9 Characteristics of a Successful CX Engagement
Transformation — as in the change efforts companies need to make to help cope with ever evolving and increasingly challenging environments — requires a focused and decisive effort that includes a strong focus on incremental change and a fair amount of self-discipline. In the words of John P Kotter, a leader in change management from whom this article draws much inspiration "Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result.” He goes on to say that "A second very general lesson is that critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard won gains.”
When Blue Water + Missionside (BW+M), looks at our clients and other beacon organizations that have successfully adopted and implemented a customer experience (CX) strategy, they are driven by an overarching organizational commitment to change. We recognize that if we do not win the broad organization’s hearts and minds, we will continuously fight against old norms. Ultimately, a successful CX strategy and implementation is a change management undertaking.
Whether our clients are tackling digital transformation, standing up a marketing campaign, building digital products, enabling contact center solutions, or defining broad strategic omnichannel engagements, we take an approach built on change management principles. Our approach leverages ideas developed by John Kotter, HBR and our own experience managing strategic programs within an agile framework. The following nine characteristics of our approach are not only recommended but critical for lasting success:
ONE: A sense of urgency. A sense of urgency around implementing a CX strategy is critical and typically driven by understanding the challenges and clearly expected outcomes. Our client’s leaders need to embrace CX design ideas and help drive the importance of embracing the coming change within the organization.
TWO: A Supporting Coalition. Whatever the engagement, organizational buy-in is key to success. As most BW+M engagements touch almost every aspect of the organization, getting buy-in from key stakeholders who influence other parts of the organization will significantly improve overall outcomes and delivery speed. Building these relationships requires leaders to reach across business units and build relationships that will influence a successful outcome.
THREE: A clear vision. Having a clear CX vision, like the one we produce during our initial work with clients, is critical to generate support and get the broader organization excited about the future. A strong vision helps your organization understand why you are undertaking this project, the benefits it will provide, and concrete examples of what to expect. The vision becomes a critical tool to communicate with your coalition and the broader organization. It also provides guardrails that help everyone understand what you are doing (and what you are not doing) — a North star.
FOUR: Authority to act. Our clients with the responsibility to successfully implement a CX strategy must be empowered to enact change, clear barriers, make decisions and in some cases, force the organization to take a leap of faith. One of the most common reasons these types of initiatives fail is that the team is not empowered, resulting in disappointing and inconsistent outcomes.
FIVE: Be agile. Taking an agile, iterative approach is essential to delivering change. It is much easier to manage risk and get organizational buy-in by taking a steady and systematic approach to delivering smaller incremental changes (and wins) than the big-bang implementations that inevitably end in missed expectations. Delivering small wins helps build confidence in the overall project. Every aspect of our work embraces agile, allowing us to deliver steady and consistent progress. Agile is so vital to our organization that we've committed to having every person SCRUM certified.
SIX: Transparency. Transparency is the foundation of the successful relationship, whether it is the relationship between our clients and their stakeholders or between our clients and their BW+M team. We strive to build relationships with our clients, where we can be candid and direct with each other. This approach helps avoid miscommunications and keeps the team focused on delivering consistent results.
SEVEN: Collaboration. Implementing a success strategy is built on a series of choices that significantly impact your organization and mission. Working collaboratively allows us to make choices together. Ultimately you will always know your mission better than we do, and while working collaboratively, we ensure that the choices we implement reflect that knowledge. BW+M is committed to working with clients in a collaborative, agile way through our interactions, process, and supporting tools.
EIGHT: Responsiveness. Aligned with driving a sense of urgency, our clients and the BW+M team must be responsive to each other. This commitment ensures that we stay on schedule, maintain momentum, and guarantee the best use of your investment.
NINE: Creativity. Creativity underpins everything we do at BW+M. Creativity goes beyond just the user experience and visual design. It extends to how we address challenges that we must solve together. A creative outlook from both you and the BW+M team means being open to experimenting with novel ways to solve problems, prototyping, and testing ideas.
If you are undertaking a CX initiative, reach out to us and find out how the BW+M approach can ensure that, as a client, you have the support to uncover insights, design a compelling vision, and successfully execute your customer experience initiative.
Blue Water + Missionside is a full lifecycle customer experience agency working for organizations across all communication points, combining human touch with digital expertise to create outcomes that matter. By delivering high-touch solutions that span marketing, technology and human interactions – through leveraging data and embracing technology – Blue Water + Missionside generates transformational customer experiences that ensure companies own the high-expectation, high attention moments from which a truly human experiences can emerge.
When not developing solutions that help clients find smarter ways to engage with their users, Todd Coen serves as the Managing Director of DC experience agency Blue Water + Missionside.