I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia. It’s a vibrant, beautiful, well set-out city where the locals will happily remind you of its status as the only capital in Australia settled by free people and not convicts.
My mum hosts walking tours around town on which she talks about Adelaide’s rich past. Being a history buff and having joined her on a few, I’m quite familiar with Adelaide’s unique background.
One of the more interesting facts about Adelaide is that the Act that created the city was informed by principles contained in a series of letters written to a local paper by Edward Gibbon Wakefield in the 1820’s.
In those letters, Wakefield outlined a system of colonisation that would overcome issues associated with managing the supply of land and labour in a new settlement. His nine principles included concentrated free settlement, sale of land at a sufficient price to deter labouring emigrants acquiring it immediately (thereby ensuring a sufficient supply of labour without convicts) and directing the income from land sales to supporting assisted emigration of labouring families.
His ‘manifesto’ for structuring a colony from a blank canvas (literally a greenfield site) got me to thinking: if I was structuring a CX program from scratch, what would be the major principles I’d use?
Here’s what I came up with:
1. Know your purpose
Know why you’re in business and what higher purpose you serve. What was the reason that the companies’ founder(s) created the firm to start with? Is that reason still relevant today? Connect to your customer base, employees, and other stakeholders by defining your mission, vision and values and communicating them widely.
2. Know your customers
The most successful companies in the world are built on an intimate understanding of their customers; their needs, motivations, behaviours, and preferences. What is your customer value proposition and how is it unique? Why do customers come, stay and leave? Run surveys, hold focus groups, watch customers use your products, create a Customer Advisory Board and mandate that all executives are to spend time talking to customers on a regular basis. Paraphrasing Sun Tzu: “to know your customer, you must become your customer”. Empathy is key to success!
3. Engage employees
Have you ever heard the saying “the internal experience determines the external experience”? Countless studies have shown that companies with disengaged workforces simply don’t cut it in the world of CX. Its why Sir Richard Branson puts staff ahead of customers on his list of priorities. So give employees the tools they need to do a good job. And on the subject of employees, don’t forget to look at your hiring and training practices, build a CX component into all employee job descriptions, align company rewards and recognise achievement of CX strategy goals.
4. Define your aspirational customer experience
The old saying goes that “if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll probably end up someplace else”. The experience you give customers is too important to leave to chance so define your aspirational customer experience as part of your CX strategy, sense check it with your customers, and then work towards making it a reality.
5. Understand your current customer experience across all channels and touchpoints
Once you know where you are going (your aspirational customer experience), you need to know where you are now. The best way to understand your current customer experience is through the process of mapping a customer journey. Develop a customer persona, select a discrete customer journey, list all the touchpoints that a customer has with you on that journey, then at each touchpoint determine what a customer is thinking, feeling and doing and how your organisation is impacting their emotions. Once completed, validate your theoretical map with other internal stakeholders before taking it to customers and validating it with them.
6. Embrace agility to execute change
Customer needs are evolving at an incredibly fast pace. Be prepared to take the front foot in ensuring your business understands changing customer needs, and can respond accordingly. And when executing new customer experiences, don’t let too much time lapse trying to create the “perfect” experience – be comfortable making small incremental, frequent changes as you move towards your aspirational experience.
7. Measure and communicate success
Successfully putting customers at the heart of the business requires stamina and support; stamina to continually drive change and the support of everyone in the business. No business transforms overnight – it happens in incremental steps. So as you deliver to the aspirational experience, ensure you have metrics in place that enable all stakeholders to understand the impact of your efforts, and communicate with customers, employees and other stakeholders regularly. And don’t forget to celebrate your wins along the way!
 The South Australia Act (1834)
 Wakefield was at the time locked up in Newgate Prison for kidnapping a fifteen-year-old girl. The irony that Australia’s only free settlement was devised by a convicted felon while in prison is not lost on me.
 The Art of War: “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy”.
This post first appeared on the ICMI blog in February, 2022. I started my career in my early 20’s working
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