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BLOG:Customer Experience: The Danger of Checking the Boxes

Customer Experience: The Danger of Checking the Boxes

Customer Experience isn’t a project; it’s a cultural shift using executives and employees.

We’ve run across quite a few companies over the past year who have a strong interest in customer experience (CX) and all the glories it can bring to their organization. The reward for doing CX correctly is great: more loyal and delighted customers, increased ROI for the bottom line, a strategic advantage in the marketplace, and even more satisfied employees. However, we’ve seen a problem rising up and it’s not an easy one: some of these companies are treating CX like a project and believe that all they have to do is “have some executive meetings” or “check the boxes in the project plan” and everything will fall into place.

No, it won’t.

If you (as an organization) approach CX from a project mindset ONLY (note the “only” there…), you will get exactly what you plan for: a set of accomplished steps you can check off of a project plan and maybe some new processes and/or teams to go with it.

But it isn’t really a CX focus. That’s just a CX project.

So how do we not make it just a project?

Well, it’s easy to say, but not so easy to do. When you are talking about creating a CX-focused culture, it actually has to be engrained and embedded into the very fabric of your company. That means that it’s best embraced when it’s not just an executive action or grassroots effort, but both.

Paul Hagen, Principal Analyst at Forrester focused on helping Customer Experience Professionals, notes that, “If firms haven’t aligned their cultures to fulfill their promises, employees won’t deliver, and customer satisfaction will plummet.”1

I wholeheartedly agree.

When executives believe, even with the best of intentions, that the CX efforts need to be “driven, decided upon, and trumpeted” by the executive team, they are missing half the point of customer experience engagement: their employees.

The employees have to be involved! And most of the time, they want to be involved in driving it too! They are the ones that more than likely have the most contact with the organization’s customers- whether through customer service, sales, onsite implementations, or face-to-face engagement in a store. They are more than likely the front lines- the ones making the very real, very deliberate, very memorable impact to the customer experience every day…sometimes even every hour or minute! They are the ones that know what really happens in the trenches, not just projected in a process.

To not include them as part of the mix is, at best, an oversight and, at worst, a strategic mistake encased in ego.

By mixing the efforts, abilities, vision, and authority of the executives with the experience, knowledge, and empowered authority of the employees and utilizing an organizational change methodology to bring the two together in real actions, you can get on the path to cultural change. If either begins to be weighed more heavily than the other, the entire effort can get out of balance.

So tread carefully, you executives. And be vocal, you non-executives. You are both an integral part of shifting your culture and it works best when you plan it together.


1. Paul Hagen, “How to Build a Customer-Centric Culture; by Forrester Research, November 2010.