Customer experience improvement starts with honest evaluation. Goals for any organization naturally don’t align perfectly with the goals of their customers. There is a natural conflict of interest. The company wants profits. The customer doesn’t want to pay too much. Check that out. Conflict of interest!
That’s why it’s so important to approach customer experience improvement through reviewing your actual organization with a bias toward your customers. But how? After all, humans have biases. We have biases based on how we were raised, where we live, what we believe and why we believe it! Reviewing the experience your customers or employees have is a direct reflection of you as a leader.
That’s what makes it so difficult to hear sometimes.
Here are common internal organizational or leadership biases that result in biased results:
1. The “I Thought Of That So It’ll Work Eventually” Bias
Championing an initiative is daunting. After pushing down barriers and holding pep rallies to get teams aligned, it’s difficult to watch the end result not work. A recent example was a company who pushed to implement Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a way to track customer loyalty. After implementing, they ran some tests with data and found Customer Satisfaction scores were actually a better indicator for repeat purchases. This goes against much conventional wisdom and was surprising, but factual. They didn’t abandon NPS, but they were able to make better business decisions because they were being honest.
2. The “But This Is Prettier” Bias
I’m a sucker for a great infographic. I love a good-looking web site. But in this age of visual trumps written content, let’s not forget that the point of content is to drive action. And if the visuals aren’t meeting the needs of customers or employees, then they’re not working. Customers are not afraid to label product packaging as “beautiful but wasteful.” Inside an organization, nothing is more frustrating than spending loads of time on gathering information which is then turned into a gorgeous but flimsy communication piece. (I hate to admit this – but it happens over and over with customer journey maps. Many are fun to look at but don’t serve a purpose.) Customer experience improvement requires great data. Don’t turn it into something that is nice to look at but meaningless.
3. The “I Hate That Competitor” Bias
Oh those competitors can get under our skin, can’t they? Especially when they innovate faster, offer the same product for a lower price or do things we wouldn’t. But it REALLY gets us when our customers defect to them. It’s especially tough if leadership is caring and the people are hard-working, and yet a soulless company take a share of their market. But it happens. Here’s why – if you’re not looking at what the marketplace is delivering and what’s working OUTSIDE your organization, you don’t really know what you don’t know. This happens with hiring, too. If it feels like a competitor is poaching your talent, it’s time to take a hard look at why the grass looks green enough to jump the fence.
4. The “Remember the Glory Days” Bias
It’s difficult to shake the past. If your organization’s leadership is still living in the days of “We were the first” or “Customers don’t want to <shop online>/<bank via mobile>/<read on tablets>” then it’s time to shake things up. So many great companies have gotten themselves stuck in the past, simply because it worked for a long time…until it didn’t. Don’t assume what works at this moment will work ten minutes from now with your customer experience. Improvement means looking ahead – always.
5. The “I Can’t See Past My Passion” Bias
My favorite types of companies to work with are the ones in growth stages. They remind me of that adorable stage puppies go through where their paws are too big for their bodies. They romp around and try to figure out how to get around while growing too fast on the outside. But it’s also the most dangerous time for the entrepreneurs who started a company. Passion is what the company was based upon, and it can be blinding. Don’t ever lose that passion, but make sure it’s directed at serving your customers and employees, not your ego.
The best way to overcome biases is to do two things: stick to the facts and get a truly outside perspective. Sticking to the facts means just that – don’t talk yourself into reviving a passion project. If it’s not working, stick to the facts. Move on. Getting an outside perspective can actually be more difficult. Your spouse who reviews the web site is a good sounding board, but he’s biased by believing in you. Your agency can certainly provide insights into what’s not working in your marketing, but they’re looking to sell you another contract. There’s that conflict of interest again.
The best outside perspectives are truly outside. Those comments that customers share with your front-line staff can be gold, but feedback needs a pathway to make a difference. Watching customer behavior is another outside-in view. And, then, of course, there’s hiring a firm that specializes in customer experience evaluation. (Just sayin.)
Biases are all around. Don’t let yours get in the way of progress.
Photo credit: in da mood via Creative Commons license