In a recent post we discussed the four pillars of successful CX transformation. We explored the reasons why programmes will most likely fail if a business misfires on any one of these pillars: leadership, organisation-wide alignment, capability development and infrastructure. In this article we introduce a proven three-phased process to build and implement a roadmap for a customer-driven change strategy. We show how the four pillars are brought together and outline a sequence for deployment.

The change strategy roadmap

Phase one: Build the foundation

As you’ll note from the graphic below, the primary focus during the first phase is around alignment. This starts with aligning senior leadership around the strategic vision and plan. This requires leadership to have a clear understanding of where the business is today. And where they want to be in three to five years time. Leaders also need a clear line of sight on the changes needed. (We later walk you through a simple exercise to help you assess how your leadership aligns around CX).

The whole organisation then needs a communication and engagement plan. Clear, two-way communication that engages managers and employees at all levels, including an honest assessment of the benefits and what it means to your people, is probably the biggest single factor determining transformation success or failure. The strategy should continue through all three phases of the transformation effort.

This first phase is also the time to identify and take action around the ‘low hanging fruit’. These customer improvements are (often) well known in the business and easy to implement. Focusing on early wins builds momentum as people across the organisation see improvements being made, the benefits being measured and the impact being widely communicated.

Phase two: Develop company-wide capability

In phase two, while the alignment and communication efforts continue, the focus is on tackling some of the more difficult changes the organisation will have to make to transform its customer experience. This will involve the development of new product and service propositions across all channels and platforms, improvement in the processes and technologies that support customers and the development of new people capabilities. Establishing a customer champion network to build momentum and foster a continuous improvement culture is also an important element of this phase.

Phase two also sees the development of an integrated measurement framework. A framework which reflects the future and captures:

  • the causal relationships between improvements in the proposition, processes and people
  • the impact on the customer experience
  • the resulting impact on financial business results

Phase three: Embed and sustain change-driven performance

These improvement efforts continue to increase as you reach stage three. In this phase, the new way becomes business as usual. The new experience prioritises investment decisions. The experience is baked into the company’s customer research programme. Changes in performance management, recruitment and training reinforces behaviour and culture. Continuous improvement ensures that business processes support the new customer experience. A new scorecard tracks progress. The communications infrastructure continuously engages people company wide around progress and results.

A simple exercise

Leaders have to be clear and aligned as a group for a successful transformation. We thought it would be helpful to share a change strategy exercise that we walk clients through. The exercise helps achieve clarity and concensus around where their business is today. Where they want to be tomorrow. And what they need to change in order to get there.

Treacy and Wiersema in their important book, The Discipline of Market Leaders, point to three alternative strategies that companies can focus on – low prices, best products, customer experience. Making a choice between one of these does not imply that the other two don’t matter.

The exercise involves each person in an executive team scoring the organisation’s current (and future) state on a one to ten scale against each of the three value disciplines to create a triangle. (See examples below).

The value of this activity is in the discussion between the senior team. It will uncover the degree of alignment about where the business is now. The basis on which the company should seek to differentiate and the scale of the challenge is also clear.

Shaping a consistent change story

Moreover, this exercise is also helpful in shaping a change story. Leaders can use the story to align the organisation around the transformation goals. In our experience there is frequently a differing set of views between leaders, managers and employees. Many would have no idea what their company’s primary strategy is, let alone be able to tell the story of the company’s journey in a consistent and compelling way. In an era of the great resignation where employees are looking for more, a lack of clarity about what their company stands for and how they make a difference in their role represents a risk.