Faced with increasingly commoditized markets, more and more insurance providers are launching customer experience improvement programs to differentiate themselves. However, there’s something many of these companies don’t yet realize: the vast majority of their programs will fail.
In a survey of over one thousand companies by communications provider Avaya, an astounding 81 percent indicated that their customer experience improvement programs had failed to deliver results.
Those are a lot of companies wasting a lot of time and a lot of money on something that isn’t working.
What’s worse, given how these failures typically play out, companies end up losing more than just their investment in a better customer experience. They lose credibility — in the eyes of their employees, and potentially even their customers.
Launched with great fanfare, most of these programs are left to die a slow death, starved for funding and attention. What remains strong is the signal that sends to their workforce — confirming the staff’s suspicions that customer experiencereally wasn’t that important to the company. These programs become yet another casualty in the long line of corporate transformational changes that, in reality, just turn out to be the “initiative du jour.”
Given how that realization can take the wind out of an organization’s sails, many companies are probably better off never launching a customer experience program in the first place, as opposed to pursuing one halfheartedly and letting it wither over time.
With so many of these programs cratering, it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions companies ask about these initiatives is “what’s the number one driver of success?” I love that question because the answer is so clear and unambiguous: It’s executive commitment.
Having witnessed many organizations tread the customer experience strategic path, there’s no doubt in my mind that the unflinching commitment of a company’s senior leadership is the single greatest predictor of success for these programs.
That’s not to suggest that a compelling vision, flawless execution and skillful change management aren’t critical to the journey. They absolutely are. But it all has to start with a level of executive commitment that goes beyond mere sponsorship for the customer experience cause.
To be among the 19 percent of companies that succeed on this journey, what does that required level of commitment involve? Here are three markers to look for:
No. 1: Consistency
If you view customer experience improvement as a project like any other, with a defined beginning and end, then you may want to reconsider this path.
Companies that succeed in this realm recognize the need to embed customer experience in their DNA, to make it an integral and enduring part of how they do business. That work never ends. Customer expectations and preferences will always evolve, as will a firm’s products and services. As a result, fixing, polishing and tuning the customer experience is an ongoing task.
If yours is an organization that easily gets distracted by the “next big thing” — whether it’s Big Data, predictive analytics or AI – then that may foreshadow problems down the line. When it comes to building an effective customer experience improvement program, the importance of consistency — in organizational focus and executive messaging — cannot be overstated.
Companies that succeed in this realm recognize the need to embed customer experience in their DNA. (Photo: Thinkstock)
No. 2: Appreciation of scope
Some business leaders think customer experience initiatives are about a good tagline or a clever marketing campaign. Others think it’s about sending satisfaction surveys to customers, or putting staff through soft-skills training.
These may be components of a customer experience improvement effort, but they alone hardly constitute a robust one.