Where are you focused as a CX leader?

Customer experience (CX) is a broad discipline that requires integrating a range of skills and collaborating within and outside your organization to achieve results. In most organizations the people, processes, and technology that enable a better CX are spread across multiple places in the organization, whether functions, strategic business units, or geographies, even when they have built up a centralized CX team. Driving greater organizational effectiveness to address your “bold bets” and your “brilliant basics” for your CX requires fusing diverse perspectives across human-centered design, enterprise agility, data science, quality management, change management, and organizational design (and this list is not exhaustive). CX is a team sport that requires executive sponsorship and collaboration among your leaders, managers, and frontline employees to drive results.

For these reasons, if you ask CX leaders what the problem statements they are focused on addressing are, you’ll get a broad set of answers. CX leaders need to prioritize which problem statements they focus on, in what order, and how they can best engage and evolve their organization’s maturity to address them.

That said, I’ve found that these problem statements typically fall into one of four complementary categories. Taken together, they help you drive more value through a combination of better, faster, and cheaper. The right balance for you will depend on your own company’s strategy and capability maturity, and the unique trade-offs you make across value and ease of execution.

Read on for an initial summary of the four areas. I’ll then follow up with a blog series dedicated to each of them over the coming weeks. I’ll also be ramping up a set of videos and podcasts that dive deeper into these topics, showcasing a set of guests that I hope you’ll find valuable.

The problem statements are all written with the same format: As a CX leader, I need to do X. Think of the text in blue in the exhibit as level one problem statements. Then the text below the level one problem statements are level two problem statements that drill down on ways you can solve the level one problem statements.

As a CX leader, I need to Reimagine Insights

Insights are the spark for great customer experiences. You must make investments in this area to enable your efforts on the other level one problem statements. The same is true for driving change and evolving the culture, which makes or breaks your program success and amplifies the ROI you achieve.

This is why I started on this blog series first among the four. You can find the blogs I’ve written so far for Reimagining Insights here. There are more to come for this series, even as I start to flesh out the other three series, too.

I’ve been collaborating on the Reimagining insights series with Lou Carbone, a dear friend and mentor. You may have also seen my review of his book, Clued In, or the video interview I did with Lou (found here together with video interviews of other strategic partners for JourneySpark Consulting).

As Lou and I discuss in the video, companies are making the transition from an Industrial Age approach to experience management to one that is better aligned to the needs of the Experience Economy. They are transitioning from a make-and-sell approach to a more customer-driven model. They are overcoming siloed approaches to creativity and analytics, building a more integrated, data-driven approach to evoking emotions along the customer journey. They are broadening their emphasis from rational thinking and what people are doing along the customer journey, paying deeper attention to unconscious thought and what people are feeling along the customer journey. They are addressing the long lags to generating insights that inhibit their ability to drive continuous improvement in their CX, feeding the teams working on their bold bets and brilliant basics with more regular and actionable insights. And as we will reinforce further in the fourth level one collection of problem statements for change management and culture, they are building a movement among their leaders, managers, and frontline employees that helps them get from data to knowledge to wisdom and become a more adaptive enterprise (see also my book review for Adaptive Enterprise by Stephan Haeckel here, whom Lou collaborated with on some of their earlier, pioneering work that shaped the experience management space).

As a CX leader, I need to Amplify Innovation

Elevating the profile of CX at your company requires shifting beyond just “draining the pain” and helping enhance your company’s innovation effectiveness. 

Any one of these areas requires significant attention to drive results. What choices are you making and are you getting the results you need?

As a CX leader, I need to Accelerate Value

A lot of CX leaders are tasked with building a business case for investment in the capabilities required to deliver a better CX and drive their desired business outcomes. While building a more rigorous business case can be valuable, this frames the challenge too narrowly, and risks bogging down your organization in paralysis by analysis. What CX leaders really need to do is build a self-sustaining movement in their company that provides a flywheel for growth. The business case can help, but what really matters is ongoing iteration to amplify and extend the impact on value realization. If you focus on building a flywheel and putting in place the right insights and measurements that enable you to both drive and track value realization, you will generate orders of magnitude more value. Your business case then becomes a living model for your business, rather than a once-and-done exercise.

In practice, I find there are three pathways to accelerate value.  All lead to self-funding flywheels where the value created early on enables an expanded level of investment over time that makes the flywheel spin even faster.

Typically, cost savings are used as a catalyst to enhance and accelerate your ability to pursue the other two pathways to value. The economic value of the first two is orders of magnitude higher but take more time – though you can drive some quick hits for the first two as well even as you scale up what is working best. Building momentum and capturing savings from the third helps build and sustain executive support to fund the broader program and generates savings that can be ploughed back into capability investment to further accelerate your flywheel for growth.

As a CX leader, I need to Drive Change and Evolve the Culture

Many of you have heard or referred to the famous quote yourself that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Bonus points if you knew this was said by Peter Drucker, the famous strategy guru. Drucker didn’t mean that strategy is unimportant, but rather that paying close attention to culture is key to ensuring the success of your strategic initiatives. Said another way, it’s not enough to pay attention to change management to de-risk your investments in business transformation. Your approach to change management needs to be culture-led.

Culture-led change has been a focus for me over my own professional career. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing colleagues at the Katzenbach Center while at Booz & Company and later PwC. Jon Katzenbach (Katz), who I would argue is to culture what Peter Drucker is to strategy, became a partner for the third time in his career the same year that I did at Booz & Company in 2008, when he sold Katzenbach Partners to Booz & Company and joined the firm (the first time he made partner was at McKinsey). The Katzenbach Center later became one of the two sub-brands at PwC in addition to Strategy&, which was what Booz & Company was renamed after it was acquired by PwC. You can find several of my favorite articles that I’ve collaborated on over the years that touch on the intersection of culture, change management, customer experience, and enterprise agility here. I also recommend checking out my review for Leading Outside the Lines, which is one of many influential books by Katz.

Here are a few questions to get you started as you think about the right problem statements to focus on for applying culture-led change to accelerate value for your investments in CX.

These four level one problem statements are meant to be mutually reinforcing. You do need to make choices, however, given limited resources and the need to generate results to sustain motivation and commitment to change in your organization. 

What choices are right for you? How can you build an aligned strategy, operating model, and culture that drive the best results? I’m looking forward to the conversations in the coming weeks as I share the blogs, videos, and podcasts for each of these problem statements with you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and share your own sparks of inspiration!