Finding your voice: Why communication in times of transformation matters now more than ever
In these unprecedented times, and as coronavirus prompts epic social and economic transformation, communication is more critical than ever. Not only what we communicate, but how we communicate can make the difference between understanding and chaos — between having our voices heard and being dismissed as “noise.”
And how we communicate customer experience (CX) findings is just as important, if not more so, than the results themselves. In fact, communicating those findings can be an essential component in driving change throughout your organization.
Below are some best practices to consider when communicating key CX insights to busy executives and stakeholders within your organization:
- Know your audience: There’s a substantial difference in the CX program results we share with executives versus middle managers versus individual contributors. Knowing your audience will allow you to develop material that is appropriate for each group, whether that’s high-level insights for executive stakeholders or in-depth results for product managers. The ability to telescope in and out, depending on questions asked, is an important skill when presenting results to diverse teams.
- Make content easy to read: When sharing written results, it’s important to remember that your readers are busy and in a hurry to finish consuming your document so they can move on to their next urgent task. Make your results easily digestible. Use bite-sized learnings in materials that are easily “skimmable” and include generous white space and bullet points. Don’t assume busy readers will invest their time to understand your message—spell it out.
- Include “read time” metrics: Have you ever started reading an article, only to wonder when it might end after investing significant time into something you thought would be a quick read? Including a “Read time” metric at the top of your article will allow readers to set appropriate expectations for how much time they should allocate to your insights. This article, for example, will take approximately 5 minutes to read. There are tools for quickly estimating read time, making this a simple addition to all your documents.
- Put essential findings at the beginning: If your busy executive team only has time to consume a single page of information, make sure it’s a crisp set of key findings at the top. Beginning your document with critical results and not burying them at the end can positively influence the readability and understanding of the information shared.
- Paint a picture: Consider yourself an “artist” with a blank canvas. Use callouts, highlights, and short explanations to “paint” a picture and illustrate what you’ve learned. Deconstruct your old format and reconstruct a new approach by removing tedious analysis, such as excessive quantitative data. Instead, include images and graphics that instantly tell a story to improve the readability and understanding of the information shared.
- Make next steps obvious: Don’t assume leaders will understand critical next steps – give them specific recommendations so they will know how to take action. If recurring issues continue to surface, look for root cause, and assign ownership to address discrete tasks. Consider setting up a “tiger team”—a group of specialists dedicated to a specific set of goals—for especially difficult or intransigent issues.
- Use executive dashboards to create engagement: Consider giving executives access to results dashboards where they can filter, search, and drill into specific segmentation, such as information broken out by NPS, persona, solution, and customer-owners. Text analytics, including break-outs by sentiment and word clouds, can pull readers into the research and create “stickiness” with your program. Dashboards can also spark interest in related research that will help further your organization’s understanding of customers. As you get to know the different ways your executives work and think, you’ll be better able to decide which executives to target for dashboard access, versus those that prefer delivery of high-level summaries.
- Encourage dashboards to monitor ongoing progress: Urge mid-level managers and individual contributors to utilize dashboards for continuous monitoring of target customer segments. This is especially important for transactional surveys, which may include ongoing feedback from a specific population, such as customers contacting a support center. This type of “experience” information can be married with internal “operational” data (“X+O”) to look for trends and patterns over time. Ongoing dashboard monitoring makes fast identification and remediation of root cause easier.
Adding context to CX findings
- Consider combining customer insights with market and competitive intelligence: Because customers don’t operate in a vacuum, linking customer experience data with other market forces (including market trends and competitive dynamics) can provide a more robust view of the global environment. Viewing customer feedback with the same lens as other external influences can help you develop a more holistic approach toward solving customer issues and ensuring customers remain committed to your brand, even and especially during periods of rapid technological disintermediation. When presented alongside CX results, market and competitive findings can provide powerful insights for deciding strategic direction.
- Align your reference program to CX efforts: Reference and advocacy programs can boost customer engagement by rewarding your most loyal customers and facilitating substantial engagement with your most valuable buyers. While not all organizations utilize reference and advocacy programs, incorporating learnings from these programs when sharing CX insights will point to key trends—and associated opportunities—for customer success.
Taking steps to ensure your delivery of CX results is on target will go a long way toward guaranteeing your results are read, understood, and actioned. A crisp delivery will also help to build engagement with your program to ensure long-term success.
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