“You’re soaking in it.”  Do you remember that commercial for dishwashing soap that was supposed to be so incredibly good for your skin that the lady who’d gone in (to see Madge, remember?) for a manicure was unknowingly enjoying its benefits, thinking she was dipping her fingers into some wonderful skin tonic?  Or have you heard the concept of fish not realizing they’re wet because they’re surrounded by water?

This occurred to me the other day when I was speaking with a potential client about his organization’s CX efforts.  Some folks simply don’t see the forest for the trees and others overcomplicated the idea of Customer Experience so much so that they don’t know where to start.  This company was administering surveys and even had the beginnings of a Walking in the Customers Shoes program in that the CEO from time to time would take a step back and attempt to experience their offerings from the outside perspective.  (The organization was small enough that it wasn’t totally possible for him to accomplish this with complete anonymity, so his efforts were somewhat limited.)  He and his leadership team talked a good game about Customer centricity, and the rest of the team seemed (at least from his perspective) to be on board with that.  They weren’t really doing anything with the insights they were gathering from this VoC program, and there wasn’t even much of a tracking mechanism.

He was a bit frustrated.  “We’re not really doing CX,” he lamented.

Well, I don’t know about that, I replied.  I wanted to channel Madge and tell him he’s actually soaking in it.

See, those of us in the profession of Customer Experience can see sprouts of even a nascent CX program and appreciate the work for what it is:  A good start.  But sometimes, what with all our certifications, our discussion groups, our conferences, even our own language at times, we may not realize that we’re making CX sound like more work than it really is.  It’s not brain surgery and it’s true that any organization can “do” CX.  In fact, many who think they aren’t, actually are.  I suppose what delineates a company that is from one that isn’t “doing” CX is simply structure.

The organization led by the CEO above has a (albeit not necessarily robust) Voice of the Customer program.  It’s got the beginnings of a Customer-centric culture in that its leadership is at least talking the talk.  Walking the walk only takes really a few tweaks and maybe some guidance…a few tangible things leaders can actually set their minds to.  As I’ve written before, culture can be tricky, but like CX itself, sometimes people make it more complicated than it really is, and there are actual, operational things one can do to work on a Customer-centric culture.

But that really goes to the heart of what it takes to “do” CX (as with a lot of things that aren’t ‘brain surgery’):  Sometimes we just need some structure.  By the way we talk about it in CX circles and on our blogs and in our webinars, those not in our CX club may mistake it as some sort of rarified field of study and practice.  While it’s true that the profession of Customer Experience does take study and practice, the foundational building blocks have been around for quite some time.  And lots of folks are already doing it.

Surveys have been around for a long time.  But if an organization simply surveys its Customers and calls it a day, it’s not really doing CX:  There needs to be some sort of action.  Likewise, if a company relies only on surveys to glean insights into the Customers’ experiences, that is not going to answer the mail on how its Customers truly feel, and they’re likely to be surprised when they lose Customers.  A robust and integrated CX effort requires curious VoC vehicles (to include, but by no means limited to, surveys) and analysis of the results as well as system-wide Process Engineering programming to take action on what those VoC insights uncover.  What’s funny is that the company I was speaking with actually has a great PE organization and has been delivering tremendous value from a process improvement perspective for quite some time.  I asked if they’d considered slightly shifting the focus of those efforts toward the insights from their VoC program (rather than solely on resource or cost savings), and a light went on for them.

That’s where the leadership and cultural aspects of your CX strategy come into play:  By talking about being Customer-centric, you’re bringing it into the minds of your team.  By actually prioritizing the investments of time and energy (in this case, the leveraging of your PE resources) with respect to improving your CX, you’re walking the walk, and that goes a long way to driving a Customer-centric culture.

All the pieces and building blocks were in place, they just needed to put some structure and strategy to work to bring it all together.  Ask yourself and your organization if you think CX is something you “do” or not.  Then take a look around.  You may be soaking in it.