Customer centricity is currently one of the most used buzz words in the business world, next to digitalization and agile. And rightly so, because far too often customers feel like they're "in the wrong movie". Companies that are not customer-centered observe and study exactly what customer-centered companies do and regularly lapse into cheerful activism. Customer Journey Mapping will solve it. Personas will solve it. Design will solve it. It all seems so exciting and insightful. And it is! But with that in mind you just look at a small part of the whole picture. It's like looking at the mouth of the Mona Lisa to understand how it was painted but not seeing the whole picture. The effect of a company is created by the culture and skills of its employees.
Misconception no. 1: At Customer-Centric Transformation, employees learn to implement the newly designed experiences
The implementation of newly designed journeys and contact points is the change of customer experiences. This is especially important for Moments of Truths (MOT). These must be systematically managed, regularly reviewed, and adjusted. But: this can only be done for a selected number of journeys or contact points. That is perhaps 20% of all contact points.
Customer-centric transformation means enabling the employees of an existing organization to actively create all their contact points (i.e. the remaining 80%) in such a way that a certain habit and strong image is created for the customer. Take the Mona Lisa again. The challenge is that we have not just one painter but dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of painters. They all have to understand what is being painted, what effect is to be achieved, what part they are painting, what technique is used, and what instruments are used. Translated into customer focus, it means having a common vision of the experience, an understanding of what part you have in the string of performance, knowing the tools and methods used, and the ability to use them independently.
The customer-centered transformation causes scaling of the change. The focus is not primarily on the effect on the customer or on changing individual customer experiences. It is much more about the development of the organization as a whole. The effect will follow with a time delay when employees start to create experiences of their own harmony.
Misconception no. 2: Customer-centric transformation can be implemented in a year
Rationally we all know it, and yet the hopes and expectations are quite different. Change is not a sprint. Change is an endurance sport. But: if you train a lot, stick with it consistently, and listen to your body, you will reach your goal faster. This is exactly how it is in Change:
- Those who invest time and effort will reach their goal faster.
- Those who listen to the organization and adapt the procedure will reach their goal faster.
- Those who consistently stick with it will reach their goal faster.
Whoever does this has these 3 phases in prospect:
- Initiation: The focus in this phase lies on creating the basis and understanding of the application of tools. A good strategy in the initiation phase can ensure that employees can be given the first important tools. This is the most intensive time that requires strong support.
- Acquisition: The focus in this phase lies on the use of tools and the transfer of skills. Gaining confidence and security through try and error. Support gradually decreases.
- Application: In the last phase, teams can understand customer needs and create experiences independently. The support is only selective.
Each of these phases lasts between 10-12 months. The change program is well structured, the appropriate resources are available and top management is actively involved.
Misconception no. 3: During a Customer-Centric Change you cannot achieve quick wins.
Ideally, a customer-centric change program has a stream in which customer experiences are changed. MOTs that on average drift away - a potential that lies idle. By tapping into this potential, it is possible to quickly demonstrate the impact that CX can make, and the tools and methods used to gain credibility. With one of my teams, I have increased the NPS of a company by 12 percentage points in one year. After that, the effects of the change program slowly began to set in. Even if there is only a marginal improvement but set broad-based it will have a big effect.
Misconception no. 4: Creating necessity means creating a burning platform
Kotter writes in the first of his 8 steps, that you have to create a necessity for a change. But creating necessity does not mean fear. This is particularly dangerous in Customer-Centric Change. Because fear paralyzes. People go into crisis mode and develop tunnel vision. Fear makes creative processes impossible in the first place. If you are being chased by a tiger, you don't look around. You don't want to learn anything new at that moment. You run! So instead of looking for a burning platform (if we don't do x, the very bad y will happen), you can create an understanding for customer centricity, e.g. by experiencing it yourself. You can work with ease, a wink, and a smile on your face. What would you like to do more? Being led through change under the sword of Damocles or through change with fun?
Misconception no. 5: In business things should not be fun.
But they are allowed to (I am referring here especially to us Central Europeans).
Fun is one of the strongest emotions that can be used to change behavior.
Be courageous! Fun can release enormous power for transformation.
Here is a small demonstration video.