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Leaders of professional services firms who are tasked with implementing CX programs are often looking for the best way to join the Client Experience movement without too much distraction from the day-to-day operation of their businesses.  In some cases, CX leaders strapped with low levels of executive and employee support, feel like they have to somehow make a CX transformation happen without their leadership and employees knowing there ever was a CX initiative. This is a reality of change acceptance in many organizations. Seems impossible to do.

There is a wide range of intention and understanding among our clients, and most often we hear two ends of the spectrum at once.  Leaders want to keep people focused and working on the core or focal point objectives of their jobs and the collective purpose of the firm, while at the same time creating what some might say is a new “CX obsessed culture.”  In many cases it can feel like an either-or scenario.

Executives that have been tasked with any size or shape of CX implementation understand that ignoring CX is no longer an option, diving in is an expensive and risky proposition, and the last thing they want is a costly hologram of effort that really doesn’t stick and ends up being a waste of energy.  Unfortunately, this is all too often the outcome at the end of many CX efforts.

We’ve found that all CX transformations differ in one very fundamental way – CX practitioners shouldn’t stop at selling you a ticket and handing you a map for your journey – they should take the trip with you, guiding your organization at every step—walking every path through the resistance with you.  The simple reason is that your culture is the engine of change—not the initiative, itself. Achieving a CX obsessed culture is not the same thing as implementing a CX program. If you’ve implemented a CX initiative without doing the work of engaging your broader culture in the change, chances are you have a CX hologram—a hyper real corporate mirage that everyone can walk around and see but mysteriously vanishes when you look away.

There are so many CX professionals out there who really do understand and believe in the transformative power of creating that CX obsessed organization – they know it exists, they’ve seen evidence of how it can drive the way a company performs, and they love to talk about this promised land. Problem is, they either believe it’s too impossible to realize or they resign themselves to believe that they’ve done enough, thus choosing to leave well enough alone.

To know if you’re embarking on a real, full-scale CX transformation—or merely a CX hologram ask yourselves these simple questions:

  • Is everyone from the front line to the boardroom able to explicitly state your company’s unique point of view of CX? This is your company’s ‘why’ statement behind the CX initiative. It’s strong, easy to state, believable and can be shaped into a drumbeat. Example: “CX will enable us to increase customer/client intimacy to the point that everyone we do business with will feel like they’re our only concern. This will be tested by our ongoing ability to drive personalized experiences across the channel of their choice consistently and effectively.”
  • Is everyone developing new obsessions with how to get to know the customer better by mining data differently or more expansively? And are they doing it in a way that helps everyone (across silos) by sharing more information about the company’s customers? Example: Have you created a CX Center of Excellence where customer data and insights are centralized and readily available to everyone regardless of their position or job description? And are there intrinsic rewards (even if it’s a shout-out from an executive) when people use the data/insights to improve access to a customer’s need/expectation/behavior/action and share it out to permeate the broader culture?
  • Are leadership and teams prioritizing work on the positive impact it can have on customer relationships in a way that is evident that the company values this shift over the work of status quo? Example: Is the company publishing a live roster of CX-based projects with active prioritization in play? Is this roster being managed in a way that illustrates the company is putting its money where its mouth is by sacrificing resources in service of improving customer relationships?
  • Are executives making obvious trade-offs that paint a clear and unambiguous picture that they, themselves, believe in the CX initiative and are leading by example? Example: is the CEO keeping CX on the executive agenda for all C-level teams to champion in their respective groups? Do the employees see the C-level making decisions on a regular basis that illustrate their strong and serious commitment to the initiative?

If ever there was time for those of us who work as CX change agents and organizational development professionals to get orthodox about creating a sense of urgency it is in the way we help our clients’ organizations to absorb CX into their cultures.

While successful CX initiatives ought to be thoroughly outside-in endeavors where organizations sponge up all the customer data and insights possible and operationalize them toward customer success—adopting CX with maximal cultural absorbency operates in the opposite direction. It’s a thoroughly inside-out operation where everyone works in support of the company’s unique point of view on CX becomes second nature.

And when the lights turn off and everyone goes home for the day, the CX initiative still remains materially strong—differentiated from the competitors who work to keep their hologram animated.

Jaime Spreitzer is a Principal Consultant for CX Pilots. Jaime is a full life-cycle business transformation leadership strategist and cultural change initiative expert – from visioning sessions through the implementation and measurement of organizational strategies. Effective builder of consensus in diverse organizations through proven creative and inventive methods.