Going beyond the CX strategy

The most common technique associated with CX is customer journey mapping and persona profiling, but this gives us partial results since it focuses on the outside-in story without revealing the inside-out story, which is responsible to produce the experience.

Therefore, the real key to create a meaningful impact on customer experience is to work on the organizational layers. These backstage activities (below the customer visibility line) are the ones that drive the transformation and form the Operating Model. The primary focus of organizations should be the alignment of the operating model with the CX strategy which will result with increased efficiency and better customer experience.

Touching the organization operating model is not a simple task, as it requires various skills that are different than those used to build personas and customer journeys; they involve internal politics, change management, business process modeling, information systems implementation and local/international regulation, that all need to be taken into consideration.

In this and subsequent articles I propose a way to build a CX driven Operating Model which supports the customer experience strategy and helps the organization to create a meaningful impact on its customers when reaching the execution phase.

The place where experiences happen

An Experience is an outcome of an interaction a customer has with a brand through one of the communication channels (touchpoints). We often consider an experience as something amorphic, that is expressed as a positive, negative or indifferent sentiment or emotion, but an experience is something tangible that can be controlled in most parts of the journey via the communication infrastructure that its customers interact through.

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Whether the organization does something or not an experience will always be generated, which is something important to acknowledge leading us to design an intentional experience approach, that guides the customer through the journey and that provides an omnichannel experience. The better control the organization has on the way the experience is handled over the stages of the journey the better chances are that things will work properly from a customer perspective.

What are the limitations of customer journey maps?

Designing experiences requires using methods and tools that will uncover the brand perception of the customer. Customer journey maps are one of the efficient techniques to empathize with your customer segments and detect issues in the experience throughout the different stages of the journey while interacting with your brand. The story of the journey gives a clear view on the way the customer interacts with the brand, their perception of the experience and the gaps between their expectations and the experience that is actually delivered.

The real challenge comes when the journey outcomes need to be transformed into action, translating the CX initiatives on paper to an actual change in customer experience. Many organizations get stuck at this stage due to issues in prioritization, budget constraints, lack of accountability, internal politics and a stagnant organizational culture.

Organizations face this challenge simply because the language of the customer journey is an outside-in language, which needs to be translated into a roadmap of actions that speaks an internal language. In other words, customer journeys are only one piece of the puzzle that has to be completed by a service design which explains what needs to be done internally.

How to transform your organization with a CX driven Operating Model

Every organization has an operating model which translates the purpose into business value to its customers. Most organizations will invest their energy in turning this machine to be more efficient in order to produce more with less means. While the machine can run smoothly it’s not a guarantee that it produces the right value for customers, it is therefore necessary to inject into the operating model some CX fluid to orient it.

Let’s take a look at the process from a CX perspective to understand how to transform an operating model into a CX driven operating model. The outcomes of the customer journey process are transformed into a list of actions aimed to improve customer experience and personalize the service/product offers. These go through a prioritization exercise, based on a cost/benefits analysis model (which I have discussed in a previous article), highlighting the initiatives that will bring the most value to the organization. Here comes the execution part that needs to take into consideration the implications these initiatives are going to have on the organizational layers that produce the experience like the organizational structure, business processes, information systems, internal policies and more, which will all play a role in the transformation. One of the techniques used to describe the operating model is known as a Service Blueprint, which serves as a bridge between the audit of current operations and the execution part, telling the story of the journey from the organizational perspective (inside-out).

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Incorporating the Voice of the Business in your new model

For the Operating Model to work properly, with strong alignment to the CX strategy, we need to put the focus on 3 important elements of the machine (the 3 voices that form the voice of the business):

1) Fostering engagement among the producers of the experience = the employees. The operating model can be adapted through a set of rules that are forced upon the employees or it can become a natural way of doing business by embracing the customer-centric culture through proper change management. Measured through: VOE (voice of the employee) = employee experience.

2) Implementing a Customer Listening platform structure, composed of all the technologies that help collect, analyze and visualize customer insights. Based on this layer the organization can build a holistic customer 360 view containing demographic, behavioral and transactional data, serving as a source of truth for the different departments and information systems. Measured through: VOC (voice of the customer) = customer satisfaction.

3) Business Process remodeling putting the customer at the heart of the activity by designing processes that start from customer requirements and translate into a flow of actions that serve best the customer. Measured through VOP (voice of the process) = health of the process.

There is more to consider while building the CX driven Operating Model and I will continue to develop the ideas around it in my next articles.

Creating a holistic approach to operate as a CX driven company

Mapping journeys is an important technique that helps detect customer pain points and ideate solutions that will improve customer experience. Transforming this exercise into action requires designing the backstage activities inline with the CX strategy that was defined. This is achieved through techniques like Service Blueprint and other methods that complete the view of the journey combining the inner and outer perspectives.

Some practical tips:

  1. When you move to execution make sure you have, in addition to the current state and future state customer journey maps, a Service Blueprint design that covers all operational aspects required to make an impact on the end customer.
  2. Plan a change management process that will work the customer-centric culture aspects, building a longer-term commitment of employees and managers to integrate customer needs as part of their daily job.
  3. Put in place a Customer Data infrastructure that will allow your organization to listen to customers and act upon their feedback in a systematic manner.

To conclude, I suggest that customer journeys and the operating model are two sides of the same coin and need to be worked on at the same time in order to create impact on customer experience. In customer-driven companies the operating model is a CX driven Operating Model differing not in the means that all organizations put in place to run their business, but in the customer-centric mindset of their employees, the holistic view of customer needs and expectations reflected from the customer 360 view and the business processes that are designed to serve customer requirements.

Eytan Hattem is a passionate Customer Experience professional with a proven track record in large international Customer Engagement projects through his work as a business consultant supporting clients in their digital transformation journey. As a CCXP certified professional, Eytan consults global businesses across multiple sectors to help them understand and transform their customer journeys through best practices and innovative technologies. A true evangelist and thought leader, Eytan speaks, judges and writes regularly within the CX industry media with authority and passion plus mentors fellow CX professionals to spread the power of customer experience!