Authenticity is an over-used buzzword in the business world and yet its true meaning could hold the key to future success in customer experience (CX).
In a recent Econsultancy article, CEO of Engine Transformation, Emma Robertson, proposes “The future of CX isn’t what the customer sees on the outside, but what’s done organisationally and operationally internally.” Her point being, it’s not enough to establish a standalone CX function because delivering great customer experiences needs to be right at the heart of a business.
In my experience, if CX is part of the DNA of a business then everyone in that business understands the part they play in delivering it. Responsibility doesn’t just rest with a particular department, it’s for everyone in the organisation.
As Emma Robertson rightly points out, not every business is at that stage of CX maturity. Internal transformation is a huge but necessary task to get organisations into a position where CX is not about what a customer can see on the outside but how they feel because of the way the business operates on the inside.
Steps to successful transformation
The article recognises the need for organisations to be pragmatic about internal transformation and how aligning internal behaviours towards CX will inevitably require compromise. In particular, “Organisations should be prepared to compromise on what we think of as a typical customer-facing change if it cannot be delivered upon consistently or aligned strategically.”
Instead of overpromising, the suggestion is that CX should be contextualized and that internal transformation must also draw on brand, culture and organisation, data, strategy and technology. Since every business is different, the focus on these interdependent elements may be different too. Yet there are some common themes for successful transformation:
- The activity should accentuate what makes the business different (unique)
- The activity should avoid one area dominating resources over others (balanced)
- The activity should be well thought through and managed as a whole (connected)
As Emma Robertson argues, addressing these themes will help make customer experience, “Part of the DNA of your organisation, not a department within it.” There are clear advantages to this holistic approach to change. As she goes on to say, it can power external experiences and influence how customers feel about the business in three particular ways:
- Creating differentiated and authentic experiences that turn into positive relationships.
- Shifting the emphasis of data and metrics from reporting what just happened to predicting what happens next.
- Aligning employee experience and customer experience to ensure what the customer feels is authentic and that people can consistently deliver this.
Bringing everyone on the journey
For me, the whole essence of this article is that you should say what you mean and mean what you say. To emphasise this point, there is one word that comes up several times and I have found is fundamental to internal transformation: authentic.
Designing a programme of internal transformation is one thing, but people will only come on that journey if they feel it is authentic. As the article rightly points out, this applies to both employees and customers.
So leaders need to stand up and be authentic too. When they speak about the organisation’s focus on the customer, they should mean it. If they truly want to do the right thing for customers, they need to show empathy and understanding for those customers. And if – as the article suggests – the future of CX is that it must be part of the very fabric of the organisation, they should make it happen. Incrementally, pragmatically and authentically.
With honesty, empathy and authenticity from leaders, internal transformation can deliver a step-change in CX that leaves the customer not only experiencing something but feeling it too, and isn’t that emotional connection the very goal we are all trying to achieve?