I was recently asked for suggestions on how to prevent different business units and divisions within a larger organization from becoming complacent when they are performing well based on their customer experience metrics. In other words, their scores, e.g., NPS, are high, so they act like their goal is met. And there's nothing more that needs to be done about the customer experience.
One piece of advice I have is: never rest on your laurels!
Don't ever believe that the experience is "good enough." This is a journey! And there are a lot of reasons that you should keep going and never think that your work is done. If you do rest on our laurels, you will, without a doubt, be overrun by your competitors. Never mind that your customers will no longer want to do business with you. Remember: it's a journey, not a destination.
Here's what happens and why the work is never done:
- Expectations change. What delights customers today may not delight tomorrow. It's important to always keep your pulse on changing customer needs.
- Customers change. Old ones go, new ones come along. New ones may have different problems they are trying to solve or jobs to be done.
- Customer needs, desires, and expectations change. As long as that's happening—and I don't see that every changing—there's no resting on laurels.
- The business changes. New products are launched. Acquisitions are made.
- New competitors enter the marketplace, and industry trends emerge.
- Weak signals become strong signals.
Oh, and one more thing. Not that we're going to blame the survey for your consistently great scores, but how long has it been since you've revisited your surveys?
You'll want to make sure you're capturing feedback about the latest experience (assuming you've improved the experience but haven't updated your surveys), new products and services you've introduced, and emerging customer needs and trends in the industry. Have you looked for emerging trends/pain points/weak signals? That's a great place to start. And those scores, are they for a specific transaction or for the overall relationship? If they’re transactional scores, it’s probably time to look at the big picture and measure how the customer feels about the entire relationship—and not just with that division or business unit but with the entire company. That’s where the rubber meets the road. You are one company/one brand, after all. Also, is your company metrics-focused or experience-focused? If you're doing what it takes to improve the metric, not the experience, you are advocating a different type of behavior than if you're focusing on improving the experience. Your scores will likely change if you focus on the experience, instead. As the department head or business unit head what has he/she done to improve the experience since the last measurement? You may also want to review your personas and who you think your customers are today versus who they were when you started listening to them. As mentioned earlier, customers change. Their needs change. The jobs they are trying to do change.
Take a look at benchmarks.
How are the scores relative to different business units? How do they stack up against competitors? Look at emerging industry trends relative to your scores. You may think your scores are great in a vacuum, but when benchmarked, you may not look so good. This is an important consideration. Bring in non-survey customer and industry data and insights—things that will keep you from resting on your laurels. There may be other industry trends and customer needs that could be disruptors, things you haven't even thought about. Here's a phrase I heard the other day... Don't get Blockbuster'd. Ouch.
"Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” said Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes, speaking to the Motley Fool in 2008. “It’s more Wal-Mart and Apple."
Also, how do your customer retention numbers look? NPS might not be telling the whole story. What do the business metrics tell you? Similarly, another thing to consider is, what does that metric really mean for the business? To what outcome (financial metric) is it linked? If the score is high, but you haven't taken the time to figure out if it's meaningful to the business in a financial way, it's time to do that analysis.
There are a lot of different aspects to consider before any company can even think about becoming complacent about the customer experience. As I said before, it's a journey, not a destination.
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