Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Corporate CX 7-Year Itch

This is my end-of-year blog for 2017 and, for those that follow me, this blog page will morph into a blog page on my new website that should be going live in January.

In his 2017 end-of-year reflective blog, CX Consultant and colleague Ian Golding wrote about The Customer Experience 7-Year Itch in which he describes the state of the Customer Experience Profession as we approach 2018 and concludes that it’s akin to the marital equivalent of ‘the 7-year itch’ and in seven years since the profession was formally created, with a few notable exceptions, not a great deal has changed for the customer or for the employee—a point to which I completely agree. 

I’ll extend that concept to the organizations that employ the CX professional. There seems to be another 7-year itch at play in the corporate world where organizations that started down that CX path seven years ago have either hit or are approaching that critical 7-year point.  I call this the Corporate CX 7-year itch. This is the point where the initial rise and enthusiasm around CX among leadership peaks and begins to diminish.  More and more questions begin to surface as to what they are getting in return for the investment and in some cases question arise as to why continue to collect voice-of-the-customer particularly when they feel that their customers are happy enough based on the scores they are providing.  Considering added financial pressures to cut costs, they feel they don't need to keep investing as much in CX any longer. 

Some of that could be code for "annual bonus preservation” and this is one way they perceive achieve that.  I left one large public organization after 10 years and ahead of that wave, but the itch started around year seven.  I'm currently working with another organization now where CX just hit the eight-year mark and guess what?  Yes indeed, the itch is well underway there as well.  My sample size may be small here, but I believe I might have identified a new and unique CX 7-year itch.  It’s up to us CX professionals to help relieve the Corporate CX 7-year itch. 

Scientists have found that the reason scratching an itch offers relief is because scratching causes pain, which suppresses the itch.  Now there’s something many corporate leaders can readily identify with - pain points, and the elimination thereof.  It's highly tactical where they don't have to think too much and it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to administer. 

The objective would then be to proactively identify (or perhaps even create) some pain points within the organization where CX serves as the remedy - scratching the itch as it were before it happens. I don't have a readily available example of how this might work in a real corporate situation but this is where creativity come into play.  I could imagine this idea working a lot more easily coming from a CX consultant as I find they are taken a bit more seriously than internal CX resources who have a position and job-security to protect and preserve. 

CX professionals need to ensure that the right approaches, techniques and tools are made available to ensure CX is delivered profitably.  Careful and effective identification of pain-points that are creating customer discontent and potentially limiting revenues and profitability, done right, should start to relieve or prevent that itch.  Perhaps readers working within an organization might have an example of that to share. Feel free to add commentary.

Friday, November 3, 2017

How to Make Communication More Efficient in the Workplace

This guest blog written by Rae Steinbach was submitted to me by David Mizne, chief contributor and editor of the award winning 15Five Blog. Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

Remember when Ford and Bridgestone Firestone lost billions due to a truly avoidable error? The team designing the Ford Explorer didn’t coordinate with the team responsible for the tire design. This resulted in safety issues that forced a recall.

Unfortunately, these types of errors are fairly common. This is especially true in companies that lack organization. Different teams and departments must communicate with one another clearly and regularly in order to avoid making such mistakes. When you prioritize communication, you ensure that everyone is on the same page. The following tips will help:

Accept Feedback

Communication should never be a one-way street, but unless employees know they can (and should) offer their own feedback, it’s unlikely they’ll be eager to share their thoughts.

Employee feedback can be vital in order to show both staff appreciation and to provide constructive criticism.  By encouraging your workers to share their opinions, you’ll boost their overall willingness to communicate.

Establish a Set of Goals and Values

One of the best ways to improve inter-department coordination is, ironically, by focusing on your broader vision for the company at first, instead of the small details. Try to establish a mission statement that’s no more than three sentences long. Once you’ve finalized it, post it regularly in places your employees will see it, like emails, bulletin boards, and marketing materials. It’s easier to improve communication when all team members are united by a common goal.

Train Your Employees Thoroughly

It’s tempting to put new employees to work right away. In the long run it’s better to put your employees through a training program when they first join the company. This streamlines the communication process in the future because they’ll know who they should stay in touch with while working on a project.

Make Sure Key Information is Available to Everyone

When you’re working on a project, you may not have time to provide the supervisors of every other relevant department with constant updates. Instead, create a company wiki or FAQ page where you can post vital info that members of other departments may need. This resource will help prevent miscommunications.

Seek Out Fun Environments

Most employees are more willing to communicate when their guard is down. That’s why it’s often a good idea to hold unofficial “meetings” outside of the office. Bringing your team out to lunch for a few hours will make them more relaxed, and thus more willing to be communicative. Make these outings a regular occurrence throughout the lifespan of a project.  Don’t let lack of communication result in an error that will cost your company money and productivity. Keep these tips in mind, and use them to establish clear and efficient lines of communication throughout the organization.