When Brands Confuse Process with Outcomes
Confusing effort, preparation and performance with the outcome by Seth Godin
How’d you perform on the sales call?
It was great.
How do you know?
How did you play?
How do you know?
Actually, that’s selling your potential short.
Even if the chip shot went in the hole, it doesn’t mean you hit the ball properly. It might simply have been a positive variance. Next time, it could easily bounce the other way.
In order to improve our performance, we need to model our preparation, our effort and our form against a standard, not base it on the outcome. Because outcomes aren’t always guaranteed by our work. Just because you won doesn’t mean you did a good job (and vice versa).
There is no denying that the Customer Experience is today’s hot topic in business. In the so-called Age of the Consumer, investment by brands wanting to deliver excellent experiences is on the rise but may be misguided by trends that shout the loudest.
Despite a concentrated effort to provide its customers with the experience they desire, many businesses are struggling to keep pace with the rapidly changing expectations of their customers. Last year, the top three performers of KPMG Nunwood’s annual Customer Experience Excellence study made minimal year-on-year improvements, which suggests stagnation is rife among even the better brands out there.
How could it be that the leaders in CX strategies are experiencing such a sudden disconnect from their customers? The answer is likely to be just as much about the process as it is about the outcome.
As the old adage goes, you cannot improve your golf performance merely by studying your handicap. Knowing your level of play can be useful but doesn’t diagnose or define your strengths and weaknesses. In order to become a better golfer, you need to identify shortcomings and find ways to improve.
The same is true in all forms of business. Just because your product sold doesn’t mean your sales pitch is watertight. Many other variables may contribute to a one-off success (or lack thereof), but that is not indicative of needed consistency. Countless organisations are discovering this the hard way. Having been hamstrung for too long by the likes of the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the business equivalent of a golf handicap and its ilk, they are waking up to the need for something more insightful.
For years, NPS has appeared to provide businesses with a baseline for success; but even by its creator’s own admission, it was never supposed to fit that purpose. The decline in customer “satisfaction”, despite ample customer initiative efforts is owed entirely to an unbridled obsession with outcome over process.
The problem is that brands do not base their Customer Experience efforts on their customers’ expectations. Performance is measured by flimsy ‘scores’ that fail to pinpoint specific successes or failures, which makes long-term improvement an altogether daunting proposition. Moreover, surveys often lack context or a useful frame of reference; the result is the reader does not know if a score is “good” or “bad”.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Rather than rely on uninterpretable customer satisfaction scores, businesses must turn to new processes-ones which can consistently identify customer expectations (as voiced by the customer) and measure performance against those expectations. Multiple point scoring methods that for each expectation measure the customer’s view of ideal, actual, unacceptable and competitor performance. This method pinpoints the exact areas for improvement. Only then can you be sure that you have the knowledge you need to proceed with critical targeted improvements and a healthy long-term Customer Experience strategy. Industry leaders can also compare how well they perform compared to their competitors; now that is dynamite.
If you wish to discover how Promising Outcomes can help you implement a more successful CX strategy, contact us below for more information.