The professional football season ends in early January for most of the teams in the National Football League. What follows is an in-depth process – review, analysis, planning, offseason workouts and training camp to name off a few of the steps.
If all goes well, that combination will lead to dramatic improvement. But everything that is learned, developed and practiced must be combined into a game plan that proves successful on the field.
Let’s return to the business world. Your Experience Management team, and the organization as a whole, has adopted the XM Operating Framework. You have embraced the competencies and utilized the skills. Like the football team, your group has combined monitoring, discovery, visioning, design and much more.
Now is the time for the all-crucial Experience Integration. In one sense, it could be the payoff for all the work the Customer Experience (CX) team has done. In another, it is the beginning of an entirely new adventure of implementation, evaluation and adjustment.
It is important not to run out of steam at this point. The CX team often operates without a multitude of resources and/or team members who try to do too much. But Experience Integration is often a handoff to stakeholders who will carry out the steps that have been so carefully developed throughout the process.
Setting the Stage
A key to successful Experience Integration is whether previous steps on the journey to this point have gone well. Ideally, those stakeholders responsible for the overall customer experience were identified early and became champions of the work taking place. They are the people who can oversee the adoption and accountability that are critical to the integration.
Many Experience Integrations consist of altering processes or procedures that already exist. If the changes are more innovative or disruptive, the time and focus required will likely be much more extensive. In either situation, prior development of focused priorities and detailed success metrics will pay off as you move forward with integration.
The priorities should, of course, be aligned with overall organizational objectives. Again, the earlier this takes place the better. But if slight adjustments are needed at this stage, they can be made.
Another key in the Experience Integration process is to try to not do too much at once. Customer feedback, surveys, operational data management and other tools will often yield numerous information and opportunities. But hopefully the visioning and design steps have narrowed down the areas of focus.
Pilot projects can also be a way to test an Experience Integration. Either a portion of your company’s employees or a subset of customers or vendors can be involved in order to learn, adapt and refine. Hopefully, you experience some early success and build from there.
Always Key Factors
Three ingredients that come into play every day will also help determine the success of your Experience Integration:
- Communication: The best friend a CX team can have is someone in marketing – both internal and external – who is a project champion. A single announcement or training document will yield predictable, and unfavorable, results. A comprehensive, broad-based communications plan will pay off in both the short and long term.
- Accountability: If the Experience Integration involves new processes for call center personnel, for example, those employees must be evaluated (at least in part) on whether they are following the new or altered procedures. Customer feedback must be analyzed to evaluate whether the changes are improving their experience with your organization.
- Information technology (IT): Few solutions today are able to be carried out without the participation of your technology experts. And you must remember that IT’s long list of organizational responsibilities may not match your specific priorities for this project. Develop a good relationship with your IT team – some companies have IT liaisons who work with different parts of the business on an ongoing basis – and keep them informed along way as integration draws near.
And while we noted earlier that focus areas or priorities should be limited, success metrics can and should be plentiful. Direct customer feedback might be one of the early success metrics, but it should be combined with other experience and operational data to present a wide-ranging overview of the overall Experience Integration.
One danger is putting an early end to a change that, in reality, requires additional time to fully analyze its impacts.
Making It Work
Experience Integration can be a grind. In the best scenario, both customers and employees will benefit. At times, however, customers may be the ones who gain while employee jobs and duties actually become more difficult.
Again, if previous stages of the XM Operating Framework have been executed well, you should have a clear idea of who will be impacted and how. If there is not clarity on potential impacts or accountability, make the necessary adjustments prior to launching the integration.
All football teams enter a new season with unbridled optimism that their work and preparation will pay off. You too should be encouraged after all the steps that have been taken to reach this point in advance of your Experience Integration.
Integrate … and succeed!