You Want to Justify a CX investment? Forget the Scorecards
Your CEO and leadership team don’t decide based on numbers
Heidi’s story is not just for children.
Heidi is close to the end of what she hopes is the best and most persuasive presentation she has made in her life. She is head of customer experience for a major Swiss bank and is in front of the leadership team in Zurich. Other than her manager’s manager, she has never met anyone in the room before.
She has spent two solid weeks doing nothing but preparing all of the data and resulting insights. They’re about the e-Banking platform that was launched 15 months earlier. Some of the conclusions are surprising, others less so.
She is about to show the slide with the top two customer improvement suggestions. It includes her request for two project managers and the time of three software people to address the suggestions. She also has a last slide comparing customer views of the bank’s offering with that of competitors.
Heidi is 35 minutes into her pitch and is feeling confident, though she has some minor doubts. She is surprised that the CEO allows his team to keep their PCs open during presentations. A couple of the attendees must have urgent messages that they have to answer. Though it has to be said that it looks like a travel website, the one that she can see in the mirror behind the VP of International Operations, Clara Schmidt.
And by coincidence it is Clara who decides to interrupt Heidi’s flow.
So, what does Clara have to say?
“Heidi, these are great scorecards. Thank you for doing all that great work.”
The look on Clara’s face does not reassure Heidi.
Clara continues. “I have been in seven different countries since the launch and I already know what we need to improve. I think everyone in the room already knows.”
Heidi wishes the floor would swallow her
Clara persists. “It’s simply that our customers don’t know that our platform exists. This is what I was talking about just before you came into the room. The full team agrees, and we have decided to spend $20 million on a campaign to promote awareness.”
Heidi starts to wonder why she – Heidi Gudrun Schmidt, beloved daughter of Ernst Friedelin Schmidt and Eva Maria Schmidt (née Catolini) – even exists.
More Clara: “Let’s stop the presentation here and move on to the next item. Heidi, thank you for your efforts today. Let’s talk again six months from now when your next scorecards are ready.”
Most of the others in the room nod their heads, agreeing with Clara.
Peter, the CEO, also agrees. “Yes, great work Heidi! We look forward to your next report. Now let’s move on to discuss the employee picnic.”
Yikes! Trying to smile, indeed, trying not to scream, Heidi picks up her papers and leaves the room.
What did the e-banking customers really want?
The answer to that question is on the next slide, the one that Heidi never gets to show.
Her scorecards are all about contact center performance, turnaround time on support emails, software download failures, and an extensive series on the survey methodology. Customers provided ratings and answered an open question on what should be improved. The top two customer improvement requests were somewhat related to each other.
Here is what Heidi’s text analytics software found across 20 countries and 11 languages, in priority sequence:
- Customers in Brazil, Argentina, the Philippines, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia all have major concerns about the security of their accounts. They are convinced that their data is not secure and are reluctant to transact online. Customers in each country mention TV documentaries and news items about e-banking systems being hacked. None of the comments suggest that their own accounts had been breached.
- More generally, and in every country, customers who replace their mobile phones discover that it is impossible to migrate the two-factor authentication app to their new phones. They have to rely on text messages for this process. Over a hundred customers say they are moving their accounts to competitors because of this flaw.
- Customers in all countries report occasional logon issues. Heidi has been able to trace a number of these back to the root causes.
- Customers provided a consistent set of improvement suggestions for the layout of the screens and printed reports. These suggestions are mainly to make them simpler, reducing clutter.
Of course, none of these points have anything to do with Clara’s input during Heidi’s presentation.
An entirely predictable communication disaster
We humans like to think we are rational. We like to think that we will take the time to understand what is happening, to carefully consider choices, and to decide. However, our brains do not work that way. As behavioral economics expert Dan Ariely puts it, we are “predictably irrational.”
The best way to describe our modes of thinking is in terms of what Nobel-winner Daniel Kahneman calls ‘System 1 and System 2’.
- System 1 is our intuitive way of thinking. We recognize patterns and jump to conclusions based on what we think we see. System 1 acts quickly. It was essential to early humans, so that they could react speedily to threats and so survive.
- System 2 is our rational thought mode. It considers all available information, weighs it, and draws a conclusion. System 2 is much slower than System 1. Primitive humans did not need to analyze precisely which species of panther was staring at them. They just needed to flee. System 1 was there for that.
- The most important point in Kahneman’s research and writing is that once System 1 has jumped to its conclusion, System 2 does not engage at all. System 2 is effortful and we, alas, are lazy.
Relevance to Heidi and to all customer experience professionals
Heidi, like most of us, most of the time, gave a pure System 2 presentation. She planned to do her big reveal after 35 minutes. Meanwhile, humans being human, her audience had decided the CX priorities after less than one minute.
Every further minute that Heidi spent without engaging their System 1 thinking just made things worse. Her audience locked their System 1 thoughts down, making them permanent.
We have seen this same behavior thousands of times. Indeed, we have made the same mistake ourselves over and over.
We mainly come from analytical or scientific backgrounds. We believe that our entirely rational arguments will win the day.
We have been so wrong.
You must hijack your audience’s System 1 from the start.
You want to persuade them to act in a particular way. You can’t achieve that goal unless you make it easy. System 1 is easy, System 2 is work.
If necessary, back up your intuitive, emotion-driven lead with data, when they are listening. Your job at that point is to persuade them to engage their System 2. Do it gently.
In Heidi’s case, an ideal opening to her presentation might have been a string of subtitled video clips or screen captures. They would be from the TV documentaries which had convinced many that e-banking was not secure and that phishing attacks were a real risk.
Heidi could have followed with a slide showing what happens when customers try to migrate the bank’s authentication app to a new phone.
An alternative to either of these would be a custom video featuring real customers talking about these two problems.
In our experience, getting the customer-centric perspective across to an audience visually, and as early as possible, always works. The reason is simple. Even if it shows the views of just a single customer, it is almost impossible for anyone in the room to say it should be ignored. They would seem stupid, or at least insensitive in doing so.
The key is to take control of System 1. Provide the conclusion you want people to jump to as quickly as you can. State it before your first content slide, if possible.
Don’t be crushed Heidi. Be conquering Heidi.
We will have a lot more to say about this topic in future articles.
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