The main reasons customer experience programs fail
By Vicky Katsabaris
For business leaders looking to use customer experience (CX) programs to strategically improve operations, it can be frustrating when programs veer off course, become paralysed under the weight of too much data, or lack leadership sponsorship so they cannot deliver real business insight and improvements. Businesses need to approach CX programs differently.
Most CX programs are not designed with change or innovation in mind, they have ‘soft’ metrics rather than real business goals, and they move slowly and without purpose and lack sufficient CEO sponsorship.
Qualtrics has identified the three major mistakes most organisations make when designing and implementing CX programs.
Mistake #1: Forgoing change and innovation
CX programs must be about change. If the purpose of the program is not about making intelligent changes that benefit the customer and the business that is a serious issue. Performance tracking is essential but, to be useful, it needs to happen consistently and strategically rather than sporadically and without consideration for the overall business goals.
Effective CX programs prioritise what gets measured and stack the data against the desired outcomes. This lets companies achieve the most change in the fewest possible moves, which reduces cost and time-to-benefit.
While analysis enables change, it shouldn’t be mistaken for actual change. It’s just more data until you do something with it. Companies must avoid the common barriers to change such as reporting paralysis, the lack of time to think and strategise, and failure to collaborate effectively.
Reporting paralysis can occur when teams are so wrapped up in distributing data, ensuring data quality, or writing up insights that they forget the purpose of data. If businesses measure and report on everything, they’re not being strategic with their data.
Mistake #2: Linking metrics to business outcomes
Most CX programs use their own tracking measures as emblems of success or failure. If a score improves, that number is heralded and CX teams use it as evidence of innovation and improvement by the team. Often, these results are accepted at face value.
The problem with this approach is you really can’t control all the other things that could cause scores to rise, and you can’t assume that a rise in scores is good for net revenue. When it is time to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the program, be sure to link the operational metrics that help teams focus on the experiences they want to deliver.
There is a place for performance benchmarking survey metrics like net promoter score (NPS) but it’s important to study KPI success or failure with caution. A satisfied customer is not necessarily a profitable one. Work with your CFO to measure customer value.
Mistake #3: Moving slowly, without purpose
A CX program is a living, breathing thing. It’s always in a state of growth, peak productivity or decline. True CX leadership comes from ownership, expertise, resources and empowerment.
There must be a program owner with expertise and a sound knowledge of the business, and they must have a reasonable budget to undertake the program, along with the necessary authority to see it through successfully.
Going slowly when you don’t intend to is clear evidence that the program has slipped into neutral in the leadership camp.
These are the main obstacles and detours that can prevent full ROI from a CX program. To avoid them, it’s important to remember that CX programs are not merely about watching scores go up and down. The goal is to create experiences that add value to the customer and the business simultaneously, and this requires constant change.
Organisations need to invest in a CX platform which is agile, flexible, and self-customisable, like Qualtrics, so as their customers, products/services and markets change, they can adapt quickly and easily to remain competitive.
Vicky Katsabaris is a customer experience consultant at Qualtrics.
A version of this article was originally published in Harvard Business Review on 28 December, 2016. https://hbr.org/2016/12/the-most-common-reasons-customer-experience-programs-fail