You did everything by the book. You attended Forrester’s conferences about customer experience, you joined the trade association and read countless books and reports on the topic. Then you conducted a cross-functional journey mapping session resulting in a beautiful rendition of the complex journey your customers go through. After numerous internal efforts, you managed to acquire a portion of the budget for a Voice of Customer program and have tracked your NPS score ever since, which seems to be hovering at the same level no matter what you do. Last year you even managed to get 30 minutes on the global leadership agenda and hired an inspirational speaker to convince everyone that it’s time for true commitment.

Every year you present the latest VOC results to different parts of the company, and everyone agrees with the insights you’ve so carefully gathered. You conduct your own town hall meetings and employees seem to be relating to the message. One supervisor in the call center even asked for your slides so she could share them with her team. And yet, despite all of your efforts, your organization is not really doing it. Not really living it. You keep on telling yourself it’s a multi-year journey. (You heard so from an analyst during a webcast and decided to adapt it.) But deep down, it feels like something is off. Something is just not happening. There’s no progress. It’s like you’ve hit a wall, and now you’re just treading water.

You did everything you could, and you hit a wall or a ditch— whatever you want to call it. You are not alone.
In the customer experience maturity model, you’ve passed the awareness and discovery stages but failed in the deployment phase. Most CX professionals find themselves face-to-face with the huge obstacle of deployment and fail to conquer it. They are running with a full tank of gas in neutral operation and are not gaining speed or momentum.

At the root cause of this phenomena are several simple truths:

  1. Charter – They were never chartered or budgeted to transform the organization. The resources provided to them could hardly cover basic awareness. Senior management never planned for this to be a breakthrough effort. It wasn’t meant to be customer-compliant management.
  2. Strategy – The CX program was not strategic to the organization and the organization never really embraced it beyond mere awareness and excitement.
  3. Competence – Don’t confuse passion with competence. Just because you are passionate, doesn’t mean you know how to drive transformation. Your CEO knows it, too, which is why he is not providing the support to make it a success. You need to get professional help.
  4. Silos – Breaking through silos is tough. Aligning the organization around one single journey is not a simple task. Many previous attempts to create alignment are where organizations fail. It requires a unique strategy for silo busting.
  5. Change management – Everyone agrees to change until it actually comes time for them to change. With CX transformation, there is a strong change management component. Don’t assume that peoples’ excitement equates to readiness to stop what they have been doing for the last ten years.
  6. Time – No one has five years to wait until they see results. “This is a journey” is not a message that resonates well with senior management. They live in small windows of results, and so should the CX programs.
These simple but classic mistakes result in CX fatigue and are when organizations just move on. If you have encountered the wall of CX deployment, you will need to jumpstart your efforts differently, and this time, you will need an accelerator. Your organization may not be willing to give you a second chance, and if they do, they will want to ensure things will be different this time around. What is the first step toward renewal? Address the results to date and develop a program that will impact the real numbers your CEO cares about— revenue and profit.

Lior Arussy is the president of Strativity Group, a global experience design, and transformation firm. Follow Lior @LiorStrativity
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