Over the past year, I’ve had several prospective clients get excited about improving their customer experience—and then postpone their CX initiatives because they first need to “prioritize defining the business requirements” or because they’re about to “embark on a major org change.”
This approach always leaves me scratching my head. While these types of initiatives may make leaders feel as if they’re moving the company forward, the lack of customer input puts their decisions and change management efforts at high risk. What if the business requirements you’re formulating run contrary to what customers actually want—or miss some yet unarticulated need? How will your new org structure impact customer communications and services—and how can you even determine the potential impact if you’re not sure what customers’ real experiences and pain points are in the first place?
This Big-Business-Decisions-First-Customer-Experience Second approach is problematic. It assumes that customer experience is something additive. It suggests that customer experience is the pretty icing you layer over the functional core of your business cake.
This mindset is flat out wrong.
Customer experience isn’t something else you do—it’s how you do everything. Yes, customer experience transformation requires a significant amount of time, money, and focus from the leaders who are trying to turn the ship around. But for everyone else in the organization, customer experience shouldn’t represent another task on employees’ to-do lists or an extra 60 minutes on top of their regular day jobs. Customer experience should infuse every action, every decision, every conversation, every purchase, and every meeting. It should be an invisible yet ever-present aspect of how all employees work and how the organization as a whole does business.
Customer insights should be an input to EVERY business decision—not just the ones that have obvious and direct influence on customer interactions. Yes, this means that you should consider how your new business strategy, your new org structure, your new employee compensation plan, your new expense reporting software, and your new office location would impact customers—either directly or indirectly.
Whatever Big Business Decision you’re making, don’t do it in a vacuum. Inform your business decisions with deep customer insights and execute them in conjunction with your ongoing customer experience initiatives. Making business decisions in this way is a prerequisite to instilling customer centricity as a fundamental part of your culture.