I was born in a country that ceased to exist when I was 11. Back then, change felt exciting. Later in life, when I was going through a horrific divorce, even the slightest change, like a train delay was unbearable. I got through it, rebuilt my family, moved countries, launched a successful business and embraced the change paradigm forever, as it is the only constant. I am happy to be sharing my personal and professional experience of managing and leading change, through the CX lens.
When I started leading customer centric change professionally, it puzzled me why the company I worked for went through the never-ending cycle of excitement, anxiousness, denial and acceptance. As human beings, in our personal and professional capacity, we seek predictability, consistency and order. As business leaders, we are looking to control and minimize risks. Our ability to predict, let alone manage future events is exceptionally limited and learning how to operate in the ever-changing world is key.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a comfortable state of change?
One of the biggest problems I see in global CX practices is organisational adoption and 1 in 2 CX professionals agree with me by saying stakeholder engagement and leadership buy-in are their biggest challenges*. There is normally a great deal of excitement developing a CX Strategy and mapping customer journeys, but when it comes to implementing the required changes all of a sudden, we see priorities change. Being immersed in this subject for a while I developed an agile CX Management Toolkit – its application with clients taught me three things:
Set a clear CX ambition but don’t create the impression that it should be carved in golden letters and never changed, because it will need to be adjusted.
Execute small, achievable and timely projects to deliver tangible results quickly.
Create enjoyment around task completion, even a micro win is a win and deserves to be celebrated!
Set a clear CX ambition.
To set a clear CX ambition, it is useful to understand your current state. Just as you would do outside of CX, when you, for example, think about personal finance. You would assess how much money you have coming in, where it is currently going and how this needs to change to achieve a saving goal. Make sure you as a CX leader and everyone in the organization are clear on your current CX maturity in terms of strategy, measurements, processes, culture, customer understanding and decision making. Only then could you devise a customer experience strategy, linked to the business strategy, and key milestones to achieve it. Do remember, however, this is a long-term game that needs to be approached with due diligence and appropriate planning. In the meantime, look for specific things you can improve for your customers now. You can’t afford to wait!
Execute small achievable and timely projects.
Going back to a saving money analogy, you need to conduct a feasibility assessment. Would it be possible for you to save 500 USD a month? Would it be sustainable? Could you start by going out once less a month? Where else could you be comfortable making small sacrifices to achieve a bigger goal?
First thing to get familiar with is Result Oriented Task Setting. Here I would use 4 steps to ensure the task is clear, even when it is myself executing it, and everyone has the same expectations from the result.
Why do we need this task?
What result do I expect?
Does my task start with a result-oriented verb, such as sign off, reduce, improve, deliver?
Is the first step clear to make sure the execution can be started immediately?
Do not forget to review the results in planning and synchronisation meetings and to ask yourself “ Is the expected result achieved? Any further steps needed to complete it?” You probably recognise a reference to PDCA cycle, a basic, but nonetheless useful approach to the task performance.
“Be the leader you wish you had,” said Simon Sinek.
I couldn’t agree more. It is in your power to create a change climate that feels rewarding rather than threatening. Continuously remind people how many small tasks they have completed successfully and how they contributed to the overall success, thank them for their contribution and celebrate successes.
Living through change and leading change is not child play, but in our fruitless search for stability we may miss amazing opportunities. Be brave and embrace the ever-changing world, for yourself, your customers and your organisation!