Do we have the CX strategy model upside down?

Do we have the CX strategy model upside down?

Traditional business planning models say that the business strategy should dictate the technology strategy which in turn dictates the CX technology we implement. But what if we have this upside down? If we’re striving to be customer-centric, why are our customers at the bottom of this hierarchy?

If we truly believe our customers should be at the centre of our strategy, shouldn’t our business planning reflect that? Here’s my view.

The traditional customer experience technology model

Traditional customer experience (CX) models are very much a top-down view. The business strategy at the top guides the technology strategy, which then helps you create a technology plan.

Traditional Customer Experience technology model

At a high level, the business strategy has historically been articulated in things like mission and vision statements. From there you articulate your business plan which is your main enablement tool. Next, you’d focus on the technology strategy with the enabler here being your enterprise and solution architecture.

At the very bottom is the technology plan – and this is where a lot of organisations run into problems.

What often happens is vendors push specific forms of CX technology and this tends to derail the business direction. It becomes very much the bright shiny object syndrome – deploying an impressive technology to address a problem that may not exist. Unfortunately, this technology rarely aligns with the needs of the organisation or, more importantly, the needs of the customer.

This top-down model is an imposed model with the customer at the very bottom. If they are lucky the customer’s voice is heard by the business in the planning stage, or by someone that has been listening to customers while they were developing the technology strategy. But more often than not they are an after-thought.

Reshaping the model to put customers at the centre

Today, we’re reshaping this top-down imposed hierarchy by putting customers and CX at the centre of the structure.

Forward-thinking organisations are using their CX strategy as their core document. This is shaped by insights from their customers – listening to their needs, wants and preferences. And that CX strategy is being used to inform their business, digital and technology strategies.

This updated model has two key differences which set it apart from the traditional model:

1. It’s dynamic
2. It has a dedicated business owner

The traditional model is cyclical. In most organisations, the strategy would be reviewed every 12 months (if they were lucky). In this updated model, the review process is more dynamic. As changes occur either in customer requirements or in capabilities in the market, these components can be updated as often as needed to ensure the strategy is still relevant and targeted.

Ownership is another key difference. In the traditional model, ownership is split between the strategy and the enterprise architecture teams. In the second model, each strategy is owned by a particular person. For example, the CXO owns CX strategy, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) owns the digital strategy etc. Each owner continues to reshape and refine their strategy as the market and technology evolve.

Customer Centric Experience technology model

Strong foundations and customer clarity are key

If you’re going to go down this path, your foundations must be accurately built and defined.

Do you have a clear articulation of your business objectives? Business objectives have been traditionally been defined using priorities, identified areas of improvement, and definition tools like SMART.

What’s your business end state in the markets in which you’re operating? For example, you might want to be the best financial services provider in the Australian market for the provision of investment advisory services. Having that level of clarity is important because that becomes your benchmark for the success of your organisation. Once you’ve charted your business objectives you need to ensure that everyone is aligned and shares these agreed objectives.

The next important step is getting clear about customer needs.

What do you believe the customer needs? And as the sanity check for this belief (because of course your view is just objective until it’s verified), what does your customer believe they need from your organisation? This becomes the centre of your CX approach.

It’s important to remember this information only represents the customers’ views at one particular point in time. You also need to consider the future state:

  • What will your customers need in the near future?
  • How are technology capabilities evolving?
  • What broader environmental circumstances changes are happening that could affect the customer experience?

Once you’ve got a feel for where the organisation is, and you’ve got a view around where you believe you need to be, you can then look at how to get there. What do you need to do to get from where you are to that future state?

From there you can start to figure out what your key enablers are, your priorities, cost clarity and associated timeframes.

Are you really ready for change?

COVID-19 has been a great catalyst for disruption, but not all organisations are willing to embrace it, and not all organisations are suited to this kind of upheaval.

It’s important to consider your businesses’ capacity and appetite for change.

You’re just about to undertake a significant request of the business to change and adapt. How ready are they for it? How willing are they to embrace it? And can you get the level of commitment that you need from your core business owners to enable that change?

It’s also important to think about what will happen if you’re successful.

If you achieve this end state of actually thrilling and delighting your customers, what’s going to happen from a competitive perspective?

Is it possible for your competitors to quickly replicate what you’ve done? Are you at risk of losing your degree of competitive advantage?

Or is there a significant opportunity for even more evolution in the organisation once you’ve become successful?
It’s important to not only look to the horizon but beyond it as well.

John Reed is a Senior Consultant for Synergy Enterprise Solutions. For a real-life example of how this approach can work, read about Business Australia’s transformation journey. John used this customer-centric model to rebuild their entire telephony and contact centre strategy and position the business for future growth and optimisation.