13 Reasons Why CX Needs An Overhaul
Allow me to have a moment of realness here before we hop in.
The past few weeks have felt like a whirlwind of work, more work, and, well, just life.
My wife is deep into her clinical rotations, and our 2-year-old has discovered the joy of talking non-stop.
Amidst this chaos, I've realized I haven't taken enough time for myself. I’ve worked more hours than I ever have and taken less time for myself than I should.
This is where I need a favor from you: Please hold me accountable for two things:
Take a Real Vacation: I haven't had a proper vacation in a year, and it's high time I remedy that. I promise to plan and take a real vacation before the end of this year.
Get Outside Daily: Whether it’s a walk around the block or just a few moments in the garden, I aim to step outside at least once a day. Sometimes, a breath of fresh air is all it takes to reset.
Also, I can’t wait to have dinner with the legendary Michael Bair tonight; it’s always a vibe.
Lastly, I want to share a quote from Anne Lamott that I shared here almost a year ago that still resonates:
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Even you."
Here's to unplugging and finding our centers again,
Now, let’s chat.
As you may have seen, I have started working with Gorgias on a CX guidebook, and in the process, I have been thinking about a very simple but important question:
What are easy ways for anyone, at any size brand, to create an exceptional customer experience without breaking the bank?
We often talk about Zappos and Chewy with large teams and even larger budgets. But how can your corner liquor store or small skincare startup deliver experiences worth getting excited about?
I’ve got some ideas.
Before we get into it, a massive shout-out to Insense for sponsoring this week’s newsie.
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Here are a few ways that you can shift your CX from mediocre to memorable without breaking the bank, and certainly without hiring huge teams to deploy.
1. Policy as a Framework, Not a Law:
As CX teams get started, I often see the first mission being to deploy as many SOPs and policies as possible.
Frankly, it took me a few years to even implement hardcore SOPs because, as an early CX leader, my aim was to inspire with a mission and a vision and hire people I trusted and believed had the same passion I did about delivering that experience.
As the team continues to grow and you start onboarding new CX’ers, it becomes clear that setting clear policies and escalation strategies is imperative to scale.
Still, I actually see it do the opposite far too often:
A team with tight policies and strict guidelines generally strips CX’ers of what they are best at: going with their gut and delivering magical experiences.
Obviously, there is a middle ground here, which is this:
Create policies as a guide to share what your max and minimum you can offer as compensation or remedy a negative experience, and focus more on inspiring your team to create magic.
2. Hire Great Talent and Get Out of Their Way:
Obviously, this advice comes up over and over across all parts of the business, so why am I highlighting this in CX?
Well, I think we are well aware of the common misconception that CX is easy, and that anyone can do it, and that it is an entry-level job.
Generally, what ends up happening is that regardless of the person you brought in to lead CX, more of the leadership has thoughts on CX than any other part of the business.
Ops? Can’t have strong opinions if you don’t really know how fulfillment and Netsuite work, and we mostly trust the folks doing it.
CX? Everyone has opinions on what can be done better, and we generally see more micromanagement here than in any other part of the business.
3. Hire for Passion, Train for excellence:
This one is more relevant for associate roles than Manager, Director, or above.
The gist is this:
Someone with a bunch of years of experience working CX at a company with mediocre CX might be burned out, uninterested, and less effective than someone with a passion for hospitality and delivering great experiences.
Hire for passion, train for excellence.
4. Empower Through Technology, But Don’t Lose the Human Touch:
It's tempting to throw technology at problems, especially when the costs of advanced CRMs and AI bots are plummeting.
But remember, your technology should be a tool for your CX team, not a replacement.
If all your customer remembers is talking to a robotic voice or clicking through a maze of options, you’ve missed an opportunity to connect.
Instead, leverage technology to get rid of the mundane tasks that can free up your team's time for meaningful, personal interactions.
5. A Good Feedback Loop is Gold:
No amount of internal meetings can replace direct feedback from your customers. But what do you do with that feedback?
You loop it back into training and improving your policies. Keep an open channel with your customers, perhaps through periodic surveys or a feedback link in every interaction, and then ACT on it.
This helps you identify the small frictions that may not seem like a big deal but can make or break the customer experience.
As an added bonus, it will help you create ads that speak to your potential customers by truly understanding the “job” your products are doing for them.
6. The Frontline Knows Best:
Your frontline customer service agents are the eyes and ears of your operation. They're your company's first responders and should be treated as invaluable assets.
Regularly check in with them for insights because they often know where the pitfalls are long before you see them reflected in metrics.
Plus, when they feel heard and valued, their job satisfaction goes up, and so does the quality of their customer interactions.
7. Loyalty Programs that Actually Reward:
Loyalty programs are a dime a dozen these days. But a loyalty program that actually makes the customer feel special is rare.
Reevaluate your loyalty programs to ensure that they are not just another hoop for the customer to jump through, but genuinely rewarding.
Points are nice, but personalized recommendations, early-access promotions, or an unexpected freebie can go a long way.
8. The Role of Storytelling in CX:
Your brand story isn't just for your 'About Us' page. It should be the undercurrent in every customer interaction.
Help your CX team understand and internalize the brand story, making them not just support agents but storytellers.
When they can infuse the brand essence into resolutions and conversations, it elevates the entire experience.
9. Data Isn’t Just Numbers, It’s Narratives:
Having a data-driven strategy is great, but don't forget to read between the lines.
Behind every metric is a human story. Dive deep into the analytics, but pair that with qualitative insights.
Often, customer testimonials or the context around a negative review can reveal more about your CX weak points than a bunch of sterile data points.
10. Great CX Is Silent:
One of the most counterintuitive signs of a superb CX strategy is silence.
When everything is going right, your inbox isn't flooded with customer complaints, your social media isn't ablaze with negative comments, and your team's weekly report is oddly quiet.
The numbers may be shouting, with NPS, CSAT, and CES scores all on the rise and some positive feedback, but the lack of 'firefighting' is your real victory.
A silent CX landscape usually indicates that things are running smoothly, and the leader can tell by the absence of noise that they're on the right track.
While marketplaces like the Zappos and Chewys of the world may create buzz with handwritten cards and 24/7 support, the reality is that most brands don't need all the bells and whistles to achieve an excellent CX.
At the end of the day, it’s about a great product supported by a hassle-free experience.
Which leads us to…
11. The Best CX Won't Transform a Sh*t Product:
It’s tempting to think of CX as the band-aid for a subpar product.
Spoiler alert: it’s not. If your product is flawed, no amount of customer service excellence can save it.
CX is indeed powerful, but it’s not a magician that can turn a pumpkin into a carriage. Your product needs to solve a problem or fill a need effectively for your CX strategies to genuinely shine.
When the product is weak, customer complaints will keep coming no matter how swiftly and charmingly they're handled. Before investing heavily in CX, make sure you've got a product that’s worth the customer’s time and your efforts.
12. A Culture of Ownership:
Customer experience is not a department; it's a company-wide culture.
In order to make a significant impact, CX needs to be understood and appreciated across the org.
It’s the front face of the brand, and aside from billboards or ads, the only real memorable touchpoint a customer has with you.
Great CX transforms your experience, and bad CX makes you eager to never shop there again.
Everyone, from the CEO to the intern, should feel responsible for it. When you instill a sense of ownership throughout the company, you'll find that good CX ideas can come from the most unexpected corners.
13. CX Needs a Seat at the Table:
Traditionally, the big seats at the corporate table have been reserved for roles focused on Finance, Operations, Marketing, and Sales.
However, as the significance of customer experience continues to escalate, it's evident that CX deserves, and increasingly receives, a seat at that table.
Why? Because CX is not just a department; it's the voice of the customer across your organization.
It can be the tipping point that turns brand neutrality into brand advocacy or, conversely, brand hostility.
Wouldn’t you want the voice of your customer at the table?
The hiring landscape is reflecting this shift.
A study by Gartner underscored the momentum of this. Gartner says that nearly 90% of organizations now have a Chief Experience Officer (CXO), Chief Customer Officer (CCO), or equivalents, going from about 60% in 2017.
So, if CX is your primary customer touchpoint, the key to either love or despair for your brand, doesn’t it just make common sense for CX leaders to have a say in high-level decisions?
Businesses of all sizes are answering this question with their actions, integrating CX management roles into their executive strategy discussions more than ever before. Consider doing the same!
That’s it for this week!
Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?
Just shoot me a DM or an email!