In thinking and practices. At Zappos, for instance, it is more important to meet the customer (see Zappos hits the road.. and gather insights, and provide input to reshaping the organization. The top team is actually out there “We want to shake the customers hands, give them really big high fives and meet their friends — delivering happiness and memorable experiences along the way,” said Kristin Richmer, Senior Brand Marketing Manager, Zappos.
The task then is not overlaying the new insights onto an industrial age siloed world. It is actually to reshape the organization, its people, the reward systems, processes and systems to better deliver successful customer outcomes. Tony Hsieh reinforces this feed forward approach “we actually want to talk with customers more as 70% of our business are repeat buys. Hiding our contact details and making it difficult to talk is not our way”
2. Customer needs are understood and developed to create the organizational alignment towards successful customer outcomes.
Leading CX Companies have developed an a-b-c strategy when boiled down includes
(a) stop asking customers what they want
(b) get your head around current customer expectations, and
(c) articulate customer needs even when the customer doesn’t know what they are.
This effort is not a ‘one and done’, it is about continual learning and then development of services and products that anticipate customer needs, rather than following the outdated mantra of those organizations seeking more and more (often meaningless) feedback.
And Disney provides a demonstration of this a-b-c approach.
Consider this:

Disney World Orlando, is about 43 square miles, about twice the size of Manhattan. 30 million guests per year enjoy 4 theme parks: the Magic Kingdom, the Hollywood Studios, Epcot and the Animal Kingdom.

You can navigate to these parks by car, bus, monorail, boats and a ferry depending on your hotel – and that in itself includes over 20 themed for your delight. Coupled with Disneys new wearable “Magic Bands” (see you receive a smooth personalized experience where ever you are.
This collection of entertainment is a dynamic living system focused on successful customer outcomes. With digital real-time feedback, Disney offers an integrated experience built around a co-ordinated set of business and customer outcomes, from the time you think of a trip, to the time you are back home with the kids.
3. Being customer-centric isn’t about projects – it is a state of mind.
A great mistake of many is approaching customer experience as an initiative, something with a clearly defined start and end point. Appreciating CX is a state of mind for the whole company is a major differentiator and allows successful organizations to continually tweak and evolve, rather than live in a permanent state of project stop-start crisis. The guiding principle is, at the heart of CX, change is desirable, welcomed and systematic. It impacts everyone and everything all the time.
4. Successful CX transcends measures and implements a rigorous feedback/feed forward framework.
A recent analysis in the banking industry suggested that more than 85% of the total key performance indicators measured outputs – things that get produced from activities.
Successful CX companies however, have a very different profile and focus, their attention is on measuring outcomes – the result of what is produced. To these companies this is not a semantic distinction, it underpins the total CX strategy. As a result, the measurement systems are simplified, and the focus on results rather than activity moves the dial towards customer centricity so much more quickly. Programs such as Disneys True North set a direction with supporting metrics, and rather than measure everything that moves they focus on the results and outcomes that need to be delivered to achieve successful customer outcomes. In this context, more than 75% of measures are ‘Outcomes’ with less than 25% outputs.
Test this for yourself in the call center. What are your top ten measurements, are they output oriented or outcome based? The former would be things like average handle time, abandon rates, downtime and so on. The latter would be the delivery of customer need, queries completely resolved (not the piece mean partial interim ‘first call resolution’ type things measured with a functional bias).
In summary, CX leaders have fewer measures and the majority are now Outcome-based.
5. CX is both the strategy and the operational objective to overcome needless complexity.
A recent Forrester survey says 81% of CX professionals are mapping experiences from the customers perspective but only 21% are mapping the ecosystem (processes, people, technology). In this context there are two opportunities that successful CX companies exploit:
i. CX can only be successful if you build a complete CX ecosystem map (we call that a CXecomap) which includes cause and effect and connects the people who deliver the customer experience with those people and systems who provide the means for it.
ii. CX Current state crisis. Successful CX companies can clearly articulate the what and how the organization should be doing to deliver great experiences. They do not become mired in the exercise of mapping all the current external and internal processes and systems (which can take years to complete and provides little in the way of direction for what should exist.)
These companies understand the reality that the current structure and systems were never created with excellent CX in mind but were in fact designed around an industrial age, production system based model. Accordingly, next practice is to utilize design principles that envision what should be, and then progressively mature and migrate the organization to that vision.
To conclude CX success doesn’t come from wishful thinking. It is a deliberate and sustained effort to understand and articulate the ever changing customer. To build a new trust with them that goes beyond the platitudes of the past. In the near term it is about becoming more scientific about the customer experience. In the longer term it is a guarantee of business success.
We have codified these CX next practice approaches into the CEMMethod (now version10). You can access that as a resource with others below.
The earlier article can be viewed here: ‘5 Critical Failures of 80% of Customer Experience initiatives’.
Other useful resources on this (workshops, accreditation, and certification) (blog for all things customer experience) (CEMMethod v10) (Free copy of ‘Outside-In. The Secret’)
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The 5 Critical Failures of 80% of Customer Experience initiatives

“We have got to get more scientific about the Customer Experience.”

Strategic positioning of customer experience is now widely recognized as a key to business success. However, the majority of many well-intended CX initiatives is to become a victim of the organization inertia and sink to the level of metrics on dashboards buried in functional departments. At best these failing efforts deliver small incremental performance improvements rather than providing the customer and business insights necessary to strategic success.

Why is this so, and what lessons can we learn?
We have identified five major errors and causes of failure
1. Top teams have unreasonable expectations of CX success
2. Customers needs are not clearly defined from the Outside-In
3. CX Initiatives are not implemented with transformation in mind.
4. CX Initiatives focus on the wrong measures, rather than successful customer outcomes.
5. CX Initiatives go way down deep into functional complexity

Error #1: Top teams anticipate CX Success without understanding the enterprise was never designed to do this stuff.
Talking about customer experience and implementing the changes necessary to delivering CX success are two quite distinct things. Many organizations brief their senior people with the importance of the business transformations underway, why a focus on the customer is essential to survive and thrive, and why it is necessary that the dots are connected from every activity to the customer experience. Fair enough. However, Top teams then anticipate internal leadership towards customer centricity but at the same time do not enable the underlying functions to realign to achieve successful customer outcomes.
The realization that the organization structure, rewards systems and technology were never designed to deliver great customer experiences, they were in fact originally designed with an industrial age mindset to achieve industrial age goals. To achieve strategic CX success, it is necessary to understand the limitations imposed by inside-out thinking (getting better at doing stuff faster) and help the organization migrate to Outside-In thinking and practices (alignment to delivering Successful Customer Outcomes)
Error #2: Customers needs are not clearly articulated and underpinned by smart Outside-In metrics.
The challenge here is two-fold. Do we understand who our customers are, and what success looks like from their perspective?
It is frequently observed that 80% of profit comes from 20% of customers however organizations are especially fickle when it comes to understanding where they should focus limited resource to get the maximum sustained return from the appropriate customers. Good discipline here is about identifying the categories of customer and prioritizing them in terms of needs and success. That can mean migrating away from undesirable customers. Intrinsic in this failure is arbitrarily segmenting customers by circumstance (where they are based, the length of relationship, immediate spend available etc.) rather than categorizing customers based on their needs.
Needs assessment is NOT about asking customers what they want. If you asked your kids what they want for dinner, don’t be too surprised if they say burgers, ice cream, chocolate and gummy bears, on one plate. That question is just plain stupid. So why go asking customers what they want? Smart CX companies figure out their customer needs even when the customer doesn’t know them. Case in point would be the launch of the iPhone more than a decade ago. Apple’s genius was in understanding the new customer and getting ahead of the game to design products and services that met, at the point of launch, something customers could never have articulated. This is not, however, an excuse to stop listening to customers, that is more essential than ever before. Just stop asking them dumb questions which may cause you to do the wrong things (rather like Nokia did).
Error #3: For CX initiatives delivering success will require change and transformation
This is a very common problem and is rooted in the idea that CX initiatives are just another thing to integrate into the existing ways of working. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A fundamental of successful CX initiatives is identifying and implementing the ongoing change required across the enterprise to align everything to Successful Customer Outcomes.
Once the customer needs are articulated work backward to recraft the appropriate structures that will guide the enterprise progressively towards success. That will, of course, require potentially significant changes to the shape and technology of how work gets done. It will reach into every nook and cranny of the business. Ultimately the organization may look quite different from the industrial age model and will become shaped to achieve the ongoing change brought about by the digital revolution.
Error #4: CX Initiatives focus on the wrong measures, rather than successful customer outcomes.
The Successful Customer Outcome is like the beacon on the hill; everyone should be aligned and progressively moving in that direction. If your metrics are not contributing to that alignment, you may be getting better at doing the wrong things (in the context of delivering an optimized CX).
Here’s a good question to ask anyone in the business “is everything you are doing aligned to delivering a successful customer outcome?” and if the answer comes back with anything other than “yes, 100%” you may be doing dumb stuff really well. The why of that is easy to understand – you get what you measure, and frequently companies excessively measure outputs (what is produced) rather than business outcomes (what is delivered). If you task people to measure outputs and reward them for improving those outputs, there is often a repeated disconnect between the work performed and the end customer delivery. Getting a balance right here is essential.
There is a remarkable lack of science in this sphere of CX Initiatives. Reliance on simplistic measurement systems, with ‘one question rules them all’ approaches is not only misleading but may cause you to do precisely the wrong things.
Error #5. CX Initiatives go way down deep into functional complexity
CX Initiatives have lofty visions but all too often become bogged down in organization politics and the natural resistance to change. Often the local leadership pays lip service to the customer experience ‘it is not my job after all’ and this resulting crawl ultimately thwarts the CX initiative.
To deliver and ensure ongoing success the guiding light of the Successful Customer Outcome and it is associated focus on winning the triple crown – simultaneously improving the Customer Experience, Reducing Costs and Growing Revenues – should be on every agenda in the business. Linking the triple crown across the departments and divisions dispels the practical objections as everyone becomes accountable for demonstrating their substantial triple crown contribution. This, in turn, ensures a significant contribution to delivering the ROI for the CX Initiative.
There are many bear traps and blind alleys to avoid on the journey to delivering CX success however an understanding of the most common errors will ensure a greater chance of success. After all the goal is to deliver strategic Successful Customer Outcomes that result in terrific and rewarding customer experiences.
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