Customer Experience: The Tribe Has Spoken

Embedding a framework for Customer Experience within an organisation is a challenge like no other. It will require communication and influence, negotiation and control. It will require strategy and drive — without compromising on trust and transparency. It will be like climbing Mt. Everest or sailing the circumference of the earth. Basically, it’s a lot like playing Survivor.

To embed Customer Experience principles into your culture, you need to outwit, outplay and outlast your competitors. Those that stand above the others in Survivor play their game by five key principles. Following these will also certainly help you to develop your organisation’s Customer Experience Strategy.

1. Know How To Make Fire

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in the game of Survivor is that they aren’t prepared for the challenges that living on a desert island will present. Don’t let this happen to you when building your Customer Experience Strategy. The early stages of the game are when people are going to quickly evaluate whether what you are bringing to the table is well researched, informed and likely to provide ongoing value. Don’t be that guy standing confused while everyone screams, “you knew you were coming to a desert island for 39 days, and you didn’t learn how to make fire?”

Spend some time really getting to understand the landscape in which you are going to operate.

  • Just because you are in a position of influence, it doesn’t mean your strategy will go unquestioned.  Identify the key players within your organisation that will become advocates for your vision.
  • Do some historical research. Understand what has been tried before, what worked, what didn’t and why.
  • What are the quick win opportunities? What are your long term goals? How will you measure success?

2. Make Your Resources Last

In the game of Survivor those that are the loudest and proudest get a lot of airplay to start with, but they don’t have longevity. They get voted off the island, because no matter how loud that voice was to start with, everyone has stopped listening.

Customer Experience Strategy is something that everyone wants and everyone can get behind, but often you will have to win a few challenges before your vision is accepted.  Until this happens, the projects and initiatives that you’ve backed can fall flat and despite the fact that you know these initiatives should drive a culture change within your organisation, you find yourself pleading your case at tribal council yet again. Why? Because it’s often a case of too much, too soon.

So how should you navigate this?

Start with willingness to come up with some small initiatives that are low risk, with maximum reward. Form a customer advocacy team. Do more in-depth analysis on your company’s NPS. Give your frontline staff a forum to express their interpretation of the voice of the customer. Keep your ideas to a few, keep them focused, and don’t try and do too much at once. No one lasts long in Survivor if they’ve eaten all their food in the first three days.

Trying to change the world overnight won’t happen and it will quickly get your fellow tribe-mates offside. If you can get the right conversations happening around camp, you are already on your way to winning.

3. Keep Your Options Open

In order to last in Survivor you need to be able to forge strong relationships with a few, without antagonising the many. You never know when things are going to change and you need to be able to build relationships — no matter what external factors are influencing your environment.

The same can be said for your Customer Experience Strategy. While you wouldn’t expect to be “antagonising” anyone along the way, you will need to have a number of ideas in your back pocket, some of which may be more popular than others.

Just like strategies in the game of Survivor, the reasons why customers are engaging and their sentiment associated with that engagement can change incredibly quickly. You need to be agile enough that no matter what the new landscape and environment is, you can quickly build a new strategy or engage in a different way to move forward and remain relevant.

Do this well and your value will be quickly realised.

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4. Be Loyal to Your Core

Things are progressing, a few challenges have been won and your strength as tribe leader is going unquestioned.  Your value has been seen by your tribe-mates and people are starting to speak your language. Everything is looking like it is moving in the right direction and then — it happens. You are asked to back an initiative that you don’t agree with. You have two options:

  1. stand by your opinion and risk losing some influence with your tribe, or
  2. succumb to the pressure of the tribe who will praise your leadership and judgement, but label you a “flipper” behind your back

In the game of Customer Experience it is important to remember that ultimately the core alliance you hold is not with the other members of your tribe, it is with the customer themselves. Every decision you make and every idea you put forward must first be assessed by one simple question; “Does this truly positively impact the Customer Experience?” If the answer to that question is yes, then the next question becomes, “Does this also positively impact my tribe?”.

This game is all about trust, which is difficult to gain and easy to break. If you are seen to break this trust with your core alliance, don’t expect the rest of your tribe to be there to catch your fall when ultimately your customer calls you out.

5. One Tribe, One Voice

The day will come when you are no longer solely driving this strategy, but your tribe mates have become impassioned by your cause; you have made the merge and have started to really embed Customer Experience Strategy within the organisation.  A quick pat on the back and then it’s time to really start strategising, because this is a completely different type of survival.

Once your tribe is operating at this level the value that you will be providing your customers will go unquestioned. The decisions you make and the influence that Customer Experience Strategy holds within the organisation is much more apparent to the entire tribe. They can see the long term goals and they can see how their actions may directly impact the Customer Experience and the organisation’s overall performance.

How do you ensure that you are able to continually quantify the value that you have created? How do you ensure your tribe is open to new ideas and feedback from your customers?  It’s all about the foundations. You’ve gotten this far and whilst the game may be operating on a completely different set of rules in this new environment, the formula to succeed remains the same:

  1. Know How to Make Fire – evaluate your environment
  2. Make Your Resources Last – set achievable goals
  3. Keep Your Options Open – always be ready for change
  4. Be Loyal to Your Core – keep the customer at the core of your decision making
  5. One Tribe, One Voice – develop a unified approach.

Keep these principles in mind in the development of your Customer Experience Strategy. You’ll look back to discover that the tribe has spoken — and the voice of the customer is now unified with the voice of your company.

And when Customer Experience has become a key focus, you won’t need an immunity idol to stay in the game.


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