This year I will get fit!

Talking about fitness the day after Easter is probably an oxymoron, but I’m sure that many people today will be thinking about it, while staring at the piles of left over chocolate. After all, most of us will agree that fitness is important, whether because we believe that it will help us face what the future brings and make us feel good with ourselves, or because we are driven by a motivation to be more attractive to our partner or ready for the summer.

But let’s be honest…  after the comparable indulgencies of Christmas, how many of you made the New Year resolution to get healthier and fitter this year by starting to go to the gym or running, commencing a new diet or even taking care of your mental fitness by practicing mindfulness? The true question is, having made that decision, how many of you actually started it in January and more importantly… how many of you stuck to it until Easter or at least long enough to actually achieve your goals?

While we believe that being fit is important, getting from that thought to action is not easy, and even less easy is keeping up with it until we achieve the right results. Just ticking the box of going to the gym once or twice a week, then pigging out every night or polishing off a few bottles of wine will not get us there – and I just wish that my husband understood that…!

A healthy CX improves the fitness of the organisation

The fitness levels of the organisation are just as important as our personal ones. Also our organisation needs to be fit and healthy to face the future and I personally believe that focusing on the customer experience is essential to achieve that. If you have a healthy CX, your organisation will be fitter in the longer run – to attract customers and keep their interest, to have the capabilities and energy to run faster and compete successfully and in a sustainable way in the marathon of an ever-changing business world.

However, as I already outlined in my previous blog “Too many casualties on the CX battlefield”, over the last three years, 93% of CX initiatives failed to create competitive differentiation and only 23% achieved tangible benefits from their investments. These are high failure rates and it could be easy to draw the conclusion that CX doesn’t work. But is that really true?

Like in the example above, the good resolution to ‘put the customer at the heart’ is only the beginning. The most important thing is to execute that decision well and with the right focus and preparation, over time. If you have never run before, starting by attempting a marathon will only end up in disaster and create more damage than benefits. If you do not have the physical capability to run, you first need to learn, engaging a personal trainer, educating your body and building up your strengths and stamina, progressively and continuously over a period of time. You need to achieve a certain level of fitness in order to complete a marathon successfully.

The same applies for CX. Like for most things, you need to be able to approach CX transformation in the right way. Do you have the right strategic skills and tools to design your customer experience? Are you basing your decisions on the right insight and data? Are you investing the right resources and focus on the CX programme? And are you making the other organisational and cultural changes required to make it succeed?

‘CX objectives’ are not separate from ‘business objectives’

In fact, at a time when customer experience features in some shape at every executive table, I am still shocked to see how many bad experiences are inflicted upon us as customers.

I would not be surprised to hear that most organisations set out some CX objectives and priorities at the beginning of each financial year. But I have seen many times that, in the annual race to corporate targets, the half-year buoy turn drives a change of direction in more than one way. If financial performance is not as expected, CX investment becomes one of the first to be cut, when instead the question should be, “Are we driving CX in the right way to achieve the right results?”

This is the time CX initiatives are replaced by a focus on cutting costs and pushing sales – and this often leads to even worse outcomes for customers, further compromising the long-term fitness and profitability of the organisation. A crash diet can shed many kilos very quickly, but it will never be sustainable and often people end up piling on even more weight shortly thereafter. Similarly, cutting costs without thinking about the impact on customers can damage the customer experience and therefore lead to faster decline in revenues or a mad last-quarter panic, with sudden redundancies or other radical cost cuts which will weaken the business even more. On the other hand, inwardly looking at existing products and services and pushing them out indistinctively, bombarding customers with one-size-fits-all communications and promotions, may end up in annoying them and losing them even faster.

Starting from the customer

CX should be one of the key objectives of every business initiative, if not the leading one, because every decision should start from considering the impact on and benefits for customers.

If costs need to be controlled, why not start from those that impact the customer experience negatively? Complicated processes, service failure, inefficient distribution, uncontrolled supply chain, manual activities, duplication of tasks, unclear accountability, broken hand-offs between departments, sub-optimal channel capabilities etc. are often a root cause of poor customer experience. Through CX design, all these can be turned into improved customer journeys that also strip off unnecessary costs and inefficiencies from the business – in a sustainable and value-creating way.

When revenue growth is the primary aim, why not start from identifying the unmet customer needs and designing the right value propositions and distribution channels? If customers are not buying what we offer, it indicates that we are not doing things right. Wrong products, unclear benefits, complicated features, inaccessible services, clunky distribution channels, insufficient guidance and advice, lack of support, inaccurate targeting, poor segmentation analysis… and the list goes on.

In conclusion, if you think you weigh too much, would you cut off one of your limbs or a few muscles to reduce your weight, or would you start focusing on improving your fitness levels to make your overall body leaner, healthier and fitter?

The right CX focus helps you build the organisational fitness you need to achieve your corporate objectives in a sustainable way. If you want to assess the CX fitness level of your organisation and CX programme, get in touch today to discuss how my tested CX Fitness Check can help. 



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