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Customer Experience

Reduce Effort, Drive Loyalty, Transform the Customer Journey

Large rocks are scattered in a body of water in this foggy image. Reducing effort for customers is like removing big rocks in their way.

Guest post by Sean Albertson

Reduce Effort By Evaluating Rocks

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about problems in their organization as rocks. I’m not the first to use the term in that context. I’ve also seen people talk about the size of rocks to emphasize the need to work on the biggest boulders before focusing on smaller stones. They are recognizing there are problems to resolve, but the question is how to do this—even where to start. New and growing capabilities in technology driven by artificial intelligence are making it easier to find the rocks today, but you must use that technology on a solid foundation.

This is a new way to find, prioritize, and then eliminate those customer experience rocks. You may be wondering why I’m so focused on rocks. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you I have rocks in my head. I can’t help it. Everywhere I go, that’s what I see now. You may also think I’m taking this analogy way too far. That is not my intention.

What I am trying to do is give you something you can use in your business to win over the hearts and minds of all employees. People don’t remember statistics or figures. They don’t feel a connection to a list of values or strategies. In fact, a recent study found that “only 28% of managers could correctly name three of their firm’s strategic priorities, let alone act upon them.” People remember and connect with stories. 

Humans have been wired since day one to respond to and remember stories. Stories and oral history have been passed down for millennia before we invented writing. After that, what we primarily wrote were more stories. The Romans didn’t conquer most of Europe and Asia following a set of strategic bullet points. They created myths and legends around powerful heroes and warriors and glory achieved.

Connect with a story to engage your company or team to accomplish complex and coordinated work. “Some systems thinkers even claim that we can only understand complex situations through stories, or useful simplifications that provide a good enough description of the system and framework for action, without being unwieldy, uninteresting, or unintelligible,” says Harvard Business Review.

Think about a winding river. Do you see the river in your mind? Do you see how it winds back and forth with rocks in the river and along the bank? Do you imagine rapids ahead? Now imagine a little more. Can you see your customers in a boat, getting nervous about the rocks protruding out of the white water? Are they worried that their boat will tip over and they’ll be rushed downstream? Do you think they would rather pull over to the side of the river and hike over to the river next to them that is calm and slow?  

The customers’ struggles with your company are the rocks and rapids they face that make it hard to accomplish their goals. Broken processes, poorly trained agents, or technology that doesn’t work right all make the experience harder and create disloyalty. Therefore, if the customer journey is like a river and the rocks are getting in the way, companies need to better understand the kind of rocks the customers face. This is a complex ask. There are many different types, shapes, and sizes of challenges a customer may run into. The departments in your company need to work together to find and address these challenges. It’s important that your employees understand what needs to be done to make the customer journey smoother and why this is so important.

The ROCKS strategy is meant to help you not just align on the concepts and strategies through the stories but also to drive the work and identify the most impactful events affecting your specific customer base. Every industry and company within it has unique challenges. Whatever the industry, the need to compete on experience is more important today than ever before.

Differentiated technology, price, or product capabilities can no longer sustain an organization as competitors are always ready to swoop in and match a successful strategy. In fact, a recent Salesforce study found that 80 percent of customers say the experience a company provides is just as necessary as its products or services.

Your organization’s success may be determined by how well you can help customers navigate their journey. So, to build on the analogy, if you want to change or improve an experience, you first must understand it. To find and resolve rocks, you need to better understand how the rocks were formed, where they came from, and what they are made from. Then you can respond accordingly.

Exclusive excerpt from 4ROCKS: Reduce Effort, Drive Loyalty, Transform the Customer Journey, a new book by Sean AlbertsonBuy the book on Amazon. Sean is the Founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX4ROCKS, LLC, and a former executive at Charles Schwab, T-Mobile, and others.  Learn more on his website. Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

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