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Ashley Brucker Stepien

We’ve been running the Virtuous Cycle Diagnostic for over four months now, and the results of the various diagnostics have not gone the way I anticipated.

Let me explain…

First, what is the Virtuous Cycle Diagnostic? Essentially, it’s a unique and bite-sized strategy offering, where our best and brightest do a deep review in a short period of time on an organization’s Virtuous Cycle health — meaning, the health of their Customer Experience and Worker Experience. How is their relationship, and how do they impact one another? Without giving away too much of the secret sauce, we’re able to do this analysis over the course of one day, via digital surveys, analysis tools, and some blue-sky exercising. (Get more details here.)

Doing exercises like this for almost a decade, I thought I knew exactly what we’d get in terms of results — weak connections between customer and worker initiatives, clear front-runner pain points, and a lot of folks needing education on why the Virtuous Cycle is important.

And I did get a handful of that. But more interestingly, I also ran into a few unexpected concepts:

1. It seems like it’s an, “either this or that” war between Customer Experience and Worker Experience.

It’s always been clear that there are generally two sides of the house; back office (i.e., IT, HR, Finance) and front office (i.e., sales, marketing services). These two sides of the house clearly have different views/objectives from where they sit, but I’ve been pretty shocked with how little the two sides of the house share and communicate. We’re seeing a lot of under-the-radar tension between those more focused on Worker Experience and those more focused on Customer Experience. There is a real struggle to see how investing in one may benefit the other. A mentality of one being more important than the other — so that they’re actually at odds with one another — makes it appear that they are competing for a bigger budget.

2. Serious misunderstandings on the abilities of the technology stacks.

Aside from the fact that a technology’s name may yield certain bias (Salesforce and Workday to name a few), it’s been a consistent theme that organizations don’t see how their technologies serve both sides of the Virtuous Cycle. Salesforce in particular plays a huge role in the Worker Experience. Do you think your customers are the main beneficiaries of your lead management processes? Nope. While they benefit from the organization those processes provide, your workers are the ones living it day in, day out. So in that case, Salesforce plays a large role in Worker Experience and should be configured with the customers’ and workers’ needs in mind.

3. A lot of “I don’t know” answers about the Customer Experience.

When we received survey results, I was surprised at the number of “no response” we would get on questions related to the Customer Experience. Not too surprisingly, back-office roles typically didn’t have a lot of insight into the Customer Experience. But roles that arguably own the Customer Experience — like Marketing/Sales/Customer Service — did not actually have a ton of awareness on how the Customer Experience Lifecycle was being managed, much less on whether or not their customers enjoyed it. This has led me to believe that organizations are still not measuring or monitoring the Customer Experience, even though so many influencers are talking about how important it is.

Alas, there is a lot of work to be done in organizations as far as Customer and Worker Experiences are concerned. But my biggest takeaway in facilitating these exercises is that the challenges are more fundamental. They start by breaking down the silos between the back office and front office from a strategy/objective/technology perspective. The Diagnostic has been a supreme tool in helping my customers expose those gaps, their weaknesses, and the opportunities for transformation.

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