The Importance of a Strong Foundation When Starting a Customer Experience Program

By: Lisa Sigler

August 7, 2014

CEM Programs
CEM Solutions
customer experience management
Customer Feedback

Listening to the Voice of the Customer is critical in today’s business landscape, but it isn’t always easy to implement a successful customer experience (CX) program. While some initiatives take off right away, other organizations find themselves struggling.

If you are finding CX challenging, research shows that you’re not alone. A recent Forrester white paper entitled, “The State of Voice of Customer Programs, 2014: It’s Time to Act,” found that many companies either can’t define or haven’t tried to capture the ROI from their initiatives. The programs aren’t driving action in their organization; existing teams are small, marginalized, lack executive support, and aren’t embedded in the fiber of the company. Similarly, a recent report from Harvard Business Review called, “Lessons from the Leading Edge of Customer Experience Management,” showed that 45% of organizations find it difficult to tie customer experience to business outcomes.

The common thread for many of the organizations facing issues is that their CX programs were started on a flawed foundation. Whether it was spurred by crisis, demand, or desire, these companies started their CX initiatives with the best of intentions. But in order for an organization to gain success, customer experience management can’t happen as a side project or in a vacuum. It needs to be as well thought out, defined, and sponsored as any other corporate initiative that affects the products and services sold.

So, how can you avoid experiencing these stumbling blocks?

1. Define your possible ROI before you start.  If you can’t do it yourself, leading providers in the CX space can partner with you on business value assessments that can help you understand your anticipated ROI. If the vendor you are considering can’t support this, they aren’t partnering with you for long term success. You must be able to define the ROI; it will absolutely be expected by the executive level. Save yourself some agony and do it at the start.

2. Prioritize Your Goals. As much as everyone wants to listen to every piece of customer feedback and solve every possible customer issue right from the start, it’s just not practical to expect that on day one. Pick the top two or three issues that you will tackle and solve those. Learn valuable lessons from your experiences and then move on to tackle the next set of issues- adding data sources as you go.
3. Involve the Organization. Improved customer experience comes from acting on customer feedback, not just listening to it. The people that make those actions happen are employees throughout your organization who are already tasked and busy. Win them over by involving them in a way that helps them understand the core mission, excites them, and explains their part in the process. This includes senior leadership all the way to field level employees. Send everyone involved reports that help them in their day to day role; apprise them of wins and celebrate successes. Improving NPS, SAT scores, or sentiment can’t be done by a team of 5 people in a back office. It really does take a village.

There’s no luck or magic that makes your organization passionate about customer experience and turns you into a CX superstar. The leaders in customer experience work hard at it, and that work starts with a strong foundation that is constantly evaluated and reinforced. Start strong to ensure you’re prepared for the road ahead.

Lisa Sigler is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Clarabridge. For over 16 years, Lisa has used her writing and editorial skills to bring the value and benefits of technology to life. In her current role, she works to demonstrate Clarabridge’s position as thought leader and trailblazer in the Customer Experience Management market. Lisa holds a B.A. of English from Kent State University. Read more from Lisa on Twitter @siglerLis.