Customer Experience Planning: Ask These Reflection Questions

by Jeannie Walters

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Within the natural cycles of any business, there are times that offer a chance to review, reflect and recharge.

Some of the most common moments include:

  • The end of the calendar year
  • The end of your fiscal year
  • As you wrap one quarter and prepare for the next
  • Before budgeting season
  • Any time changes demand you assess and adjust your goals, strategy, and tactics

In these moments, we typically ask questions like:

  • What goals did we meet?
  • What goals did we miss?
  • What are our goals for next year?

I know plenty of people who go through these exercises from a personal and professional standpoint. It’s a worthwhile pursuit to reset those goals that weren’t achieved and feel good about all that was accomplished.

This year, though, it feels a bit different. Many goals that seemed perfectly reasonable in December of 2019 seemed downright hilarious in December of 2020.

Comedian Robyn Schall discovered her 2020 goals and created a viral video of why they were now hilarious. “Make more money! I’ve been unemployed since March!” she laughed and cried.

It’s funny. It’s a little hard to watch. And for many of us it’s extremely relatable.

It’s not just our personal goals which changed so drastically in the year 2020. The same could be said about overall company goals, leadership goals and yes, customer experience goals, too.

Regardless of the ups and downs and unique challenges of 2020, a year-end review is a good exercise for customer experience leaders. Even if it’s difficult. Especially if it’s difficult.

It’s time to take a deep breath and consider what DID happen this year. Then it’s time to learn from that, plan ahead, and feel prepared to take on next year in a big way.

Whether it’s the end of the year or any other time that’s right, these are five of the questions I ask the clients I consult with when it’s time to reflect. I hope they help your organization too.

Five CX Questions to Help You Reflect:

 

1. What was the top priority for our customer experience goals? Did we meet it? Why or why not?

This is technically three questions, I know… but it’s common to not make it beyond the first.

Often leaders will get stumped when asked about their customer experience goals because those goals either never really existed in the first place or were vague or not well-defined.

If that’s the case in your organization, let it serve as an important wake-up call.

Related: Use SMIRC Goals to Define Customer Experience Outcomes

Beyond identifying your CX goals, it’s important to be able to weigh the importance of each as well. And if your goals weren’t truly prioritized, then it’s impossible to say what the top priority was.

If you did have clear, prioritized customer experience goals, then the two follow-up questions offer a chance to review what happened to meet those goals…or not.

Take some time to really consider what challenges, obstacles, or barriers prevented achieving those goals. Look at what was most successful and consider if you need more or less of any resources, people, or tools.

 

2. What was the best thing we heard from customers?

It’s easy to dwell on the negative. Many customer experience conversations and actions are focused on fixing problems, responding to frustrated customers, alerting leaders of broken processes, or just hearing a lot of complaints!

You delivered for your customers this year. That’s the only way any business survives at all.

  • So what was great?
  • What did customers love?
  • What did they tell you that surprised you about how delighted they were?

Did you hear about a specific employee, process or part of the journey more than others? That can shine a light on a specific part of the experience to scale to other parts of the journey.

Look for the words and emotions expressed from customers.

And don’t forget to celebrate! Feel good about creating those emotional wins for customers. This year especially, it’s important to reflect on what worked WELL.

  • Find those superstar employees and share the nice words from customers.
  • Praise those leaders who created processes that delivered improved experiences.
  • And share how your organization showed up for customers in the best possible ways.

Everyone in the organization played a role to create those experiences, so spread that praise as far as possible!

 

3. What was the best business outcome we achieved due to our work in customer experience?

Customer experience work is not just about making customers happy. CX has to be related to business outcomes.

  • Did a higher Net Promoter Score (NPS) lead to an increase in retention?
  • Did a digital experience lead to delivering to more customers than last year at this time?
  • Did better customer onboarding materials lead to reduced call center costs?

When you can connect the dots to understand what CX efforts drive business results, you can work deliberately towards driving even better results, and do so with the buy-in of leaders who recognize the effect CX is having on their goals as well. 

If you can’t connect your CX work to business results, it’s time to consider why not, too.

  • Is there information you don’t have access to that would make this easier?
  • Are there leaders who aren’t engaged with the work around improving the customer experience who should be?

Now’s the time to evaluate how to tie your business results back to your CX plans.

Related: Tie CX Goals to Larger Company & Leadership Goals with a CX Success Statement

 

4. What was the worst thing we heard from customers? How did we earn this criticism? Did we do anything to change this?

Time for the hard truths.

  • How did we disappoint customers this year?
  • What was the worst they had to say about their experiences?
  • And perhaps even more importantly, did we do anything about this?

Complaints from customers are a warning flag. Are you paying attention to the warning or just deciding to move on without considering what’s really happening?

What about the customers who made these complaints?

  • If changes were made, were the customers thanked for their part in that?
  • How did you close the loop with customers who had issues?
  • When it comes to the worst complaints from customers, do other leaders understand how these issues impact customer loyalty, ratings or future purchases?

It’s a good time to share these hard truths with the rest of the organization.

 

5. Did we improve or change the customer’s journey for the better? If so, what made that happen? If not, why not?

Finally, it’s time to ask what your organization did to make the customer experience better now than in the past.

  • How did we deliver improvements?
  • What did we have to do internally to make that happen?
  • How are our teams supporting one another’s efforts?

Now is a good chance to reflect on how you decided what to improve, too. If it was based on ongoing customer feedback, did customers have a say in what improvements were made? If not, how can they be included in the future?

Customer experience is a team sport. Cross-functional leadership and support is needed to make these improvements. Now is a good chance to thank those leaders and teams who put in the efforts to make the changes that really mattered to customers.

Your customer’s experience is never “finished.” Learning how to adapt and improve their journey means creating faster, more nimble and more meaningful ways to create real change on behalf of your customers.

 

Reviewing the Five CX Questions to Help You Reflect:

  1. What was the top priority for our customer experience goals? Did we meet it? Why or why not?
  2. What was the best thing we heard from customers?
  3. What was the best business outcome we achieved due to our work in customer experience?
  4. What was the worst thing we heard from customers? How did we earn this criticism? Did we do anything to change this?
  5. Did we improve or change the customer’s journey for the better? If so, what made that happen? If not, why not?

Reflecting on our progress this way can illuminate where we might need more effort in the future.

And speaking of the future, next week we’ll be releasing a new downloadable workbook you can use with your team that dives into these questions plus five additional questions that can help you plan for the future.

Sign up to be notified when we release this workbook plus get immediate access to our growing library of workbooks, templates, checklists and more at YearofCX.com.

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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