5 Steps To Realizing Your Experience Program’s Goals

The road to true Experience Improvement (XI) is rarely a straightforward one. There are many ways to take the journey, as countless companies have discovered over the last 10-15 years, but only experience improvement produces the type of customer connections and employee passion that turns companies from followers to true leaders within their verticals.

I talked about realizing experience program goals and success in a recent POV, but I think it’s time to talk briefly about how companies get there. What are steps brands take to get to realizing their goals, and how can they ensure that realization truly means transformational success? Our framework is designed to help companies get there, and it consists of five steps:

  1. Design
  2. Listen
  3. Understand
  4. Transform
  5. Realize

Step #1: Design

I’ve seen a lot of brands kick their experience programs off by turning listening posts on and then forming goals around whatever feedback they can find. It’s much more effective, though, to come at this step in the opposite direction: brands should first design their goals, then turn listening posts on. Defining what you want to do with your experience program before you begin it is much more effective (and a lot less messy) than the inverse.

So, what business challenges do you want your experience program to help solve for? Are you looking to boost customer retention, or lower the cost to serve? Maybe you want to cross-sell or upsell to your existing customer base. Whatever your goal, lay it out at the beginning of your program process and describe it in terms of specific numbers. Goals like “retain more customers” are too vague; design your initiative with percentages and financial goals, and ascertaining how successful it’s been will largely take care of itself.

Step #2: Listen

Another big component of designing your program is deciding which audiences to listen to. This is a more targeted approach than attempting to intercept feedback from all sides and can garner you intel pertinent to your specific goals. Once you’ve completed the legwork of deciding who you want to listen to, that’s when you should turn your listening posts on and start gathering feedback. All told, being selective about who you listen to will make realizing program goals easier.

Step #3: Understand

After you’ve gathered a sufficient amount of feedback, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and delve into what your customers, non-customers, or other audience groups are saying. There are several ways to go about this process—utilizing an experience improvement platform that can analyze sentiments and thus commonalities within your feedback is one of the most effective. Finding the common threads within your feedback will make you aware of what customers (or other groups) are saying, what they like, and most importantly, what needs fixing.

Step #4: Transform

Transforming your business means applying what you’ve learned from gathered feedback. It means identifying processes and potential problem areas, then working with the relevant stakeholders to come up with solutions. Brands should always desilo their experience data as a matter of course, but working directly with relevant departments is crucial to actually seeing change occur where it needs to. This is not an easy process by any means, but this collaboration is the best way to guarantee that meaningful transformation occurs.

Step #5: Realize

After this, the final step of our framework, realize, can take place as experience teams and practitioners see changes take place and goals hopefully get reached. What more is there to the process, though?

Click here to read my full POV on the subject, where I explain how brands like yours can best realize their experience goals and make a difference for themselves, their customers, and their employees.

Take Action on Customer Feedback in 4 Simple Steps

Over the last decade or so, countless companies have fired up their own experience initiatives. These companies set out to create happier customers and employees, as well as a stronger bottom line—all through the power of experience programs! However, even after a brand’s CX practitioner(s) has gained program sponsorship, launched listening posts, and gathered data, it’s not uncommon for them to hit a wall when it comes to taking action on customer feedback

Gathering metrics is all well and good, but executing an action plan is what makes the difference between measuring and transforming your experience. Today’s conversation covers how to take action on your experience program feedback in four steps.

Four Steps to Taking Action on Customer Feedback

  1. Define Your Plan’s Stages
  2. Identify Collaborators
  3. Define Actions
  4. Create a Timeline

Step #1: Define Your Plan’s Stages

Every CX practitioner knows that taking action isn’t as simple as A-to-B. That’s why it’s important to hammer out the concrete steps you need to take toward experience improvement and brand transformation. It’s important to first consider where you are and remind yourself of the program’s end goal. Then, collaborate closely with your team to figure out which actions you need to take. This process empowers your team to prioritize what to execute on first.

Step #2: Identify Collaborators

Once your team has mapped out action plan stages, it’s time to decide who else in the organization may be needed. This isn’t necessarily the same as returning to the execs or other stakeholders and sponsors—you may need to reach out to other teams who own processes that impact the experience, such as IT or user experience. Including individuals before you take action will make the transformation process smoother.

Step #3: Define Actions

You’ve drawn a line from feedback to improvement and have the collaborators you need at the table. Now it’s time to work together to define specific actions. This step is why it’s so important to reach out to collaborators whose teams or departments you see improvement opportunities for. You’re going to need their help to figure out the best way to solve a problem in their respective parts of the organization. You can share your experience data, they can share their perspectives, and meaningful action will soon follow.

Step #4: Create a Timeline

A timeline helps ensure that the actions become reality. It’s also a great way to hold your team accountable as they begin putting those actions into motion. Creating a timeline helps ground program expectations in reality and gives your team a firm timestamp at which to start monitoring implemented changes. Indeed, all of this makes creating a timeline perhaps the most important part of an action plan.

Following these four steps will allow your organization to leverage what you’ve learned from your experience program. You can put those learnings to great effect creating a more emotional experience for customers, greater meaning for your employees’ work, and, consequently, a more robust market position for your organization.

Click here to read my full article on the importance of taking action to transform your business. I take a deeper dive into this vital process and provide additional tooltips on how to revolutionize your brand through the power of Experience Improvement (XI).

Tons of CX Data? Here’s How to Make Sense of It

If there’s anything organizations aren’t hurting for these days, it’s CX data. Brands may have been avidly searching for it once upon a time, but nowadays, they face the opposite dilemma: having more data than they might know what to do with. This is particularly true for experience program data—a few listening posts here and there can quickly inundate even larger organizations with a ton of customer intel.

Today, I’m going to talk you through how to make sense of your data. Using the tips below will help you isolate signals, cut through all the white noise, and ultimately leave your organization more CX savvy.

All Data, No Decisions

Having a lot of data is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it is more challenging for brands to make data-driven business decisions when they’re not sure where to start. Should companies dive directly into customer feedback? What about employee surveys and financial metrics? The sheer amount of disparate data sources at play within most companies can make gleaning actionable intelligence feel overwhelming (if not flat-out impossible).

The first step toward overcoming this challenge is to take all of your data and pour it into one place. This includes customer feedback, employee intel, financial data, operational data, and other sources. Why? Because siloing data makes understanding your customers and their experiences much more difficult because it obscures the context needed to fully understand both of these business problems. Putting all your data together will help your company not only contextualize what is broken, but also illuminate the path toward solving those challenges.

Finding The “Why”

Desiloing data gives companies the chance to holistically understand their customers’ perceptions and experiences. This is important not just for making data-driven decisions, but also understanding the root of broken or underwhelming experiences. When brands connect experience data with financial and operational information, it becomes much easier to see where things might be going wrong and how badly.

Once brands gain this holistic view, it’s time to dive deeper with key driver analysis. This doesn’t mean sit back and watch your NPS—it means rolling up your sleeves and getting into exploratory analysis and customer profiling. These processes allow companies to learn exactly why their customers behave the way they do. Even more, they identify what experience strengths and weaknesses drive that behavior.

Don’t forget to ask your employees for their experience feedback as well! A lot of brands mistakenly overlook this step because the employee and customer experiences drive one another. There’s no better way to make an employee feel valued than to ask for their feedback. Moreover, it encourages employees to feel involved in and take ownership of customer experience.

The Next Step

Brands can make sense of their experience data by desiloing it, analyzing it within the context of additional data, and hearing employees’ side of the story. These are the first steps toward becoming a more data-driven (and customer-centric) organization, an endeavor that can make any company a leader in its vertical.

Click here to read my full article on the importance of understanding customers to transform your brand. I take a deeper dive and provide additional tips on how to revolutionize your brand through the power of Experience Improvement (XI).

3 Ways an Improvement Success Framework Can Supercharge Your Experience Program

These days, it’s not uncommon for brands to take the term “listening program” to mean a series of listening posts set up across multiple channels.

Yes, those posts are an important part of listening, but experience programs can be so much more (and do so much more for your business). They can go far beyond listening in across channels and reacting to customer comments only as they come in.

Listening for, reacting to, and measuring customer sentiment in this manner is what’s commonly known as experience management. And honestly, it rarely moves the needle for brands or creates a better experience for customers. Experience improvement (XI), by contrast, allows companies to achieve both of those goals by connecting to customers in a very human way. Essentially, it pays for brands to have an experience improvement success framework.

Today, we’re going to touch on three ways a success framework can add unbridled power to any improvement effort:

  1. Proving ROI
  2. Listening Purposefully
  3. Owning The Moments That Matter

Key #1: Proving ROI

ROI has been a notoriously fickle element of experience programs for years—but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the difficulty of proving ROI stems less from experience programs being a financially elusive unicorn than many companies not tying their program to a quantifiable objective.

This is why it is crucial that brands establish hard, specific goals for their experience program. An objective like “be more customer-centric” isn’t going to cut it, especially when it comes to proving ROI. Rather, experience practitioners and stakeholders need to work together to hash out program objectives that can be tied to financial goals.

Whether it’s acquiring X amount of new customers or lowering cost to serve by Y percent, creating goals like these and gearing your program toward them will make establishing ROI much, much easier.

Key #2: Listening Purposefully

ROI isn’t the only area a success framework can help companies stencil in. This setup can also help brands better identify who to listen to and why.

Conventional wisdom holds that companies should listen for feedback from anyone, but that isn’t necessarily true. Callous as it may sound to some, the truth is that some audiences are just more worth listening to than others. A success framework can help companies identify which audiences they need to listen to to achieve program goals.

This approach is also handy for cutting through the mountains and mountains of data that experience programs inevitably rake in. They also help programs get to the heart of providing a great experience, which leads us to our final topic:

Key #3: Owning The Moments That Matter

The moments that matter are the instances in which the needs of customers, employees, and businesses all connect. They’re the moments in which a customer journey transcends a transaction and becomes a profound emotional connection. Owning the moments that matter is vital to creating connections and inspiring transformational success across your business.

This final key is a culmination of establishing financial goals, listening purposefully, and taking action—ultimately creating meaning for customers. That capacity to create meaning is what sets the best brands apart from the competition and carries them to the top of their verticals. And it all starts with building an experience improvement success framework.

Click here to learn more about how to create a success framework and why doing so at the very start of your experience improvement journey will guarantee success for you, your customers, and your employees.

The Case for Moving Your Experience Program Beyond Metrics

For a lot of companies, the phrase “experience programs” brings careful management and lots of metrics to mind. Both of those things are important components of any experience effort, but they can’t bring about meaningful change and improvement. Experience programs can revolve around so much more than scoreboard-watching and reacting to challenges only as they arise—we’re going to go over how much more these programs can be and why brands should adjust their ambitions accordingly.

Movement Over Metrics

Conventional wisdom holds that if an experience program is returning great measurements, that must mean it’s really working for a brand. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Metrics are effective for highlighting a brand’s high points and weak spots, but that’s about it. A true experience program’s job doesn’t end with better metrics—that’s actually where the work begins.

Companies can create a fundamentally better experience for their customers (and thus a stronger bottom line for themselves) by taking action on their program’s findings. This means sharing intelligence throughout an organization rather than leaving it siloed, as well as encouraging all stakeholders to own their part of the process. In short, taking action is what makes the difference between being really good at watching scores roll in and actually fixing problems that might be muddying up the customer journey.

Narratives Over Numbers

The phrase “program findings” from the preceding paragraph can also mean more than just numbers. It can also denote customer stories, employee reports, and other, more abstract forms of feedback. Many experience programs pick this information up as a matter of course, but it can be difficult to take action on that intel without a concrete action plan.

One reason why many companies encounter this difficulty is because their programs don’t acknowledge a simple truth: some customer segments are worth more to listen to than others. It doesn’t make much sense to try to listen to every segment for feedback on a loyalty program that only long-term customers use or know about. This is why it’s important for brands to consider which audiences they want to gather feedback from before even turning any listening posts on.

Once brands have matched the audiences they want to listen to to the goals they want to achieve, that’s when they can turn their ears on and start gathering that feedback. Companies that take this approach will find feedback significantly more relevant (and helpful) than intelligence gathered through a more catchall approach. They can then perform a key driver analysis on those customers and put their feedback against a backdrop of operational and financial data for further context, which goes a long way toward the goal of all of this: meaningful improvement.

Experience Improvement Over Experience Management

Experience improvement is not a goal that can be reached just by reading metrics. It demands more than turning listening posts on and hoping that a good piece of customer intel comes down the wire. Rather, experience improvement demands action. Much like water molecules, the forces that drive customer expectations, acquisition, churn, and other factors are in constant motion, and thus demand constant action to stay on top of it all.

Desiloing intelligence, motivating stakeholders, and expanding program awareness to customer stories instead of just higher scores and stats is what makes the difference between an industry-leading experience and everyone else’s. These actions create better experiences for customers, compel employees to become more invested in providing those experiences, and creates a marketplace-changing impact for the brand.

Click here to learn more about how to take your program from simple metric-watching to meaningful improvement for all.

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