CX & EX: Two ingredients in your seven-layer dip of digital transformation

As I mentioned in the previous post, most of my career has been experience-centric when there wasn’t nomenclature like “customer experience” or “employee experience.” Well, the latter probably existed but was more in reference to how a candidate moved through application and hiring process into a full-time employee. And while that’s important from how an organization brings it’s EVP to life most immediately within a person’s first 90 days in an organization, I’m more interested in how we think about the experience of that employee’s day-to-day existence in terms of the value they can bring to customers or the organization.

Back in 2012 or thereabouts – I remember working at CareerBuilder and it was just at the time when companies were thinking about how to utilize social media in more concrete ways that could drive user engagement & the great content boom really took off. Ah, simpler times!

At the time, CareerBuilder had a number of disparate social media channels that were being run by people who were interested & passionate about social. But that meant each channel was owned and used in widely different ways. The consistency of content, the tone & voice, the response times…nothing matched. The experience for an end-user looking at the brand across these channels and expecting a consistent corporate response was sadly lacking.

My job at the time was to bring together all those channels under singular ownership within the Marketing team and I became the ‘face’ of the channels, as I’ve mentioned in this post.

But that really was the beginning of my own CX awakening. I saw that what we were doing as a company was not orchestrated in a way that was helpful or even clear to our target audiences. And slowly as I organized those channels and started to build a comprehensive strategy around those channels, I realized how many other touchpoints were misaligned – from the website experience, to the email programs, to our customer support and career education teams.

I say this now with a bit of a smile because I know that many organizations STILL operate like this. Huge organic growth necessitates rapid adoption and deployment of experiences that don’t necessarily link together. Things are built and organized myopically and the success or failure of those efforts are also viewed in isolation.

At the time, I was the bee in many a person’s bonnet because I was demanding that all of our teams coalesce around a singular, consistent experience – a journey, if you will – from first-time registration through their anniversary of being a job seeker (or customer, as it were).

And what’s true from 2012 until now – people still need the bee buzzing around the organization to ensure siloes are broken down, rallying people from front-line support agents to sales to product & tech around doing what’s right for the customer that also delivers value back to the business. I try to remind people, CX is about putting people first – but it’s not about being a charity.

CX is about bringing the voice of what people want/need/wish for, the data that shows how they behave (and how that may differ than what they actually say they do or want), and using that as a rubric to prioritize the work that can differentiate the experience enough to drive business value (market share growth, revenue growth, et al).

But equally important to understanding what a customer experiences, is understanding the underlying ecosystem that’s been created that brought that customer experience to life. Remember – it’s not like the experience just occurs. It was designed, whether with intention or not.

That’s where service design and employee experience matters – it’s all that backstage stuff happening that shows you were internal efficiency can occur. And even as a ‘practitioner’ – it’s still very confusing. One of the challenges is just figuring out very specifically what you’re trying to show and then get internal alignment on verbiage/lexicon of what you want to call your artifacts. I mean, journey maps, experience maps, product maps, service blueprints, service roadmap, et al. Try to make sense of what each one uniquely does and I’ll give you a gold star.

Even harder was getting buy-in from different groups who seemingly owned parts or the entirety of these items. So we landed here:

Do I think these are perfect? Absolutely not. But did they get people aligned on what we wanted and how we talked about it? Absolutely.

In many organizations, I would say product roadmaps may be the most utilized – but to what fidelity probably depends on the maturity and needs of the org. Experience maps are trickier in that they require much more input from your customers – both current and lapsed – to inform what level of friction occurs across the lifecycle of your service delivery, whether it’s through technology or people interactions.

Even harder than experience maps I think are service blueprints/diagrams. Looking at a visual diagram of HOW people and technology interact to deliver something to a user, with layers of data or metrics that show velocity, latency, frequency, etc., is the holy grail for many organizations, especially today, who are looking to reduce their operating costs/cost-to-serve.

And it’s really, really hard. That’s why people tend to avoid it. Even with mapping out processes, then the data collection and architecture becomes a critical conversation to really talk about what long-term change needs to occur to actually orchestrate and coordinate the backstage efforts to make change within the customer’s experience.

Process mining, time studies, manual effort indices, et al. It’s a lot of work. And organizations either pay $500k or more for a large consulting partner to come in to give them some insights (without even changing anything), or they try to do it themselves and succeed or tire and move on to something easier.

Once again, my persistent and annoying tenacity is why this type of work is so gratifying to me. When you think of the power of having this data and that intelligence at your fingertips to know very specifically what customers are complaining about, having a visual diagram to show you what’s creating that situation, and looking at data around the service to very quickly prioritize areas to quick-fix or think long-term transformation, you move faster than your competitors and still stay closest to the customer.

In my mind, it’s a no brainer but it’s challenging and you need the right people, the right org design (which this activity can also inform), and the right buy-in to bring this all to life and orient people around a singular compass so people are making decisions rooted in objective analysis.

So don’t let people fool you and think that CX and EX are just buzzwords. These are critical concepts of how companies approach transformation – digital or otherwise.

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