As the leader of Ciena’s customer experience (CX) team, I spend my days making sure that the interactions we have with our customers isn’t just good, it creates a true competitive advantage.

My devotion to customer experience likely has a lot to do with my mother, who had a knack for making sure everyone she came in contact with walked away feeling valued.  

I recently had the honor and incredible opportunity to review and judge the top 10 finalists for the CXPA Innovation Awards.  These awards, established and presented by the CXPA, recognize global companies around the world whose efforts have significant positive effects on their organizations' endeavors to innovate and improve their customers' experiences.

So what did I walk away with other than “OMG these people are brilliant” ?

Simply summarized, my mom’s guiding principles continue to ring true: “Ce qui doit être fait mérite d’être bien fait” - “What needs to be done, deserves to be well done”!  

When it comes to meaningful impact on your customer experience, “well done” is the goal, but how do you achieve it? The 10 CXPA finalists provided me with five key learnings that I know mom would have approved of:

1)  Take the time it needs.  I like to get things done, but while it’s tempting to cut corners and jump to what you think is the fix, take the time to check-in with your customers.  The time investment you put in up front will guarantee your success.  Co-creation takes time, resources, courage, and requires an inherent belief that this will result in the betterment of your customers’ experience and your business.  

2)  Don’t go wide, go deep.  One company spent an entire year on Empathy!  AN ENTIRE YEAR!  Most of us put up some broad guiding principles, a rally cry and then sit back and hope for magic.  But people need to know what “good” looks like.  Having a precise year-long theme can drive laser focused cultural change and provides a deep understanding on how to apply those principles.

3) Be specific.  Challenging the norm and eliminating standard practice can be done swiftly when the organization understands the precise reason to think outside the box.

4) Get personal.  Designing an experience that feels personalized requires a better understanding of what drives each type of customer you are servicing and how they interact with your solutions within that context of the job they are trying to get done.  Focus on the “Who” and “Why” before the “What” and “How”.

5) Invest where it counts.  Meticulous focus on the digital experience can vastly improve the customer experience and your operational efficiency.  Not only will it improve your customers’ overall customer experience journey, it will empower you with the data your need to analyze, predict and guide both your customer and your business.

If you’d like to learn more about some of the wonderful CX programs and innovations created by these 10 CXPA finalists, you can find them here.

And yes Mom, I am finding many practical applications to your guiding principles!