May the Force be with you!

What is the most powerful force sweeping organizations today?
Consumer Engagement.

Call it a CX platform or CEM for convenience sake, that is what enables customer engagement. What that really is, is a continuous loop of consumer co-created business improvements led by active listening across channels. The Steve Jobs approach to creating a change is not for everyone. Envisioning consumer desire and then creating products and services that revolutionise the world is far from a once in a lifetime occurrence.  Thankfully for the rest of us, we have technology in the form of CEM to our aid.

What does a CEM bring to the table?

For a platform that listens to and measures insights from consumer and other stakeholders in real-time, it can powerfully organise this information for action and analytics. This is the true revolution that CRM promised to deliver but never could & CEM bridges these gaps in the CRM.

While every CEO talks about customer experience as their key priority, it’s more of a directional statement seldom backed by real initiatives. Don’t get me wrong – running a business is complex and there will always be competing priorities for your time and resources.

“Of all the tools available for improving your quarterly results, a CX improvement program might seem to be more complex and challenging. It is the organisation structures and silos, that make ROI calculation more elusive.”

While this is not true, I can well understand and empathise the predicament.  Our objective with clients has always been to unshackle these chains and showcase why CX needs to be a burning platform. The good news is that a CEM solution is probably the least expensive, and drives the highest ROI amongst a plethora of unyielding business growth tools available in the market.

I find the smell of customer focus (where it exists) in boardrooms inspiring. The challenge today is to channelize this energy. I often know in my client meetings if there is a powerful CX program brewing.

Mathematically speaking, there is one essential condition and 3 critical dependencies for a successful CX program, and no, investments are not one of them:

CEO Ownership is the single most important condition for launching a powerful CEM program.

If you don’t have this, don’t bother. Due to functional silos, no one owns the customer – across the journey, across the touchpoints. And customer experience typically falls through these crevices of organisational silos.  Small feedback programs are delusional and are actually counter-productive.

Any feedback is good – and in that sense, unstructured feedback would be good to have – but they also form silos. Your multitude of isolated quantitative surveys or market research programs has caused more damage than good to organisations. The very nature of a CEM platform is being cross-functional. You need focus and attention to cut the clutter of these silos. It is rarely about budgets – it is about the continuous improvement journey that draws multiple resources to multiple functions.

I would call out 3 critical dependencies that enable great CX implementations:
  • An agile organisation willing to put heads together across silos,
  • Engaged employees who are willing to go beyond their call of duty to create customer delight,
  • And a data culture to be able to drive a metrics-driven approach capturing both operational and behavioural data

If either one or two of these three are missing, they can surely be built over a period of time. In fact, a CEM platform is a catalyst for creating this perfect storm for action. This needs to be accounted for
(a) in the business case you are building for the program, and
(b) in the eventual solution design that you launch

For more insights and strategies on designing your road to CX excellence, access the webinar ‘Building The Business Case For CX’ here.

Ramesh Natarajan is an entrepreneur and executive with 25 years of experience globally in customer management, general management, sales & marketing and research across industries. Being an alumnus of IIT-Bombay, he started his journey as a sales engineer and since then has grown to become the VP & Area Head of South Asia for DHL Express. Post which he started his own ventures and has spear-headed LitmusWorld in becoming the most trusted brand in India for Customer Experience Management.