Feb 13 Designing an Empathy-Building, Mind-Shifting CX Event

For organizations undergoing a customer-focused transformation, one of the most pressing challenges is affecting culture change. Over the years, we have learned that organization-wide CX events are an essential piece of the change management strategy. If executed well, they can galvanize and energize employees and stakeholders at all levels to work differently on behalf of their customers.

Having led the design and execution of multiple CX Days, we’ve gleaned a few secrets on what makes such a day successful. And while Global CX Day is one opportunity in the yearly calendar, the learnings we share below apply to any event that seeks to elevate and celebrate the importance of customer experience and activate cultural transformation across the enterprise.

Putting Customers at the Heart of Everything

No surprises here: CX Day should be all about the customer. What sets a good CX Day apart, however, is the execution. To build empathy with the customer’s experience, CX Day should accomplish two objectives simultaneously: event participants should feel something they haven’t felt before and learn something they didn’t know before. Therefore, CX Day shouldn’t just be about the easy wins and feel-good moments: it should also reveal a deeper understanding of the customer as a whole person: their beliefs, stated and unstated needs, motivations.

There are creative ways to educate and transform participants’ perceptions and experiences, such as building a listening station that features real customer service calls or an interactive journey map containing customer verbatims at each touchpoint. We’ve seen the power of designing more immersive installations. For example, we recently built a replica of a customer’s living room, leaving clues about her life and service interactions with our client in various elements of the room. Employees could interact with all the client’s content through the mail, voicemail, email, etc. We asked participants to piece together which major decision a customer was facing concerning our client’s service, and in the end, decide on their behalf how to handle it. Given the complexity of the resolution, the result showed an even split between two options, revealing that even employees with expertise had different opinions on which service level was the right choice for the customer.

Designing Elements of Surprise

For many organizations, becoming truly customer-focused requires a fundamental organization-wide mindset shift that is anything but business as usual. Therefore, CX Day should not feel like any corporate event. Instead, design it as a performative act: CX Day by itself can help activate a different way of thinking and inspire a different way of working.

First, don’t just highlight the outcomes of a particular CX improvement or project, but illuminate the path that it took the organization to get there. Was this a cross-functional effort? Was the team empowered to let experimentation and practice of testing and learning influence their work? Were they given some autonomy over decisions? What new tools and methods did they use? Sparking conversations about the process of accomplishing is just as, if not more, important than showcasing the outcome itself.

Secondly, CX Day doesn’t need to fall within the business-as-usual aesthetic of corporate events. What if you broke out of the mold and tried something different? Consider using different materials, such as cardboard or wood, and novel elements (i.e., neon signage) to create a space that invites play and experimentation by gently dialing down the polish of the traditional trade show aesthetic in favor of unexpected and playful elements, you signal that CX is a hands-on practice that is accessible to everyone.

Illuminating All Stakeholders in the CX Journey

Any CX event, and CX Day, in particular, is an excellent opportunity to rally your organization around one joint vision for your future customer experience. It’s also a chance to shine a light on all the different actors involved in delivering the experience. Don’t limit the definition of CX Day to employees but expand it to other stakeholders. What are the most valuable partnerships in your supply chain? Does your company have producers or agents in the field? Does your company have connections in the community? If you dig deep enough, you will find relationships everywhere, along with the people who think about making them better. Invite them to showcase their work on CX Day.

One company that we worked with had a charitable foundation whose staff radically rethought the foundation’s relationship with its grantees in a human-centered way. From empathy-building and deep listening to co-creation to testing and learning, the foundation deployed human-centered design practices in a way that was still new to many on the business side. On their CX Day, they were able to showcase their new grantee-driven process and share measurable results and improvements. The event made the ROI of a human-centered approach tangible to employees of the business side in an inspiring way while setting an organization-wide precedent for the power of working differently.

When executed well, CX events can affect culture change by celebrating wins, highlighting opportunities, and generating excitement around a new way of working. Are you ready to plan yours?

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