"Experience Investigators" crane logo
Eager to get started? Call us at 312-676-1315.

Embracing 5 Hard Truths of Customer Experience to Improve Your CX Strategy

When we hear from CX change agents about what it takes to run a successful customer experience program, they usually mention at least one of these three challenges:

  • It’s unclear how they should measure success, making it harder to quantify their results and make the case for more resources
  • Data collection can be time-consuming and tricky, which takes time from other activities that may have a stronger impact
  • Leaders feel they lack the influence to align their organization, so customers receive disjointed and inconsistent experiences

The good news? These challenges can be overcome.

Finding the solution, however, will require you to embrace a few of what I call the hard truths of working in customer experience.

Lessons for Improving Your Customer Experience Strategy

I’ve seen organizations adopt a few common mindsets that inadvertently hold them back, as well as CX pros who overlook key resources that can help them get ahead.

By facing these realities head on you can more quickly implement the best customer experience strategy for your organization.

1. “Prioritizing” The Customer Isn’t Enough

“We prioritize the customer in everything we do!” I hear this a lot. And the IDEA of this is great. The execution and reality, however? Not so much.

  • When I ask about a budget for customer experience efforts, they say they don’t have one.
  • When I ask about closing the loop on customer feedback, they say they haven’t quite figured that out yet.
  • When I ask about real accountability over making improvements in the customer’s journey, they say they ask those leaders and teams nicely and hope for the best.

The most brutal and unfortunate hard truth is that most organizations do not have a real strategy when it comes to customer experience efforts. They have ideas and wishes. They have metrics that don’t have real meaning. And they think one day of training will save them from themselves.

Organizations set themselves up for failure—despite their best intentions—if they do not clearly explain what a successful customer experience looks like.

Define your Customer Experience Mission to lay the groundwork for delivering a consistent customer experience, and create a CX Strategy Success Statement to empower every employee to champion that mission.

2. Surveys Are Just One Feedback Method

Customer surveys and feedback channels help us gauge how we’re doing overall, and they often point to new areas in the customer journey we can improve. However, survey responses reflect what just a small group of customers think and feel. And a lot of customer share feedback only if they feel strongly about something.

CX teams can run into challenges if their organizations place too much value on survey responses. In some cases, they build their entire strategy around surveys: Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) become the No. 1 customer experience metric, survey response rates directly affect employee bonuses, and customer feedback dictates day-to-day work.

This culture may even encourage employees to pressure customers to give them positive feedback and survey responses, diluting authentic customer feedback — which is what you actually want to be making decisions based on.

So, what should customer experience teams do instead?

  • Reset your survey culture. Review your customer survey strategy and see if you’re pressuring reps to amass positive scores or a high volume of responses. You may need to remind your team that more responses do not always mean better insights. Feedback should drive change via coaching, process reviews, or cross-functional collaboration. Don’t make it all about punishment.
  • Revisit your customer journeys. Looking at your customer journey maps, where are the most valuable moments to ask for feedback? How can you do so in a natural way that will not skew their response? Find new ways to collect customer feedback without disrupting the experience, and consider experimenting with new channels to solicit more impactful responses.
  • Refine your listening strategy. Your customers actively give clues about how to improve their experience. You just need to be listening in the right ways! Augment your feedback strategy by listening for untold customer feedback to extract insights from the conversations they’re already having with their communities or your team.

3. Metrics Need Context

Customer experience teams can access more data than we know what to do with. It’s easy for CX leaders to enter an endless cycle of measurement and reporting, focusing on numbers and hitting the defined goals… but numbers mean little without the right background.

Voice of the Customer dashboards or other CX reports may become vanity metrics when CX leaders forget to position their data around these questions:

  • What do these metrics mean in the context of the customer’s lived experience?
  • Why is it beneficial to achieve a higher Net Promoter Score or Customer Satisfaction Score? (What are the consequences when these drop?)
  • How does your data tell a bigger story about the value of customer experience?
  • What action will you take based on your data?

Before data analysis takes over your role, re-align on the purpose of your reporting. What metrics matter, how do they support the overarching business goals, and what do these metrics mean for business leaders across your organization?

4. A Great Customer Experience Requires a Great Employee Experience

CX teams can work tirelessly to enable customer-facing employees with the messaging and resources they need to deliver a great customer experience. But if employees are overwhelmed or burnt out, it’s impossible for them to show up fully for customers.

Unlocking the full potential of your customer experience efforts will require you to partner closely with human resources and learning and development teams to embed CX with the employee experience.

This process may involve educating organizational leaders about how the employee experience and customer experience are linked and why employees should be empowered to shape their experience. You will also blend your CX Mission and messaging into the entire employee journey, starting with the candidate experience, so employees are aligned from day one.

5. Lifelong Learning is A Must

Our colleagues may not understand what we do, the hurdles we face, and the help we need.

I’m sure you have plenty else on your to-do’s, but ensure that connecting to the greater customer experience community is a priority so you can build a network of peers. This network is essential for having a group to bounce ideas off of, celebrate your wins with, and help you see things differently.

If you need help building your professional network and finding your CX support group, there are a few places you can explore:

  • Sign up for CXI Ground School™ . We offer support, ongoing learning, and community through CXI Flight School™. The first three months of your experience – CXI Ground School™ – guide you through the step-by-step process of creating the foundation for your CX program: building your CX Mission Statement, CX Strategy Success Statement, and CX Charter. 
  • Join a professional association. CX groups like CXPA and Women in CX can connect you with industry peers. Or look into broader organizations for your specific industry. Many associations host regular meet-ups and exclusive events that are perfect for networking.
  • Attend industry events. Keep an eye out for virtual and in-person events you may want to attend. Events are a great opportunity to network with other attendees and learn from thought leaders in your space. If you attend an in-person event, challenge yourself to sit by someone new in each session, and attend at least one official networking event. (Need a place to start? Follow me on LinkedIn or sign up for our Weekly Win to never miss one of our LinkedIn Live sessions!)
  • Find a digital group. Social media channels and messaging platforms like Slack and Discord offer so many different groups and communities for business professionals and CX leaders. Join a few groups online (I’d recommend CX Accelerator ) and schedule 30 minutes each week to check in on the conversations, lend your insights, and ask for help when you need it — you never know who might respond.

A Customer Experience Strategy Channels Your Efforts

A hard truth is that EVERYTHING can feel like a priority in customer experience. It’s up to us, as leaders, to prioritize the right efforts for the best results.

We’ve helped hundreds of teams reinvent their customer experiences for the past 20 years. If you’re feeling stuck deciding where you should focus your program, we’re here to help. Reach out to us here so we can start a conversation.

About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

Get Jeannie’s insights in your inbox each week by subscribing to The Weekly Win and follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

Insights in Your Inbox

Subscribe to The Weekly Win and join thousands in our community receiving insider perspective from our Founder and Chief Experience Investigator, Jeannie Walters, CCXP.