Top 5 CX habits for 2019: Focus on Innovation and Action

By Claire Sporton, SVP, Customer Experience Innovation, Confirmit

Can you believe we are well into February already? Have you recovered from the inevitable round of 2019 kick-off and planning meetings? Are you back in the swing of things? Jolly good. Now, onto more important matters – how many New Year’s Resolutions have you managed to maintain? Don’t worry, I’m not asking about going to the gym or doing Dry January, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. I mean Customer Experience resolutions.

Hopefully you have embraced the first of the five CX habits that we shared at the beginning of January – Start-as-you-mean-to-go-on – and are working hard to define goals and business outcomes for your CX programme.

Just in case you need a little help maintaining the momentum for change, let’s talk about the second habit that CX Leaders all demonstrate as further inspiration!

Habit #2 – Think Innovation (and Action)

Our research into the ‘Habits of highly effective CX professionals’ shows that the ability of a CX programme to drive innovation is the number two driver of CX success.

Now, I know what you are going to say. Everyone accepts that innovation is a good idea but I really can’t stress enough that it’s particularly important – read mission critical – for CX professionals.

Why? Because if CX activities are not driving innovation across the company, CX is likely to remain a niche interest or role at best, and a footnote in your organisation’s history at worst.

In other words, you will be less likely to deliver value across the organisation and it will be much harder to secure an increase in the CX budget, both of which are key requirements in our definition of what makes a CX Leader, not a CX Laggard.

It should come as no surprise then that the research found that 51% of those identified as Leaders agreed strongly that their programme is driving innovation, compared to only 16% of Laggards. It should be equally obvious that if programmes are not resulting in innovation and action, they will be regarded as pointless and not worthy of additional funding!

The crux of the problem lies in the fact that Laggards don’t invest in programmes that drive change. They don’t see any results from their programmes because they are only focusing on capturing feedback and not doing anything with the results.

This failure to act on insight is an age-old problem for CX but the solution is simple. Change the goal posts. Move away from monitoring the customer experience to monitoring the level of change across the organisation.

A force for change

70% of the CX Leaders we interviewed suggested that investing in initiatives that turn the Voice of the Customer into a force for change was key to their success.

They recommended that the most important thing for anyone starting a CX programme is to “Think Action” first and then focus on executive buy-in. Hopefully this drives home my point about the critical nature of both action and change for programme survival. It’s not just about getting management onside. It’s about delivering what management needs to build a thriving business.

10% of our respondents made it clear that change initiatives that provide the ability to take action to respond to customers and to make business-level changes can be a significant source of pride, as well as a driver of investment.

When asked where they would most like to see investment, over 50% of those surveyed also said that they would like to see investment in more advanced CX platforms. The focus was on solutions that provide analytics that actually support team members in making a decision. Most importantly, businesses need to then be able to track the action they take based on that decision, either at an individual, closed-loop capacity or at a more strategic level.

I think it’s important to stress at this point that investment in technology will not magically result in innovation and action. It is only human beings – our team mates who will come up with new ideas and innovations. Yes, data, AI and technology can play an extremely useful supporting role – making sense of many data points, prioritising different options and communicating personalised recommendations across the organisation. But don’t expect exciting new ideas to come from a piece of tech. We need to think of technology as augmenting the human, doing the ‘heavy lifting’ on our behalf, reducing the need to ask questions and giving individuals the ability to innovate and act on insight to improve both the customer experience and business results.

So far nothing new I hear you say. And yes, your reports and dashboards are communicating the issues – but I would challenge you to question if your communications are acting as a catalyst for innovation and change. Is there a clear call to action? Can you actually track the action that is being taken based on the insights? In my view the secret to creating a healthy habit and approach to innovation and action, lies in:

  • Ownership of action: Ensuring that the insights clearly identify who needs to do something differently. They need to make their own decision about the action that needs to be taken, but your programme should ensure that owners are identified.
  • Monitoring that something changes: Once owners have been identified we need to hold their feet to the flame and ensure that something happens, potential options for improvement are reviewed and acted on.
  • Tracking the impact of action – thinking beyond the CX metric. It’s all very well taking action, but to prove ROI and support your business case long-term, you need to understand what actually happened. This relates back to our first habit, but it bears repeating. Do not think of your action as purely driving your CX metric of choice. Yes, that’s very nice, but that cannot be your end goal. If your metric improves – great! But you need to relate this back to a business-critical outcome – be that revenue growth, reduction in churn or cost containment.
  • Sharing the results of your actions. Go back to your teams and customers to tell them what you’ve done to drive change. The old “You Said, We Did” approach is a powerful one – and too often forgotten. Internally, it drives engagement and externally, it helps boost response rates, builds loyalty and proves you are “walking the walk”.

Those of us that are committed to coaching the wider business about customer experience are working hard to drive home the importance of innovation and acting on insight. Lessons can be learned from each and every CX programme. Experts make the best teachers.

Join the conversation: How are you driving innovation across your organisation? What measures have you put in place to measure change, not just feedback? What tips can you share that will help CX professionals ‘Think Innovation (and Action)? Tweet me at @ClaireSporton