people riding a ski lift on a snow covered mountain
PHOTO: Urban Sanden

Most brands recognize that customer-listening programs add value to their overall experience. However, almost all struggle to move beyond the basics of satisfaction scores and net promoter scores (NPS). 

This has left brands rescuing unhappy customers, rather than preventing negative experiences in the first place.

What does it take to pursue true customer experience (CX) transformation that provides value beyond metrics and triage? The key is to give new value to the voice of the customer. 

Whatever a brand’s current level of commitment to learning more about consumers may be, all companies can benefit from an increase in the volume of finely tuned feedback they get from customers. Customer voices provide crucial business intelligence that makes it easier to improve every business unit and every employee across a company.

This shift in how brands include customers in success equations is no longer just a nice-to-have. It’s essential.

The Three C’s of a Great Customer Experience

In most cases, poor customer experiences are not the result of a lack of care or interest on a brand’s part. In fact, most organizations recognize, as Walker Information has predicted, that the customer experience will be their key differentiator by 2020. Nonetheless, companies struggle to determine what people like or dislike about their customer journeys (and to what degree they like or dislike those things). And they try to find ways to elevate insights from buzzwords into actionable next steps.

The companies that are winning with CX have established clear business disciplines around the endeavor and bring a customer-obsessed mentality to every decision-making conversation. To create pervasive change like this, here is a look at three factors that brands should consider before undergoing an organizational transformation: capacity, competence and capability — the three C’s of great customer experience.

Capacity

Capacity is an organization’s overall framework and what it is as an entity. Much like a container, an organization’s capacity defines clear boundaries — both where the company can find future success and what is off limits.

To think through capacity, stakeholders might ask questions such as these:

  • What’s our ideal marketplace and business environment, and what do customer segments look like there?
  • How will changing landscapes (political, economic, socio-cultural) impact our ideal marketplace?
  • Do we have a documented brand identity? What are our brand promises?

Before tackling CX transformation, it’s important to get a read on your organization’s overall level of customer-centricity. This reveals where the business can drive and create growth with consumers and where it’s not following through on its promises. Interviewing a cross section of stakeholders on questions like these will quickly reveal an organization’s capacity. Employees should share a vision for who the company is, and mission statements and values should be common knowledge.

Competence

Competence includes the knowledge, skills, attributes, mindsets and behaviors an organization offers. In the world of CX, an organization’s competence directly relates to how well it can leverage these traits to create competitive CX advantages for users.

Here are some starter questions to determine competence:

  • Do we have leaders committed to alleviating customer concerns and innovating CX strategies?
  • Are our front-line employees armed with the skills required to meet 21st-century customer expectations?
  • Can we respond to diverse client needs and preferences with a smart strategy every single time?

Without the right combination of competencies, it’s unlikely that organizations will achieve success with their intended customers. Stakeholders will find it much easier to drum up internal and external support when people trust what a brand brings to the table.

Capability

Capability focuses on what makes a brand unique, or what the brand is known for when it’s at its best. For most organizations, this boils down to the execution of internal processes and systems that help customers in ways that competitors cannot.

Uncovering capability starts with queries like these:

  • Do we use any collective resources to achieve high performance in areas like CX? What about legal compliance? Sustainability?
  • Are we clearly communicating our uniqueness to people?
  • Does what makes us special now solve for future requirements as a company?

To clarify, capability is more so how people perceive an organization, while capacity is how an organization perceives itself. The more unique and high-performing a brand is, the greater its capability.

Taking stock of these three factors opens brands up to better CX transformation programs that are capable of responding to a myriad of customer expectations. Over time, brands can build upon where these characteristics converge. Expanding these three areas together promotes CX as a universal and complex business discipline that all departments should be eager to support.

Getting Started With CX Transformation

Once you have accessed the three C’s of great customer experience, it can feel daunting to turn the lessons learned into large-scale CX improvements. But there are many strategies brands can use to identify gaps and generate early enthusiasm around the initiative. They include thinking holistically, building awareness and promoting CX awareness.

  • Thinking holistically. It’s important to make time for asking questions about CX. This means both assessing where team members are with CX and providing opportunities for people to raise their own concerns. Benchmarking current capabilities gives all employees the same springboard for tomorrow’s CX conversations and points organizations toward their next opportunities.
  • Building awareness. Creating and socializing a CX transformation framework goes a long way toward enabling more employees to get on board with improvements. Adding a layer of CX consciousness encourages people to think in terms of their customers and moves conversations from conversions to experiences. Positive messaging from the top down positions CX as a responsibility all team members should be committed to, and may even pave the way for the emergence of new CX champions and ideas.
  • Promoting CX narratives. Creating rituals and telling stories about CX successes evokes positive emotions at all levels of the business. People need to hear inspiring stories, whether they’re about overcoming a challenge or doing something really well the first time. Becoming a customer-centric organization also involves a simple showing-up factor. More brands are starting to talk about CX metrics and stories at front-line meetings and are developing new company narratives to include CX language.

What’s most important is coming together now, as an organization, around the goal of operating in more customer-centric ways. Making the right CX transformation cannot happen if stakeholders don’t first take a hard look at how customers are already experiencing a brand. Then companies can build upon these insights to develop CX strategies that delight customers and better highlight their unique capacities, competencies and capabilities.