Level 3 Communications

Christine Viera

Customer Experience and Apple Pie

For too long, we’ve been bombarded with preachy customer experience (CX) articles telling us to “focus on the customer.” Another favorite is: “Pay attention to their emotions and listen.”

Having started in the CRM industry many moons ago, I couldn’t agree more. And I’d like to think I’ve always had that mindset. But here’s the thing: when is it time to stop preaching and start doing?  

If you keep evangelizing motherhood and apple pie, don’t be surprised when nothing changes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom (hi mom!) and really like apple pie. But if nothing actually changes, well, the whole exercise is pointless.

So, what to do?

Tell Us Something We Don’t Know

The first thing to recognize is employees are the bridge between customers and complexity. B2B employees face an especially hard challenge. They serve demanding customers and address difficult problems by deftly navigating business processes, communities of experts and federated technologies.

If your people are like ours, they’re smart, well-intentioned and committed to delivering a great experience. We try our best to do just that every day. But it can be a challenge, especially when their best efforts don’t add up. Then they see yet another “focus on the customer”-type article about customer experience, and it all gets pretty discouraging.

Trust me, your customer-facing employees and their leaders know when there are issues with customer experience: They live the highs and the lows with your customers. That’s why your net promoter score (NPS) and customer-satisfaction results aren’t news to them. They just confirm what they already know.

CX efforts have to do more than just point out obvious problems.

From Fluff to Facts: Customer Experience Needs to Get Real

You can’t simply survey your customers once a year, get your NPS score and say, “Great. Now, let’s see how we look in a year.” Listening is a verb. If you don’t use those results to make improvements, you can’t take customer experience to the next level.

How do you get to the next level? You’ve got to help great teams score in unison

This starts with a vision. For us, customer experience means we’re easy to do business with. Our employees are how we deliver on that promise. That’s why our CX vision is: “Together, we provide an experience that helps our customers thrive.”

Customer experience becomes transformative when it moves from a vision into pragmatic action. Start by defining what “good” looks like. What do customers expect and want?

Once you know that, you can map outside-in customer experience metrics to the inside-out metrics and objectives that govern your employees’ day-to-day work. This aligns employee efforts with outcomes that satisfy demanding customers. It also lets leaders focus on removing the big rocks from our employees’ paths.

It’s About People

Customer experience is about people. You can’t forget that. Customer-facing employees are the face of our brand and the ears of our business. Make it easier for workers to execute and serve, and you’re better able to meet customer expectations. Listen to what they tell you they’re seeing and learn as they interact with customers.

So enjoy your apple pie, and don’t forget to call Mom. But when it comes to customer experience, roll up your sleeves, get your organization to the table and get everyone working together to move customer experience from vision to reality.