When it comes to customer experience and customer service, one of the great traps many organizations face is simply trying to do too much at once.
In today’s constantly evolving, hyper-competitive marketplace, there’s always a shiny new approach, a better way to do things. You can always find something that the competition is doing better. You are always facing holes in your organization’s game that need to be repaired.
The list of ways to potentially improve your customer’s experience is endless.
As a result, organizations tend to gravitate towards two opposing extremes. Either, they try do too much at once, or they fall back on an all-or-nothing mentality.
If we can’t fix our customer experience the way we want, then we shouldn’t do anything at all. After all, why bother with half measures? We’ll get it done next year, when we have the budget, or the time, or Mercury is in retrograde.
Admittedly, the departments and organizations that fall back on this all-or-nothing idea are increasingly more rare, because in customer experience today, inaction is no longer an option.
In customer experience today, inaction is no longer an option.
The more common challenge organizational leaders face is trying to do everything, trying to fix all of their customer service issues either at once or as the next screaming problem crosses their desk. Customer service is a business of urgency and immediate problems, and these can often cause us to spread our focus too thin.
When the urgency to fix today’s problems meets the urge to improve every aspect of our experience, focus and performance suffer.
This dynamic is something I’ve experienced personally in my own business and life, having too many goals, too many things I want to accomplish, and trying — against the very obvious and immovable constraints of time and space — to accomplish them all.
As a strategy for performance, it is not an effective one.
Among bloggers and article writers, there is a popular goal focusing concept often referred to as Warren Buffet’s 5/25 rule (not named by him). The “rule” is based on the story of how Buffet was once helping his pilot with his goals. The pilot created a list of 25 goals, and Buffet had him choose his top five. The moral of the story was that the other twenty goals were not secondary priorities, as the pilot viewed them; to Buffet, those twenty remaining goals were the pilot’s “avoid at all costs” list, or a not to do list.
In today’s 24/7/365 tsunami of information and distraction, few things are as valuable as defined focus.
As Rose Hollister and Michael D. Watkins said in Too Many Projects, their piece for Harvard Business Review’s September-October 2018 issue:
If “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do,” as Michael Porter famously said in a seminal HBR article, then the essence of execution is truly not doing it.Rose Hollister and Michael D. Watkins
Customer experience is never all or nothing. There is always something to fix. The key to improvement is taking an 80/20 approach, figuring out the vital changes that will result in the greatest change in experience, for your customers, your employees, or if at all possible, both.
The distractions can be endless, and they can only be truly managed through laser focus on what you want to accomplish and iron discipline in ignoring those things that are not a priority.
For example, if you know there is no budget this year for new IT infrastructure, then say, “No,” to those IT vendor meetings, at least until the last quarter of the year.
In 2019, customer experience will continue to increase in strategic importance across a wide variety of industries. Meanwhile, many organizations, weary of potential economic headwinds, are likely to be tightening up budgets across the board.
Most will be forced to do more with less.
To win with customer experience this year, make sure your not to do list is as prominent and prioritized as your strategic goals.
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