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Simple steps to conquer the most common hurdles witnessed by Customer Experience professionals.  Written by Nate Brown.

The finish line may still be miles away, but my first couple of years as a CX practitioner have provided an excellent training ground.  While collaborating with peers in the midst of our challenges, several common barriers to success were revealed.  With the help of considerable Googling and some wonderful mentors, I was able to overcome (or at least circumvent) these obstacles.  This guide will help you to identify the most predicable CX hurdles and offers helpful tips on how to gain victory over them!

HURDLE:  Survey Mentality


Many organizations are overly concerned with survey results as the only output of CX efforts.  Focus shifts away from the valuable feedback being received from customers, and instead becomes too much about response rates and survey scores.  A failure to collect many types of customer feedback can severely restrict the quality of information flowing into a CX program.

Common Symptoms:

  • ​Leadership is solely focused on NPS scores

  • Focus on survey response rates versus helping customers

  • Customer feedback provided outside of survey process is disregarded

Traditional surveys are dying very quickly.  This is largely due to decades of customers taking the time to fill out surveys and hearing nothing back.  Presently, most customers will offer feedback in an "unstructured" manner.  This includes verbatim and social media.  As a CX leader, you need to create a channel for effectively capturing this information and combining it with your survey data.  Additionally, it's critical to establish on emotional connection to the customer's journey and keep the efforts human-centric.

Additional Reading:

HURDLE:  Lack Of  A Customer-

Centric Culture


A CX leader could design the best program in the world, but without a customer-driven culture it's destined for failure.  This applies to all levels of the organization, not just Senior Leadership.  Improving the customer experience in a lasting way almost always comes down to culture change.  Many organizations give an impression of being customer-centric, but in reality are only posturing. 

Common Symptoms:

  • ​Most employees know very little about the customer journey and how they contribute to it

  • CX appears on posters and in company-wide meetings, but the customer is rarely considered in business decisions

It's essential to make the customer's journey real in your organization.  Until employees are close enough to customers to celebrate their successes as well as feel their pain, CX will fail to be a significant motivator.  Also, internal process must be designed so people can consistently do the right thing for their customers, and be rewarded for this behavior.  As Jeanne Bliss famously stated, "You must move beyond the customer manifesto and translate the commitment to actions that people understand and can emulate."

Additional Reading:

HURDLE: CX Is Not A Consistent



Nearly everyone gives lip-service to the concept of CX.  Very few truly understand whats required to improve the experience and actually make the long-term investment.  Many organizations will make CX a priority for a short time, but as soon as even minor difficulty arises the focus will shift back to other "more critical" priorities. 

Common Symptoms:

  • Leadership gives lip-service to Customer Experience, but does not back it up with meaningful action

  • "Survival mode" culture in which CX is a priority for a few weeks, up until a new fire pulls everyone's attention away

  • Focus is always on short-term revenue versus leveraging CX to build the bottom line over time

In order to make CX a lasting priority in the organization, there must be a clear association back to revenue.   It's Customer Experience that drives retention, expansion, and reputation to acquire new business.  Despite the massive amount of data and common sense validating these principles, business leaders are still so often tempted to take short cuts in pursuit of short-term financial targets.  Establishing a "CX Dashboard" will offer irrefutable evidence that good Customer Experience is the priority for any business concerned with making money.

Additional Reading:

HURDLE:  Not Seeing Results

Fast Enough


According to the CCO Council, the average tenor for a Chief Customer Officer is only 29 months.  There is a huge burden of responsibility placed on most CX leaders.  In many cases, they are expected to produce results almost overnight.  The temptation to skip timely foundational disciplines and jump right into making internal process changes is very real.  I (Nate) fell victim to this mentality when designing my first CX program.  Rather then saving time, I wasted almost a full year having not yet identified where the changes really needed to be made.  Impacting change through CX requires a great deal of patience for everyone involved.

Common Symptoms:

  • Pressure to start making internal process changes prematurely​

  • Culture of blaming CX for problems rather then working together for solutions

Customer Experience Management is not a sprint, it's a marathon.  Expectations need to be set with Senior Leadership even before moving into a CX role around realistic timelines.  It takes time to change culture, and CX changes are culture changes at their core.  Before one can jump into making any internal process adjustments, CX leaders must establish a "voice of the customer" engine to understand the customer's journey.  This is how the "moments of truth" are identified and baseline metrics are established.  Skipping these steps will not only have you guessing at where the changes will need to happen, but you will not have the data required to understand if your changes are having a positive or negative impact.

Additional Reading:

HURDLE: Lack Of Buy-In Across

The Organization


Many leaders have written about how critical it is to have Executive buy-in for CX success.  This is absolutely true.  What many fail to consider, however, are the multiple layers of buy-in required.  Middle managers and front-line employees are equally as important for lasting change to take root.  A "CX Change Coalition" should include members from all levels of the organization.

Common Symptoms:

  • Lots of "CX Chatter" but very little change in behaviors

  • CX is not a critical part of on-boarding new employees

  • General employee population is not an active part of CX strategy

We've discussed previously the importance of gaining Executive buy-in through placing CX in ROI terms.  The way you gain the support of the general employee population, however, will be much different.  Mid-level managers are often in survival mode, and having to eliminate all but the most essential priorities.  CX leaders need to demonstrate how customer experience management can make life easier for themselves and their teams.  By proactively resolving fires, you are putting time back in their pockets for more value-added activities.

Additional Reading:


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