failure

Customer experience is like the pretty woman at the party. The idea of speaking with her sounds amazing, but what’s the best way to approach her?

As a consultant and keynote speaker, I’ve seen first-hand that organizations want to better their customer experience and design a strategy that will support this improvement, which makes me optimistic for the future. However, having good intentions doesn’t always translate to successful deployment of these initiatives.

On a flight home from Philadelphia, earlier this year, my inbox flooded with emails from people in the audience motivated to better their customer experience. This got me thinking:

Why is it that some companies’ customer experience intentions will succeed, while others will fail?”

I believe there are three key reasons why customer experience fails at a company.

There Is No Executive Sponsor

A customer experience program that succeeds always has an executive sponsor, a senior-ranking executive that is the champion of the program. She has the authority, budget and motivation to make this program a success and will stop at nothing to have the initiative become an integral part of the company.

Personally, I won’t work with a client on a consulting engagement if it doesn’t have an executive sponsor, because we will face inevitable barriers that can only be overcome by someone with signing authority. When an internal battle for budget and resources ensues during strategic planning meetings, customer experience needs to have a flag bearer that will fight tooth and nail for its attention.

Does your company’s customer experience have an executive sponsor? Tweet at me to let me know.

There Is A Lack Of Education

Part of the motivation behind building Experience Academy, the online customer experience learning platform that my team and I created, was because we felt there was a HUGE gap in where professionals go to obtain education on customer experience. After all, business schools around the world are doing such a poor job at teaching this to aspiring business leaders, and rarely even include it in the curriculum.

If your company needed to improve its approach to digital marketing, there are a plethora of education options which you can pursue to help develop a successful program. You can often rely on this education to give you a step-by-step strategy to follow and provide direction. With customer experience, most companies are still trying to answer the primary questions such as:

  • What is customer experience management?
  • Where do we start?
  • How do we measure success?

Where does your company go to further its customer experience education? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter; I would love to know.

It’s A Rallying Point With No Strategy

If I was to hire anyone to improve an organization’s customer experience, Annette Franz would be on my shortlist. Last year, she wrote a post titled ‘Customer Service or Lip Service?‘ that depicts this point very well. Most companies splash their walls with motivational quotes or create shameless taglines that say, “Providing world-class customer service since 1981.”

For them, say this makes them feel customer-focused, when both you and I know that it’s merely lip service.

During my latest keynote speech, I opened the keynote to a group of 300 CEOs by asking the audience two questions:

  • “Please stand if your company created a marketing plan for 2015.” At this prompt, around two-thirds of the room stood up.
  • “Stay standing if your company also created a customer experience plan for 2015.” Sadly, only one person remained standing.

Note: You can watch the full-length keynote engagement here.

You see, we spend so much time and effort building strategies for things that we are familiar with, such as marketing, and neglect that customer experience needs the same strategic approach to be successful. Imagine if your CMO or Director of Marketing told your CEO that he was going to approach marketing in the same way that most companies currently approach customer experience. Needless to say, he would be fired.

When your company released their quarterly or yearly strategic plan, did it include initiatives that will improve the customer experience? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know with a simple yes or no.

I’ve worked with small companies, and I’ve worked with large companies, ranging in industries from automotive to finance, and hospitality to transportation. The three traits I mentioned are relevant to all industries. To succeed you must have an executive sponsor, the proper education, and a strategic plan.

As the end of Q2 approaches, what is your company doing to ensure that customer experience is given the attention it deserves to succeed?