Don’t wait to get in shape!

The holiday season is not typically when people start thinking about getting in shape. Why do so many people wait until the new year to start exercising and eating healthy? Shouldn’t there be more of a focus on fitness when you are probably consuming the most calories (between Thanksgiving and the new Year)?

I was talking to a client recently who was frustrated; she told me that her executive team talks about customer experience all the time. They appear to be convinced that it matters, but when its time to take action, they don’t do anything to drive real improvement. She asked me “how can that be? If they get it, why don’t they do something?”

That was a really good question and I had to think about it for a while. I am going to share an analogy made everything clear for me: Customer experience is the “eat healthy and exercise” of the business world. How many times have you heard someone tell you that they are on a diet as they take a bite of a cookie, or guzzle down a coke? Or maybe they’ll tell you they’re going to start exercising next month, as they spend the next couple of weeks being sedentary. If they know it is important to improve their health, why do they wait?

Think about it…there are some parallels between CX and healthy living:

  • Everyone knows it is important! (Why they should do it)
    • 93% of executives say that improving the customer experience is one of their organization’s top three priorities in the next two years, and 91% wish to be considered a customer experience leader in their industry.
  • When talking to others, they probably pretend they do it better than they actually do. For example…
    •  80% of enterprise organizations described themselves as delivering “superior” CX, but only 8% of customers say they’ve experienced “superior” experiences from these organizations.
  • They are unsure about what they should do, because it is complicated and confusing.
    • Executives cite limitations from inflexible technology, siloed organizations and systems, and insufficient investment as the biggest obstacles to delivering the best possible customer experience.
  • The things they should be doing aren’t fun or easy, so they often avoid them.
    • A good customer experience strategy requires fundamental organizational changes. Successful initiatives that have improved the customer experience span people, process and technology.

While I was in college, I worked as a personal trainer, so this analogy came easily for me. When people came to me for fitness advice, I didn’t need to explain why they should exercise…they already knew it and that’s why they asked for help. Similarly, most executives acknowledge that CX is very important, so I don’t spend much time explaining why CX should matter. Instead, I try to help them figure out exactly what to do differently and then make it easy for them to do it.

In an attempt to simplify healthy habits, experts created simple guidelines like “eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day” or “play 60.” It is also why restaurants are making it easier for consumers to make good choices by adding nutritional info to their menus.

In customer experience, we can take the same approach. We can spell out in simple terms what employees should do to improve customer experience. Once customer centricity is embedded in the company culture, then we can make it much easier for them to deploy those practices by providing better tools, processes, and training.

Just like exercise and healthy living, CX doesn’t have a finish line; you don’t get to a point where you can stop and say…I’ve made it! CX is a lifelong pursuit. If you know that you need to improve CX, then now is the time to act. Every day that goes by that you provide anything less than exceptional customer experiences, you are losing potential revenue.

Side note – if you’re thinking about starting a diet or exercise program in the new year, after you are done being a cookie monster this holiday season, start today, before you put on those extra pounds.

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