Not knowing is a sign you’re doing CX right

In 2017, according to Forrester, 72% of firms see improving customer experience as their top priority, yet according to an Avaya report from Dec 2014, 81% of organisations have seen their Customer Experience Management initiatives fail.

Uncertainty ahead — can you handle it?

Why is customer experience so hard?

Because it reveals unseen problems, triggering anxiety for business leadership about their current business model. In turn, the pressure applied to teams for results creates a reflexive dependence on natural strengths; the teams prioritise proving present value at the expense of future learning.

In contrast, the most transformative change is delivered by teams with the courage ‘not-to-know’. A combination of confidence in their discipline and a conviction that new skills can be learned later grant the best teams courage to face the uncertainty of changing customer demands.

“The most transformative change is delivered by teams with the courage ‘not-to-know’.”

This ‘not knowing’ is counter-intuitive. It requires tolerance of the unexpected and the courage to address new challenges instead of the familiar. With leaders support, teams can step up and work out how to change a product with significant results in the fewest possible moves.

So how do you manage the uncertainty of not knowing?

By seeking ‘small data’ points based on experimentation. At Sky (where I used to work) we tested ideas with up to 200 people, analysing what drove customers to discard an installation CD or call Sky in frustration. For example, Sky Broadband customers attributed a lack of internet connection to Sky, but Broadband hadn’t been activated on their telephone line by their Telco. After witnessing the frustration this caused, we proposed an ‘activation date’ label on the outside of the Sky box, reducing inbound calls about internet activation by 24%.

In this one project for Sky Broadband, ‘not knowing’ took a budget of £120,000 and converted it into over £5 million of annual cost reductions, notwithstanding the untracked positive impact on customers. Here’s what that experience now looks like:

So if you want to build on the mindset, processes, and structures for commercial, product, design, engineering, and executive leaders to collaborate better around customer-driven change, I hope I’ve convinced you to challenge a reflex to shut down uncertainty and embrace ‘not knowing’ as part of your customer experience strategy.

I hope I’ve convinced you to challenge a reflex to shut down uncertainty and embrace ‘not knowing’ as part of your customer experience strategy.