Businesses trying to get a customer experience program off the ground often forget one key aspect in their planning — organizational alignment. 

Customer experience programs require new organizational capabilities — which require people in the organization to perform new activities and use new tools. Organizational alignment is critical here, because it makes it clear to everyone involved in the program what’s expected of them, regardless of their department.

It's human nature to stick with the status quo, especially when it delivers what's needed. Changing and expanding organizational capabilities requires change. 

Individuals and departments facing change need to know how these changes will affect expectations for their jobs. For change to succeed, everyone involved needs to work towards a new common goal. Successful change requires planning and forethought, and while this may be hard at times, reduces risks in the long run by planning rather than reacting.

Let’s look at best practices for successfully expanding customer experience capabilities in your organization.

Define How the CX Program Will Impact Key Business Outcomes

Define the scope of the effort and which roles will be involved. Look holistically, rather than piecemeal, when defining the scope of business processes and tools that the program will impact. 

Improving CX often improves aspects of the business beyond the immediate bottom-line. 

A leading computer maker initiated an enterprise-wide CX program with the goal of increasing customer retention. The company determined a 1 percent increase in customer retention could provide up to 300 percent ROI. Other measures included increasing customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and reducing response times to customer inquiries. 

But none of this can be accomplished without executive-level support — and obtaining this support requires relating CX to clear business outcomes.

Design New Processes and Tools to Support New Capabilities

With the business goals set, the next step is identifying which processes you need to change to realize the improvement goals. 

These processes often span multiple departments, functions and may require new IT tools. Designing (or redesigning) the processes and tools requires a cross-functional team with a sharp focus on understanding the customer’s perspective and expectations. 

Make any changes with the customer in mind, not for ease of internal operations. For example, if your process involves asking a customer for information to identify themselves, make sure you use that information. 

Businesses often ask customers multiple times for the same information, such as their account numbers. While different parts of the organization may need this information, from the customer's point of view it's a hassle and makes them question why your business doesn't have it together enough to share information. 

Establish Clear, Common Metrics

Any CX process (re)design should include developing metrics for each role involved in the process. Once metrics are established for all roles, compare all of the metrics to ensure none conflict with each other (for example, increasing the number of cases addressed per hour, while also increasing the amount of customer data gathered during each engagement).

Relate Metrics to Role and Job Descriptions

Update every person involved in the process with the new measures for evaluating success. Everyone on the team should know what they're expected to deliver on on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

What Gets Rewarded Gets Repeated

Make the phrase “what gets rewarded gets repeated” your mantra when developing recognition and reward systems. Note: rewards do not have to be monetary!

Recognition is an important reward and motivator that can spur competition from others who crave recognition. Recognition and rewards systems play a critical part in anchoring change with the new organizational goals. 

A best-known-method is to set up a calendar for regular employee recognition events. Schedule the events frequently to recognize behaviors and outcomes that help deliver results

How Do You Define Success?

Implementing a new program or restarting a program that falls short of goals requires leadership dedicated to the task at hand. Having a well thought-out, planned approach that aligns everyone involved in the process greatly increases the likelihood that new capabilities will be successful.

Here’s an easy survey to see if you’ve achieved success: Ask people how they know if they are successful in their role … and see if they mention the new metrics. If you don’t hear them mentioned, the capability may not stick around for the long-haul.

I define success as everyone doing their job and the business meeting its outcomes six months after implementation. You need time to have new capabilities embedded into the fabric of the company.

Title image "Birds Aligned" (CC BY 2.0) by  Grdym