Innovation is dead. Lucky for us, it can be reborn. Or so says Christine Crandell. She’s a B2B strategy, marketing and transformation expert who helps CEOs, CMOs, CROs, COOs and investors accelerate revenue growth. She does it by focusing on the customer experience.
Customer Experience is a Movement
Christine Crandell and I sat down to talk about what goes into creating a successful customer experience from the top down.
First, Crandell says, customer experience isn’t a gimmick. It can take at least 10 years before it becomes standard practice. As a result, c-suite members need to rethink how they operate.
Second, get rid of the organization chart. Instead, Crandell says to focus on the cross-functional teams that work around the customer.
No one wants to change. Changing is hard and can take a long time. However, if companies can discover the customer journey at a granular level, experiences will shift accordingly. This means understanding how people within the company think about engagement. It’s about self-awareness — giving employees the freedom to realize that they don’t have the right things in place and letting them come up with the solutions together.
It’s Also About the Employee Experience
Employees want to be useful. They want to feel as if they’re contributing to something bigger. But the era of the empowered employee has made it so effective executive leadership is more important than ever. Senior leaders need to better define the roles and responsibilities of those who fall outside specialized talents, like managers, so they know (and feel) that they play a part in facilitating innovation from the bottom up.
Because change is hard, especially for older or more traditional companies, I asked Ms. Crandell if start-ups were poised to be better organized to deliver better customer experiences. She said it depends — it’s either there from day one or it isn’t. It also depends on how well funded they are. As they vie for investors, most start-ups operate in a state of survival, which can distract them from focusing on the customer experience. For companies that have reached the $US 100 - 200 million level, Crandell says start-ups are in a better position to implement meaningful changes.
What Does Good CXM Look Like From Within Company Walls?
Crandell says that in order for companies to effectively embrace a customer experience focus, they need to embody a few behaviors.
- Understanding: Companies need to walk in the customers’ shoes. What are the “crazy makers” — the things that frustrate customers?
- Consistency: Crandell says that there are at least 4-6 disruption points between sales and marketing. As a result, messages, interactions and conversations may not remain consistent and create confusion and missed opportunities.
- Focus on Tangible Outcomes: The quest for successful customer experiences has to get physical, according to Crandell. One size does not fit all, so the company must know what its customers want next. In order to do this, it has to be about the value gained from making changes.
How Customer-Centric Companies Approach Technology
I don’t have to tell you that companies are eager to implement and deploy systems that may not be compatible with others, all because they may solve just one piece of the puzzle. Before you know it, you’ve got multiple systems that hoard valuable data but are unable to effectively or efficiently share it with others. Crandell says that companies must look at the customer experience management process holistically rather than address it piecemeal.
You can do this by focusing on the process of the first. Identify the touch points. Identify the people behind those touch points. How to they communicate, collaborate and create information?
Then, look at what technology is needed to make the process work better. Crandell warns against patches and connectors, noting that they often promote bad behaviors, rather than create new, better ones.
Companies want to deliver better customer experiences, because they want to be known for their loyal followings. They know loyal, satisfied customers tell their friends and networks about their experiences. The difference between wanting them and having them is how well-invested companies are in changing their organization culture from the inside out.
Photo credit: Shutterstock (marekuliasz)
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