CX Transformation

Putting the Customer First Internally Drives A Successful CX Program

A profession in Customer Experience is a selfless one. The focus of Customer Experience is the customer. To focus on anything else is to lose sight of the purpose of the profession. I understand companies are complicated, competitive, and political, but if they are customer focused it shouldn’t be as much of a struggle (but I understand it is).

One of the most difficult issues CX professionals encounter today is the reprioritization or inability for others to find value in a CX function. Numerous CX studies have stated anywhere from 75% to upwards of 90% of CX initiatives fail (CustomerThink article). One of the reasons for this? The lack of focus on the customer from those outside the CX function. This makes a CX functions job significantly more difficult.

If this sounds familiar, the first thing you will need to establish is buy in from other functions on the work you are doing. There are three ways to establish buy-in from other organizations and leadership which I have found work well:

1.    Tell them what they want to hear – CX programs can be disruptive. As a new function coming in and telling others what actions they need to take to improve the customer experience can be met with reluctancy and even hostility. One easy way to get buy-in is to tell teams what they want to hear. Give them positive feedback from their latest launch or project. This gets them to believe the data you are pitching. This won’t drive any CX improvements right away, but it will build a relationship. Start with the good news and save the bad news for when they have bought in on your work.

2.    Money talks – There are so many KPI’s that constantly float around CX programs. I have yet to find two companies that measure CX the same way. NPS, CSAT, CES, FCR, retention, loyalty, sentiment, etc. The list is never ending. There is one measurement that trumps them all: ROI. Attaching dollars to all the insights and actions you take speaks louder than any metric.

3.    Actions speak louder than words – One of the most crucial elements of a CX function is ensuring teams take action to improve the customer experience. Once teams start to take action, be sure to give them full credit for the win. Although CX may have found the insight, recommended the action, and quarterbacked the entire improvement, give credit to the team that did it. When word gets out that the CX team is making others look like Rockstar’s, others will want to work with you. However, you should understand that if you give other teams credit you will need sponsorship – even though you are driving action from behind the scenes, some leaders may look at your function and think you are not providing results. Be sure to have at least one executive sponsor who knows what you are really doing.

These are only a few ways of the ways to combat the problem of CX buy-in and you may find others that work well within your company. Understand that every company is unique with how it is organized, it’s culture, and who impacts the customer experience. Part of the job as a CX professional is learning what gets people truly focused on the customer.

Another major problem CX functions encounter is when a company says it is customer-focused, but in actuality, it is profit-driven. When this occurs, the customer is merely an afterthought. The Journal of Accounting and Economics* found an unnerving insight: ‘A majority of executives freely admit to sacrificing the future of their companies in order to meet the whims of the expected market.’ This makes sense, as shareholders usually hold executives accountable to short term gains quarter by quarter. However, as CX professionals, we know that a focus on the customer is not usually a short-term initiative. This helps to explain why CX programs struggle to be successful in companies that are solely focused on profits.

Now, I’m not saying a company should ignore profits altogether. That would be ignorant. What I am saying is that if a company has a sound business, and the right personnel and products, a focus on customer experience will easily generate the profits a company needs. Profits are a result of a customer-centric company that betters the experience people have with their brand.

Just recently, a handful of major businesses affirmed their commitment to customers over shareholders. This is a sign that some companies have leaders who are realizing there is a greater purpose to a company and that providing an excellent customer experience can and should be a major focus. I hope to see more companies prioritize the customer, but in the meantime, continue to be selfless and motivate anyone and everyone to put the customer first.

*Martin, Roger (2011) Fixing the Game, Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing

[Webinar] Building a Measurable CX Program

Webinar: Building a Measurable CX Program


Customer experience will surpass price and product as a key differentiator by 2020. Yet, despite businesses best efforts to prioritize CX over the last few years, only 30% of businesses today report that their CX programs produce tangible and measurable outcomes that affect the bottom line.

Christopher Stark launched the Voice of the Consumer Program at Nike in 2016. Since then, the company has generated millions in business improvements by connecting the insights gained from CX Analytics with stakeholders across the company who can affect change.

In this webinar Chris, now the VP of Solutions Engineering at Topbox, will describe how he built the program at Nike, structured his team, and how he broke down internal silos to turn customer experience insights into business results.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Why CX is failing and what to do about it
  • How to break down internal silos to affect change
  • How to report CX analytics to ensure company-wide adoption
  • How to produce measurable and tangible outcomes from key CX insights

Watch the Webinar


[Ebook] How to Build a CX Program and Transform your Business


How to Build a CX Program and Transform your Business


In a time where the customer experience separates the winners from the losers, CX must be a priority for ALL businesses. However, with the emergence of CX programs as a relatively new concept, it can be tough for CX leaders to even know where to begin.


In this ebook, we are giving you step-by-step guidance on how to build a rock-solid CX program that will fuel measurable revenue and affect organizational change.

You will learn:

  • How to begin and structure a CX program
  • Who should own the customer experience
  • How to manage CX data
  • How to work with the business to prioritize and buy-in to CX
  • How to analyze and report key customer insights and turn them into actions
  • How to track and measure CX program outcomes
  • How to make CX a part of your company culture

Download this paper and learn how to build a CX program and transform your business.

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Win at CX By Understanding Customer Cohorts

I recently had a client tell me that his company needs to do a better job of understanding the needs and expectations of different cohorts of customers. As he so astutely put it, “if a customer tells us he has a headache, we give him a pedicure because that’s what we’re currently offering. One size fits all”. We all inherently know that’s a bad CX strategy, but most companies are helpless to change. Why? Because it’s just too damn hard to get all the right data into one place to create cohorts of data and learn what’s different about them. And there are stark differences.

Let’s take a minute to understand the creation of cohorts before we talk about what can be learned. The first step in cohort-centric CX is establishing “who”. Most companies have mountains of information about their customers – demographic info, purchase information, contact history and more. It can be as simple as identifying subsets of customers in certain regions/markets, or who have bought a certain product, or even male/female. It can also be a group of customers who are seemingly affected by the same issue such as a billing error or a defective product. Start simple. Isolate enough customer interactions to have critical mass so that you can look for patterns. Once you have established those patterns, you can determine how to modify your approach to that specific cohort.

Identifying the patterns in behavior, friction points and needs of a cohort is the next step. Leveraging an omnichannel conversation analytics platform such as Topbox provides the ability to look across all customer communication channels simultaneously. That’s important because trying to look at each channel independently can be extremely difficult due to the nature of disparate data formats and analytic reports from individual platforms (call recording, social aggregator, chat, email, etc). There’s also the issue of data ownership and navigating the organizational silos to get access to the platforms and data. Good luck with that! All that said, once you have the data in one analytic platform and your cohorts created with simple queries, you can begin to leverage conversation analytics to look for trends and patterns.


Need help creating and scaling a CX program? Download our ebook to learn how to build a CX program from the ground up. 


Here’s a very simple example from the cable and broadband space. A basic gender query may show that females tend to focus more on price and customer service while males may focus more on data allotment, speed, and programming. With that info in hand, companies can steer telesales, cross-sales, promotions and retention offers in a general direction that may be more appealing than a one-size-fits-all approach. Even a modest improvement in performance in these areas can yield big results in new and retained revenue.

There are obviously many other great examples of cohort analysis and the application of the findings for business improvement. Expect some trial and error when doing the analysis, but more often than not the insights will begin to pile up. Then it’s a matter of prioritizing your team’s focus.



voice of the employee

Voice of the Employee: The Lifeline of your Customer Experience Program

Customer experience continues to be a growing need and focus for many companies. Rightfully so, as it leads to customer retention, acquisition, and engagement – three things every company loves to see. As it continues to grow, companies focus their efforts on finding ways to better understand their customers and how to deliver the best experiences to them; however, one area that often gets overlooked is how employees feel about the company.

Employees influence a significant portion of the customer experience. They not only engage with customers every day, but also represent the brand of your company. Therefore, how they personify your brand is just as important as how customers perceive it.

Employees can give insight into customers by providing info about:

  • How customers act in specific situations and environments
  • What customers love most about specific products, services, or your overall brand
  • Where the company can improve its customer experience

Analyzing employee and customer feedback simultaneously can help identify gaps in the customer experience. More often than not, the employee experience is directly tied to the customer experience.

For example, let’s say employees at a retail store feel they need a better way to announce in-store promotions. If customers are asking through various communication channels about what in-store promos are offered (i.e. social, chat, phone, in-person), then you can easily marry the two insights together to prioritize and improve the customer experience.

This same philosophy holds true at the corporate level. If employees don’t support a key initiative, strategy, or philosophy at a corporate level, they are less likely to embrace what the business stands for, which could ultimately damage brand equity.

When analyzing the voice of the employee, companies tend to fall short in execution. Most companies send out surveys which, when done right, can be extremely valuable; however, similar to customer surveys, employee surveys can be polarizing, inconsistent, and limiting.


Does your company rely solely on survey data to gauge the customer experience? Download our whitepaper to learn the difference between customer experience and customer feedback. 


It is understandable why companies use surveys – they are easy, cost-efficient, and have a significantly higher take rate with employees (100% if mandatory). Nevertheless, surveys can’t be the only source of employee feedback. Giving employees a forum to communicate their opinions, rather than asking them to answer a select set of questions, is much more valuable and will provide more candid feedback.

You may find these employee forums already exist on sites like Linkedin, Reddit, or Glassdoor. Because the data is so large and unstructured, companies don’t think to analyze it. That’s all changed thanks to the emergence of technologies like Topbox which allows companies to analyze unstructured voice and text data using NLP and AI technologies. Understanding your employees across any communication channel and comparing it to customers has never been easier.

Connecting the employee experience with the customer experience should be a key initiative for any company that prides themselves on CX. In KPMG’s 2018 US Customer Experience Excellence Analysis, they found that the employee experience precedes the customer experience and the top companies all had leading employee experiences.

Receiving feedback and insight from employees not only helps contribute to CX but also creates a more positive work environment where employees feel heard. If you are a CX professional looking for a way to improve your customer’s experiences, be sure to start by talking to the people you work with.


Shopping for a New Experience

Thanks to the realization that today’s consumers are more likely to buy a product or service because of an outstanding experience (instead of the price or product), more and more companies continue to focus their efforts on improving the customer experience. This CX focus originates from studies similar to the one PCW did last year, where they found that customers are willing to pay 16% more for a better experience. Depending on the industry, your customers may even be willing to spend more. Regardless, the premium customers are willing to spend on good experiences will continue to rise.

If companies are going to start focusing on bettering their experiences the same way they better their products, they need to start comparing themselves against every other company trying to make the best experience. How does your digital experience compare to that of Amazon or Home Depot? How does the service you receive from your financial institution compare to your doctor or personal trainer? Customers have started comparing all these services against one another because they expect them all to be the best.

Customers started expecting these experiences when technology enabled consumers to communicate with one another with ease. Seeing how other customers were treated through reviews, social media, blogs, forums, and the press, helped them prioritize who they want to do business with and what to expect. Customers now expect the same amazing experience that others have received. As a company, it is your job to not only know what those amazing experiences are but what about them drives loyalty.

With customers communicating through so many channels, it is imperative that you have a solution like Topbox that analyzes every type of interaction and provides a holistic, aggregated view. Without a complete view of all your customers and prospective customers voices, you run the risk of offering a disjointed and inconsistent experience. There are so many wonderful and unique experiences businesses have created for customers today, yet at the root of every great experience there are three basic elements:

  1. Convenience – The ease of finding products and services, as well as the speed it takes to buy and receive items, are significant drivers of convenience. Having the ability to navigate your brand with speed provides a convenient experience. Remember, the experience your company offers is being compared with every other company out there.
  2. Recognition – Whether a first time or lifetime customer, using information to recognize customers is crucial. Customers know how much or little they have engaged with your company and they expect you to know as well. Often times they even expect you to know more than what they have provided. Not recognizing your customers at the most basic business level is a missed opportunity. Make sure to always give a good first impression and award loyal customers. Sometimes awarding loyal customers can be the first impression for new customers!
  3. Enjoyment – This can be a byproduct of 1 and 2. Going above and beyond the basics of good customer experience by ensuring they have fun throughout the entire experience is key. Surprising customers with an appreciation or offering them unique gifts is always a fun way to ensure a good experience.

Customers are forcing companies to compete on experiences and as a business, you need to prioritize CX accordingly. The product is the destination, what customers want today is to be impressed by the journey. In the words of Carl Lewis, “It’s all about the journey, not the outcome”. The best companies know to focus on the journey.

Why Your Business Needs a CX Program

Why Your Business Needs a Voice of the Customer Program

And What To Look For In a Customer Experience Analytics Platform.


Your customers are generating mountains of data about their experience with your company every day, in the form of phone calls, chats, emails, web forms, product reviews, social media interactions, and surveys.How do you pull all that rich data together in a way that it can be analyzed as a unified whole – just like the customer experience it represents – and distribute your findings across the organization to those business units that can affect change?

Download this paper and learn how Customer Experience Analytics is helping businesses understand the voice of the customer and improve customer experience.

Get the Whitepaper


With CX, The Truth Hurts So Good

It’s a fact: your customers are telling you bad things about your brand, your company, and your products every single day.  You need to hear it straight… no chaser. You may not like what you hear.  Someone could essentially tell you that your baby is ugly.  It stings, and a normal human reaction is to start justifying or rationalizing what customers are saying as one-offs or anomalies.  Odds are they’re not. We’ve all seen the studies that suggest that for every customer who bothers to contact a company with a problem, there are 30 others who are having the same issue. That’s a lot of churn risk!

The din from the thousands (or millions) of interactions can become numbing, and that’s a very dangerous thing.  When you stop listening, it resonates with your customer base and their perception may be that you just don’t give a damn.

But here’s the thing… all those customers who are calling, chatting, emailing, and commenting about their issues?  They’re telling you the truth about their experiences with your company, and that’s a good thing. Improving CX is all about identifying friction points in the customer journey and taking action to fix them.

One of the problems that we see with some companies is “selective listening.” Topbox recently published a blog on this topic, discussing the perils of relying on NPS surveys.  To reiterate, many good survey scores originate from a contact center conversation that had to do with a broken customer experience. A good score, along with a kind comment about an agent, is often enough to satisfy an executive’s curiosity about CX.  However, a closer look (or listen) into the actual interaction often surface a true customer experience friction point.

Let’s say that the customer who contacted the company and took the survey had an issue with a defective product.  The agent provided a full refund which delighted the customer and resulted in a good survey.  Unfortunately, the actual friction point, the defective product, never bubbles up as a CX issue. There’s no telling how many other customers are having similar product issues because the organization is too busy high fiving about a positive survey.  Remember that 30:1 ratio? The number could be in the thousands.

The “truth” in that scenario is the defective product, and that’s where the focus needs to be for root cause identification and resolution.

A true omnichannel CX analytics platform like Topbox allows you to hear the truth from your customers. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but you CAN handle it. The alternative is to stick your head in the sand, and that can have an outcome that’s far worse.

Sweet Dreams, C-Suite

As the CEO of a tech startup, I’m no stranger to restless nights. Thoughts about growth, product changes, personnel, financials, and data security are all frequent visitors in the wee hours. However, there is no single thought that keeps me up at night more than customers. What do they think of our company? How much are they using our product? Do they get value from it? Will they renew? Would they recommend it? The number of customers we have to worry about pales in comparison to B2C companies with millions of customers. I can’t imagine how those C Suite executives get a wink of sleep.It’s terrifying to think how quickly customer perceptions of product issues, business support disruptions, and PR headaches can destroy the value of a brand.  We’ve all seen it, and it’s typically a problem that started small and was either not identified quickly enough, or dismissed by someone as minimally impactful.  Executives are left scratching their heads and asking themselves “how did we NOT see that coming?” These execs often rely on surveys and social media as their principal means of customer feedback, but there are inherent limitations in that line of thinking.Using an analogy from my days as a naval officer, what these execs need is a multi-layered defense system – one that can see inbound missiles far over the horizon, providing time for targeting and destruction.  While radar and satellite technology supply the blanket of security for the military, business executives have an opportunity to create a similar “early warning” system.Companies have spent millions providing – and monitoring – more communication channels for their customers.  While surveys and social media are two of those channels most companies find that their customers call, chat, email and SMS with far more frequency, and with significantly greater detail and context.  Moreover, customer preference and reason for contact will determine the channel of choice, so assuming that every issue will bubble to the surface in one or two specific channels is a critical mistake.  Every channel matters, and therefore each must be monitored consistently.Topbox is this early warning system for businesses.  We ingest customer interactions from any channel: phone, chat, email, SMS, in-app, surveys, product reviews, social media – all of it.  We then normalize the data, apply our classification model, and provide a comprehensive suite of interactive tools for analysis.  Catching customer experience issues early and with enough context allows our clients to react in a measured, thoughtful manner rather than panicking.The peace of mind that comes with Topbox may let those executives get a few more minutes of sleep!

Unite Your Business Silos Under the CX Flag

An article in Forbes regarding customer experience (or “CX”) trends for 2019 was recently published. One key statement rang true: “Bringing information together and making it actionable for key departments is crucial to CX.”

Simple as it was, it is one of the foundational elements of a CX program and why collecting information is so integral to companies today. Customer experience is one of the most popular business buzzwords right now, and going into 2019 it is a focus for every major business – and for good reason. According to the Customer Experience Impact Report, 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Unfortunately, outside of improving the customer experience, most companies don’t understand what the purpose of a CX function is. After all, it is an entirely new business function.


Need help creating and scaling a CX program? Download our ebook to learn how to build a CX program from the ground up. 


Many believe that similar to a Center of Excellence (COE), a CX team operates independently to ensure they aren’t disrupted in their pursuit for an optimal customer experience. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A CX team should be on the front lines with all the other business functions, leading the charge to a seamless and exceptional experience for customers.

Creating a seamless and exceptional customer experience can be difficult as businesses struggle to connect the silos that exist within the company. One of the reasons why silos are so prevalent in today’s business landscape is because of all the disparate data companies collect on customers. Each business function often has its own set of customer data that may differ from another function. These unique “sources of truth” can generate insightful information; however, they are only one piece of the experience, and if used independently can lead to a misinterpretation of the true customer experience.

The Customer Experience Abyss

In order to understand the purpose of a CX team and how one operates, you first need to understand how most businesses organize, manage, and carry out their customer experiences today. Essentially, a company’s customer experience is owned and managed by a handful of teams. This includes, but is not limited to, digital, brand, strategy, UX, retail, design, pricing, membership, logistics, marketing, and customer service. All of these teams have a hand in customer experience. In order to affirm that they are working towards a common goal, they communicate in a timely manner, meet and discuss upcoming initiatives and projects, and discuss results along with future objectives.

In a perfect world, every team has the time and passion to accomplish these things to ensure the customer experience is in sync with their work. In reality, teams end up scrambling for information and understanding of how each business function is impacting the customer experience, sometimes after it has already launched.

This process is extremely inefficient and can lead to serious problems across the customer experience. These problems can lead to irreparable financial losses. If business functions are not on the same page when launching an experience, it creates a broken one. Siloed teams create siloed experiences.

There are plenty of companies that operate in a semi-siloed manor and feel it is successful. What these companies don’t understand is that customer experience issues often occur between the ownership of these silos, in what I like to call the “customer experience abyss,” where no business function claims ownership. Customers react to these broken experiences by communicating their frustration through different communication channels, i.e. chats, surveys, reviews, calls, tweets, posts etc.

For example, if a company launches a new subscription service and customers are confused about the pricing model, is it the job of customer service to explain it to customers? What about those customers that don’t contact? Does marketing need to modify their campaigns? Maybe digital needs to edit the nomenclature online. It could be all of these things; the key is determining which one will solve the poor customer experience.

A mature CX team will listen to all customers using an omni-channel solution (like Topbox), gather insights, and present them back to the business. Topbox enables CX teams to identify where, what, and how the customer experience came to be what it is. Reading through the article I mentioned above, it is apparent that the author of the article clearly understands the purpose of a CX team. Like many others, however, the author may not know that a new, disruptive technology already exists to help companies solve the dilemma of aggregating customer information and presenting it in a way that is easy for the business to understand. Topbox not only empowers CX teams to better understand the customer experience, but the entire business as well.

Customer Centric and Business Focused

As important as the customer is, it should not be the only focus for a CX team. A CX team needs to build relationships and work with every business function that impacts the customer experience. Understanding what the company is focused on can help the CX team know what to be listening for, which in turn will give them the ability to empower the company with better insights. The CX team should be working with business functions to learn their roadmaps, initiatives, terminology, concerns, struggles, and expectations as they relate to the customer experience. This will help with identifying ways to improve the customer experience specifically within those functions.

Simply by understanding the mechanics and challenges of business functions across the organization, CX teams are uniting silos in order to be “better listeners” and approach the customer experience as a living relationship with the business. By listening to all customer conversations across communication channels, the CX team delivers a holistic view of the customer experience that is departmentally agnostic. Insights that come in through a channel that is owned by one business function might impact another, resulting in cross-departmental collaboration as that issue is addressed and resolution is confirmed via measurement against a baseline.

Businesses that have already invested in CX teams are finding that silos exist largely because each business function only has access to the data they have budgeted for themselves. They only see as much of the customer experience as “their” channels and “their” technology can see. Cross-channel CX Analytics platforms like Topbox are removing that obstacle and uniting the business around the thing that matters most: the customer.