3 actions to battle customer experience fatigue

This is a guest post from Jeanne Bliss — customer experience expert and author of “I Love You More Than My Dog.” See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on her blog.

There is now a dizzying proliferation of content, information, and resulting confusion for a leader trying to understand “customer experience.” There are millions of results on Google images. We now have every conceivable type of chart, graph, hologram, diagram, and process map about customer experience. But what kind of experience are we having as we try to implement it? A hard one.

It’s hard to implement “customer experience” on top of an organization that:

  • Doesn’t know what customer experience means (but is beginning to take action on it)
  • Doesn’t know how to collaborate (but doesn’t address the need to learn and define how to collaborate)
  • Layers the customer experience work on top of everything else (but instead of the customer experience staying on top, it sinks into the silos and gets buried)

Here are three actions (and the need for a lot of responses) to pull the customer experience work into focus. (Download a PDF of the three actions and critical checkpoints.)

1. Know Where You Are In the Process

1. We have assembled many groups of people in the company to identify customer touch points. Yes____ No ____

2. We have brought in customers to validate and course-correct our findings. Yes ____ No ___

3. We have now held numerous sessions and people are starting to wonder what we are going to do with this mapping. Yes ___ No ___

4. We have identified and agreed upon with the organization — the end-to-end customer experience. Yes ___ No ___

5. If you walked the halls of our company and asked ten people to define our customer experience, would most give the same description? Yes ___ No ___

6. We have identified the key touchpoints most important to customers and to customer growth. Yes ___ No ___

Now the Evaluation: Review how wide you’ve made your experience project.
Are you trying to map every customer segment or scenario?
Is it getting overwhelming?
If it is, narrow the scope immediately.

? Critical Checkpoint: Gain agreement on one segment or one part of the business.
Many times, this work is abandoned because it becomes overwhelming and starts to stall. Move rapidly to the identification of the top 10-15 touch points that will have the most impact on the business. Stay focused there. Success in one area will earn the right to expand. (And focus will drive collaboration, which leads to #2.)

2. Level-Set Your Ability to Collaborate

Your ability to collaborate is the real testing ground for the customer experience work.

1. There is agreement across the organization of our top 10-15 customer touch point priorities. Yes ___ No ___

2. We have identified the different operating areas that impact each key touch point. Yes ___ No ___

3. We have agreed to map, define, and identify all of the metrics that contribute to the current experience of these key touch points. Yes ___ No ___

4. We are willing to align new teams of people working together to resolve/improve those key moments. Yes ___ No ___

5. We have committed to assign new cross-company metrics to the delivery of those experiences. Yes ___ No ____

6. We will reward these teams as a team when complaints are reduced for the priority issues. Yes ___ No ___

7. We commit to working together to resolve these issues and rebuild key touch point experiences. Yes ___ No ___

Now the Evaluation:
Count up the No checkmarks. A number higher than three reflects a serious lack of collaboration.
If you are not willing to take the time to assemble cross-functional teams to go through the processes that drive customer experience, you can’t get into the nitty-gritty of understanding operational metrics.

? Critical Checkpoint: Review how you build out solutions to customer issues.
Are they assigned by operational leader to go fix? Change this cycle and identify the entirety of the customer issue — then create a consistent cross-functional process for experience improvement. As part of that process, begin to build shared operational metrics (where the multiple silos that count the experience are held mutually accountable).

Reviewing, mapping, and being open to change operational metrics to shared metrics will test your collaboration muscle. Delivering a unified experience requires patience and an upfront agreement by leaders that acknowledges they are willing to change what constitutes “score!” and what is on their score card.

3. Examine Your Communication: Are You Bringing the Organization along with the Work?

1. We have connected the dots for the organization through communication on how each part of our operation impacts the experience. Yes ___ No ___

2. Everybody is still doing their own work. We find this “interesting” but don’t know what to do with it. Yes ___ No ___

3. We have made an inventory of all the projects going on around “customer.” Yes ___ No ___

4. We have made a “stop doing” list of projects and investments. Yes ___ No ___

5. We have actually stopped doing projects and are rigorously managing this process. Yes ___ No ___

6. We have created a roadmap that is being actively communicated as we progress. Yes ___ No ___

Now the Evaluation:
Marketing back progress inside the organization and with customers is often the weakest link of executing customer experience work.

In the absence of being updated and engaged, internal folks will view the customer experience meeting as the latest flavor in customer focus.

? Critical Checkpoint: Before you go any further, make a simple roadmap of the different parts of your customer experience journey.

Be dogged about showing that roadmap each and every time someone talks about the customer experience work. It will become a visual that people continuously reference. Use it to discuss actions, progress and challenges. The roadmap gives you the communication consistency required in these long-term projects.


About Jeanne Bliss

As “Chief Customer Officer” for Lands’ End, Mazda, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, and Microsoft, Jeanne got “customer” on the strategic agenda, earned 98% loyalty rates, and changed experiences across 50,000-person operations. Jeanne now runs CustomerBliss to create an actionable path for profitability and business growth -- through earning customer and employee raves. Her best-selling books are Chief Customer Officer and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive

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  1. Allison DeFord

    Love me some Jeanne Bliss! Excellent questions and a great way to move closer to a better customer experience. So many companies are so focused on their own products and what they think is customer service, they forget to actually put themselves in the customers shoes or ASK the customer what they want. Ask how they can support them. Thanks for this great reminder, Jeanne.

  2. jeanne bliss

    Allison, so great to hear from you! This is so much about being deliberate. Glad these questions help.


  1. Define upon | Syr21 - August 30, 2012

    […] 3 actions to battle customer experience fatigue | WordofMouth.org « Roger mcewen […]

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