Today’s brands need to stand for something. They need to create customer journeys that engender the affinity and trust that can lead to customer love. Translating that aspiration into the ideal CX—an organization’s “North Star”—provides the direction that can differentiate its CX from that of its competitors. This vision also serves to rally the workforce around a set of common principles and goals that help drive the organization’s corporate culture.
Defining a North Star for CX is only the beginning. Activating that CX vision is something else entirely.
Francesco Lagutaine is Chief Marketing and Experience Design Officer at Manulife, a multinational insurance and financial services company headquartered in Toronto. Francesco, who is based out of Hong Kong, says Manulife’s CX vision has two dimensions. “We want most interactions to be as friction-free and intuitive as possible—except for those interactions that are the key, defining moments with us. Those should be meaningful and memorable.”
He describes how Manulife’s design-and-build approach for CX is based on this philosophy. “It means that we need to understand which interactions we want to make almost invisible to our customers. Think of regular payments. If the money can be transferred from the customer’s account to ours without inconvenience—that’s the target. But for claim interactions or onboarding, those moments should create great stories that customers will tell.”
Many companies see their digital transformation as an opportunity to enhance that human connection with their customers. Pulling this off requires an orchestrated customer-centric approach that employees throughout the enterprise can embrace, whether customer-facing or not. But it doesn’t stop there. Companies are turning to their ecosystems to support their current business models and platforms—or build new ones. Partners, vendors, and suppliers increasingly are playing integral roles in the ultimate experience customers have with a brand, even if customers are unaware of the ecosystem’s involvement.
Given this complexity, it’s important to broaden the aperture of experience strategy to design not only the experiences of customers, but also the enterprise experience. The enterprise experience takes a holistic view of the organization and the many different people—from employees to partners—whose own experiences ultimately shape the company’s CX.
But how do organizations communicate a North Star for CX, and is this being done effectively? To what extent is this vision integrated across the enterprise with other business strategies and priorities? What technologies do organizations employ to execute their vision? And how do companies stay focused on realizing that vision internally and across their ecosystems?
To find out, the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), in partnership with Oxford Economics, conducted a worldwide quantitative survey of 1,003 senior executives from multiple industries. Each of these executives is responsible for (or strongly influences) the brand vision for their organization’s North Star and how it is reflected in their CX and employees’ experiences.
Using classification analysis, we identified a group of organizations that are employing leading practices to help bring their CX North Star to life. Comprising a small subset of our survey sample, these Visionaries are also leaders in innovation and are winning financially.
To better understand the dynamics at play, we also conducted a series of in-depth, one-on-one qualitative interviews with other executives who are in the midst of actualizing their CX North Star across their organizations and ecosystems. We have highlighted five of these executives in this report. Their personal stories and insights about the positive approaches at their companies—along with examples from Visionaries—point to six winning practices other organizations can use to enhance their CX.
Meet the authorBilly Seabrook, Global Chief Design Officer, IBM iX
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Originally published 14 November 2019
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