Rainforests aren't alone in health dependent upon an ecosystem. Health of your customer experience strategy depends on how well it reflects your business ecosystem. Think about it: every CX program can only do so much in and of itself -- you'll need cooperation and collaboration of multiple parties, you'll need to time things according to business rhythms, you'll need to embed CX insights into tactical and strategic decision-making across your whole company. In part one of this article, What is Customer Experience Ecosystem?, these inter-dependencies were defined as:
Ecosystem = living and non-living things that make up an environment and affect each other.
Every company’s ecosystem is unique. Different people, interactions, rituals, and tones must be well understood and respected for customer experience excellence to thrive. The earlier you understand and respect your company’s ecosystem, the faster and better your customer experience results will be.
Can you think of a business you regularly bought from until something they changed misunderstood and disrespected your reasons for being loyal to them?
When Evian water sales were soaring in nightclubs, the company decided to improve margins by selling in bulk instead of individual bottles to nightclubs. Sales dropped sharply because its core customers liked the prestige of carrying the Evian bottle; bulk distribution erased Evian’s brand essence.
What’s your company’s brand essence? First and foremost you must understand and respect your brand essence as customers see it. Second, you must understand it from your employees’ viewpoint — not just the brand, but the employee experience in total. Don’t stop there. Think of your suppliers, distributors, partners, and agencies as extensions of your company — after all, you certainly rely upon them all for your success.
Customer experience managers are typically sensitive to customers’ views and to competitive standing, but less adept at the other players’ views and inter-dependencies. Command-and-control approaches to suppliers, distributors, partners and agencies may be affecting their effectiveness, and in turn, your effectiveness, more than you think.
Here are the third and fourth prerequisites:
Part one of this article explained the first two prerequisites to a successful customer experience ecosystem:
1) Understand Your Company’s Whole Ecosystem
2) Respect Ecosystem’s Needs in CX Hierarchy
3rd CX Ecosystem Prerequisite: Weave-in CX to Everything Everyone Does
Customer experience context for rituals, roles and decision-making of all kinds can make all the difference between ongoing success or disruptive snafus. Does your C-team treat customer experience as a determinant of corporate strategy, goals and structure? If not, you’ll be pushing a rock uphill. When you present customer insights, do you help managers see obvious relevance to their work, and impetus to continually improve? When you share customer stories and comments do you indicate what each of the various functional areas can do to make a difference? Are roles and responsibilities written from the customer’s “so what?” viewpoint?
A manager at SunTrust began asking in every meeting: “Are we doing this because customers have said so, or because we’ve been in banking for so long?” Other managers realized this was a good challenge to their thinking and doing, so everyone began to adopt the habit of double-checking internal assumptions. This kind of habit is necessary in every nook and cranny of your business. One mis-step by any function — legal, facilities, safety, marketing, IT, etc. — can cause a costly customer experience snafu.
Pay particular attention to metrics and goals, knowledge management, employee engagement, and customer engagement efforts. All of these are extra susceptible to going sideways inadvertently.
4th CX Ecosystem Prerequisite: Maintain Strength of CX in Your DNA
Weaving customer experience excellence into all your company does is the best insurance against derailment. When you make it integral to advancement criteria and executive hire criteria, you’ll be much more likely to maintain a strong CX ecosystem for decades to come. When you make it central to your Board of Directors’ thinking and doing, customer experience ecosystem will more likely develop deep roots within your company.
Continue to make customer insights intriguing to all functional areas. Be creative to nurture insatiable curiosity about customers. You must fight complacency, keep up with evolving expectations of your customers, and insist on all corners of your company maintaining customer-centered context.
Conclusion: Understand, respect, weave-in, and maintain your customer experience ecosystem as a key success factor for your company. As daunting as it may initially appear, it is certainly feasible, and you may find that it’s much more exciting and fulfilling than you imagined. It will save you a lot of money, ensure goodwill, and accelerate the positives of all of your customer experience management efforts.
Originally published as an Advisors monthly column on CustomerThink.com as What is Customer Experience Ecosystem?
Other articles in this 12-part series:
- Customer-Centered Business: 10 Keys to Organic Growth
- What is: Customer Experience Strategy? (4-point checklist)
- What is: Walking the Customer Experience Talk? (4-point checklist)
- What is a Customer Experience Ecosystem? (4-point checklist)
- Preventing Customer Experience Process Silos (4-point checklist)
- How Customer Experience Policies Empower Growth (4-point checklist)
- Customer Experience Motives Drive Organic Growth (4-point checklist)
- Customer Experience Collaboration Wins Championships (4-point checklist)
- Customer Experience Treasure Trove via Chronic Issues (4-point checklist)
- What is Customer Experience Value Creation? (4-point checklist)
- What is Customer-Centricity DNA? (4-point checklist)
Image licensed to ClearAction Continuum by Shutterstock.