The aim of every CX programme, of course, is to add value over the long term – not just following the excitement of a launch or major overhaul. It should enable organisations to gather feedback from stakeholders, to analyse and draw insights about how products and services are judged, and then enable the CX team to plan and execute actions that will improve what’s on offer and enhance the perception that internal and external stakeholders have of the organisation overall.
Building a sustainable CX programme that will continue to support customers, employees and partners regardless of shifting business priorities or external pressures calls for a huge commitment to check what is working and what is not and being ready to do things differently. Getting stuck doing the same thing, year after year won’t help key staff stay engaged.
This invariably demands regular and ongoing conversations about the changes required to make sure that existing and new employees have the information at their fingertips to do their jobs, to make improvements, update processes and use their initiative.
We have to be respectful of decisions that have been made in the past about strategy, methodology and the consequences of actions or inactions – but we should not be bound by them. If there are new opportunities for revenue growth, new compliance issues that need to be addressed or a clear indication that complaints are spiralling, it’s time to review, refocus and refresh.
Identifying the need for change is obviously the starting point. This could be, for example, that the technology supporting Voice of the Customer programme is not delivering the integrations, functionality or return on investment that was initially expected or needed now. Or it might be that you’re just not asking quite the right questions anymore.
Whatever the issue may be, the key to making any change to the VoC programme is ensuring that executive sponsors, the senior management team as well as employees and partners join you on the journey.
For Computacenter, this involved the creation of a Group Steering Board, involving the Group Services Director and Director of Innovation and with representation from employees from its 21 business areas. This provided employees from across the group with a voice, to encourage collaboration and engagement in the process, and adoption of the change that the CX team ultimately recommended.
Developing new CX standards and best practices, based on the knowledge and broader experience of the Group Steering Board, meant that the VoC programme was not only aligned to meet the organisation’s business priorities but ensured that future capabilities were included as part of the solution.
In my experience, it’s worth considering extending an invite to technology vendors and CX practitioners from non-competitive organisations to occasionally attend Steering Boards to add another dimension to discussions. This may not be for everyone and I’m not suggesting external experts should deep dive into the minutiae of every decision. But inviting trusted advisors to share their experiences and lessons learned may provide a useful perspective that could help to clarify, fine tune and aid decision making.
At the same time, making a concerted effort to reach out to employees that are not involved in the Steering Board will also pay dividends. We all know that involving employees in change programmes can make a big difference to how effectively new customer-centric processes are adopted and how well programmes are able to evolve over time.
So what I’m suggesting is stepping out to connect with the frontline, not waiting for the frontline to approach you. It’s all very well having an ‘open door’ policy but now is the time to proactively reach out to user groups and individuals that may have been reticent to offer their thoughts in the past.
As CX professionals it’s imperative that we are not isolated from anyone that could help us to deliver great customer experiences. Right now, when in person meetings are not on the agenda, technology could be the enabler – and the leveller – we are looking for. With no travel required, and a more flexible, informal approach to meetings, perhaps Zoom (and others) could open the door to greater involvement in change across every organisation, encouraging everyone to speak up.
It’s essential that VoC programmes don’t stand still, and while I’m well aware that it’s easier said than done, we must be brave. We must enhance our facilitation, collaboration and conversation skills and above all, remember it’s good to talk – and better still to listen!