Issue 35 | October/November 2020

I recall sitting at the back of a conference room as an organization launched its customer experience initiative. (This was before COVID-19 shut down in-person events.) Two presenters who were helping to drive the initiative presented a 75-minute overview. They covered, in 30 to 40 slides, the highpoints of plans. They used initialisms and acronyms such as CX, NPS, and CSAT. They discussed surveys and response rates. They showed charts and graphs. And more charts and more graphs.

After the presentation wrapped up, attendees began filing out of the room. Being in the back, I was first out the door. Two people behind me were heading for a coffee station. “Did you get all of that?” one asked the other. “Not much” was the reply. “And we’re up to our eyeballs in work; I hope this doesn’t add much…” The conversation trailed away as they headed in the other direction.

Can you picture Richard Branson dreaming of a high NPS (net promoter score) when launching the Virgin Group? Did you ever hear Elon Musk touting CES (customer effort score) as the motivation behind new products? Or Mother Theresa discussing her work in terms of CSAT (customer satisfaction)? The right metrics are important, for sure. But vision they aren’t.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Warm Regards,

Brad Cleveland

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The following is an excerpt from the book, Leading the Customer Experience, by Brad Cleveland, which will be available May 2021.

A clear customer experience vision, well-communicated and continually reinforced, is essential to engaging your employees, aligning objectives, and driving action. Vision can take many forms, including a vision statement, a mission statement, a set of values, or some overarching principles or standards. Don’t worry about a specific formula or label for your vision.

I keep running into colleagues who are fans of eyewear retailer Warby Parker. (Caution: CX reports take a toll on eyes.) Warby Parker is renowned for exceptional customer experience design. Their mission is simple and compelling: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.”

One colleague describes her recent experience this way: When I arrive, there’s no wait (easy) for a friendly sales advisor to provide expert recommendations (good-looking, happy). I’m not ready to buy yet, but my advisor informs me my favorites will be emailed to me, along with a virtual try-on app, in case I want to “try on” any more styles without coming to the store (easy). The app will even make suggestions (good-looking)! I stroll through the mall to a competitor and I’m thrilled with the price difference (money in your pocket). Maybe I’ll buy two pairone for business, and one for weekends (fun)!

Here are some other examples of vision. USAA, the highly rated insurance and financial company, operates around four core values (summarized in just four words): Service. Loyalty. Honesty. Integrity.

Together, they are simple, clear and inspiring. And they pack a punch because at USAA, they discuss and include them in any decision. That makes a real difference.

REI is a provider of outdoor equipment and services, and I love their mission, which also serves as their vision for customer experience: “We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” As you might imagine, that gives their newest employees a good sense of what to do (and the inspiration to do it!).

And it’s not just private companies having all the fun. Services Australia, the service arm of the federal government, is simplifying and improving services around this vision: “Government that is simple, smart and personalized.” It’s a bold, ongoing initiative that is already showing strong results. I’m also seeing Service BC (British Columbia, Canada), the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and others within government strongly focus on shaping experiences that meet the evolving needs of their communities.

How does Warby Parker, USAA, REI, Australia, or any successful organization know the experiences their customers want? They listen to and stive to understand them. They observe their behavior. And they build that insight into their vision, customer experience design and delivery, and success metrics. They inspire their employees to help make the vision a reality.

High-level goals

With vision in hand, you’re ready to develop the guideposts you’ll use to make sure you and your team are headed in the right direction. Your goals describe what you hope to accomplish.

Business goals justify your CX initiative. In most organizations, CX investments are based on the belief (and backed by research) that organizations who adopt CX principles earn increased loyalty and improve their financial position. That’s why the business KPIs used to measure the impact of a CX program will look familiar. They are most likely the metrics you use to measure organizational health now, based on your industry, maturity, and other factors. Examples include: decrease annual customer churn, increase revenue, boost customer lifetime value, improve market share, and others.

Customer experience goals are objectives you’ll use to measure the success of your CX efforts. These may be department specific, and some may reflect what actually happens—wait times, average order value, and others. Some gauge perceptions—customer satisfaction scores or how easy they felt the experience was. And some will follow outcomes, such as net promoter score (NPS), repeat business, or cancellations. More organizations are also prominently including employee experience in their key goals.

If you’re just beginning your CX journey, don’t overwhelm your efforts with too many goals and metrics. A compelling vision and a few high-level goals are what you need to get the wheels turning.

Recent Issues

In a survey of 330 companies in North America and Europe, 57% said their entire business model needed to be reconsidered in the wake of COVID-19. (Source: Futurum Research)

32% of customers will leave a brand they love after a single bad experience. (Source: PwC)

Customer expectations for personalized experience:

  • 2013—4%
  • 2020—88%
(Source: Walker)

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*Brad delivers private keynotes, workshops, and executive briefings to organizations and associations. For more information, contact

Brad has devoted his career to maximizing the value of customer-facing services. As a speaker, consultant, entrepreneur, executive, and president/CEO, he has seen change from many perspectives and has a deep understanding of the critical importance of customer service delivery to an organization's success. He has worked across 45 states and in 60 countries, and has been privileged to assist in the evolution of service delivery for clients such as American Express, Apple, Coca-Cola, USAA, and others, as well as for governments across the globe. Brad serves as a senior advisor to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), and is an in-demand speaker and consultant.

To inquire about consulting or speaking, connect through any of the channels below.

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