Behind the Handlebars
A motorcycle is a two wheeled vehicle that is most stable when moving forward at a steady speed. If you don’t believe me, then visit a local motorcycle showroom for this simple test. Mount a bike, kick up the kickstand, lift your feet and watch the look of horror on the sales rep's face as you and their cherished inventory come crashing down. (Actually, please don’t try this experiment, you can just take my word for it.)
A rider approaches an intersection and puts her feet down as she brings the bike to a full stop. The light changes, she kicks into first gear, releases the clutch, twists the throttle and pulls her feet onto the foot pegs and rolls smoothly forward. When not in motion, a motorcycle requires support to remain upright: either the rider’s legs or a combination of kickstand and front fork turn. Only when rolling forward does the bike become stable on its own, without anyone or thing to lean on. (Keeping the shiny side up once in motion is a topic for another post.) Dropping a bike is dangerous to the rider and causes damage to the motorbike, and getting a dropped motorcycle safely upright again requires a lot of energy and work.
Lessons for Customer Experience
Likewise, your customer experience efforts require forward momentum to maintain stability. I’ve been witness to many CX programs prone to erratic fits and starts:
- Initial kickoff energy that dwindles to nothing
- Inconsistent, “whenever we have time” survey deployments
- Irregular sharing of results and insights
- Unpredictable scheduling for governance meetings.
Often customer strategy efforts get back-burnered while matrixed resources dedicated only part-time to CX focus on their day jobs. Other times, dedicated CX practitioners are spread too thin and jump from firefight to firefight, letting program consistency suffer. So what can you do to keep your customer strategy efforts rolling smoothly forward?
- Communications Strategy: Take a page from your marketing team’s playbook and build a communication strategy, including content types, channel, audience and a schedule, and stick to your strategy. Regular communications of VoC results and insights, case studies and employee success stories keeps your CX strategy top of mind and maintains momentum.
- Survey Deployment Schedule: Strong, stable programs have a smooth survey cadence that ensures a steady stream of customer insights. Post-transaction surveys are typically evergreen, deployed on a daily basis. Relationship surveys are often deployed less frequently, but still on a reliable schedule (e.g. monthly or quarterly). Sticking to a planned survey cadence eliminates customer “radio silence,” ensuring a regular flow of customer input and action alerts.
- Standing Governance Meetings: CX governance workshops should be as reliable as receiving a residential energy bill. Colleagues can count on the sessions occurring regularly (e.g. the first Tuesday of every month) and know what to expect in terms of content, accountability and actions. Business units will have their “homework” done in advance of the regularly scheduled event and a calendar placeholder helps minimize non-essential scheduling conflicts.
- New Employee Onboarding: Employee turnover, new hires, promotions and transfers are a reality in most any company environment, and it’s essential to the ongoing success of CX efforts to plan for this eventuality. Coordinate with your business units, or HR team if necessary, to ensure new colleagues are introduced to your CX program and understand what is expected of them: why it’s important, where to access insights, how to respond to alerts and their role in acting on results.
Irregular VoC data flow and stop-and-go CX improvement activities can sap your customer experience initiative of momentum and cause instability. Worse yet, should the program stall completely, it is at risk of faltering and falling over (think of the showroom experiment mentioned earlier), requiring a heck of a lot of effort to pick things up and put the pieces back together. Colleagues and customers alike benefit from a structured, well-planned program cadence, and the stability of your program is improved when energy and effort are regularly injected into the initiative over time. Don’t let a lack of consistent forward motion rob your of your hard-earned customer experience wins.