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Why customer experience and organizational change management make good partners

Why customer experience and organizational change management make good partners
Why CX and OCM Make Such Good Partners

Following up on a previous blog where I talked about customers not wanting us to hide the word "change," I jumped at the chance to co-author this blog with a colleague in our Customer Experience (CX) Practice. Having worked side by side on projects together we have seen firsthand that CX and OCM make a great pair in not only delivering on our customer's expectations, but often exceeding them.

What's our secret? Well, here's the thing…it's not a secret at all. It is a skill, and we all have it. Yes, that skill is empathy—the ability to understand the feelings of others.  Meredith and I both lean towards the empathetic side of things - I recently took the StrengthFinders Test with my team and was pleasantly, albeit not entirely, surprised to learn that my best strength was empathy. Meredith’s team is also cueing up to take the Strengthfinder test; and with her Sociology background, I would not be surprised to find empathy in her top three too.

This makes a lot of sense when we both think about our best work and the work we love to do. We both have gravitated to the people focus - centering on the client or customer with a people first approach. We care about the impacts and we put ourselves in their shoes and imagine what the upcoming experience for them will be.  We want to meet them where they are and do what we can to make that journey easier.  It is why we make such a great pair and team: OCM and CX.

There is no silver bullet in building and delivering a Customer Experience program.  Companies struggle to do this effectively for a variety of reasons, a few being:

  • Lack of a clear strategy and company alignment
  • Failure to truly consider their customers and their needs
  • Failure to listen to customers effectively
  • Evolving too slowly to stay relevant (see our white paper on agile transformation for some examples)

In all of these cases empathy plays a key role – both for the customer AND for the companies and their employees.  It is important to remember that when you make a change to your customer, you are also impacting your employees.  Let’s explore a few of these reasons:

Lacking clear strategy and company alignment

An organization is able to accelerate their CX improvements with a clearly defined strategy that allows the company to evolve effectively. This demands defining a vision (i.e., your “North Star”) and aligning the organization to a common view, with core values illuminated by customer expectations for how you will make decisions, truthfully assess the maturity of your organization and build a roadmap for change. The hard work is ahead and demands a clear roadmap with way points to adjust your internal processes, set new KPI’s, establish governance and revisit roles and responsibilities. Understand this can be a daunting effort, so it is important to meet your team where they are at, being empathetic to the changes that they must experience and bringing them along the change curve to ensure buy in.

Failure to consider the customer’s needs

A key tenet to delivering and delighting others in memorable customer experiences is meeting them where they are at before taking them on the journey. To do this you need to first understand your customer. Journey maps and personas are just two ways in which we ask companies to take on the view point of their customers, to empathize with the experience of varied customer types and place themselves in the Customer’s shoes.  Who are they? What do they do? How do they feel in the experience? Use your OCM partners to help you in driving discussion on what is working well or not and how do to influence or change those engagements.

Failure to listen effectively to the customer

A recent article we read in Forbes talked about how airlines are going the extra mile to meet customers where they are at, socially, digitally and physically. This article mentioned some interesting statistics. Just one U.S. airline gets an above average score from customers who engage in conversations about it on social media platforms, and only a couple of them score above average based on conversations consumers have about them in more conventional channels. But no U.S. airline scores above average in both categories, and some flatly aren’t very good at either. Well, that sounds like a perfect opportunity to improve and better understand your customer's needs and desires. That starts with listening. Engagement Labs completed a study on the airline industry and customer experience stating "The airline industry as a whole thrives on customer satisfaction and places emphasis on developing trusted relationships with its consumers to ensure that when booking decisions are made, their service remains top of mind…" Trust is not granted easily in today’s hyperactive market. It has to be earned–and recent incidents in the industry demonstrate how social media can turn poor experiences into high-profile PR nightmares. Start by understanding the customer. That is where really good customer experience strategy comes into play and why the paring of OCM and CX can be a powerful differentiator.

How are your teams working together to delight your customers? Share your comments and success stories with us. Image courtesy of

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