Three Legs of the Tripod — Tuesday CX Thoughts

We probably don’t think about it much, but the legs of a chair or table are very important. Without a doubt, you notice when the table has a little wobble that those legs are hitting the ground evenly. I’d even wager that – in most cases – it is the ground that is uneven and not the table legs. 

It can be very annoying and can make things a little precarious depending on what is on the table and the extent of the imbalanced legs. I’ve seen more than one drink spilled due to such situations. Sometimes you’re forced to solve for the imbalance. 

You might turn the table a little to find a level ground or break out your MacGyver skills and engineer a perfectly fitted wedge for that leg using a paper napkin. I have even just tried to cover it up using the weight on my elbow to hold the table in place.

Where a four-legged table must have that level flooring, there is a certain beauty in a tripod that has only three legs.  Geometrically speaking, on a flat plane, the 4-legged table needs to be balanced across six straight lines.

For a tripod, it is only three. However, as I mentioned above, it usually isn’t the legs that are a problem, it is usually the fact that those legs are not on an even plane. When they aren’t on an even plane, the tripod is much more adaptable. The legs can work independently and together for balance. 

There is a reason that we use tripods for cameras.

Okay Ken, but what does this has to do with CX?

Similarly, in business and customer experience, the metaphorical plane is rarely even. In fact, the plane is more like city streets cratered with potholes. 

Yet, if you have a tripod, you can find a way to balance everything to work together, with each leg independently also doing its job. What are the three legs of the customer experience tripod?  

1. Customer – this one you probably already expected. Having tools such as a CX enterprise software and understanding all the customer experience touchpoints is critical. Yet, without the customer, the business is not relevant.

Customers are the reason we define a customer experience strategy and map out the customer journey

While your customer experience software platform may have some flashy features such as customer feedback loop and sentiment analysis, you must also keep in mind that your customer does not just exist within your metaphorical tripod. They are the balancing leg to your competitors as well. They could easily leave you for the bigger, better deal at any point and your tripod could fall.

2. Employee – probably another one in your mind that you ‘already knew’.  We all recognize the importance of employee experience on its own and also within the customer experience framework. Without employees – both frontline and back-of-office, you have no means to execute against your customer journey map

Even if you are an automated solution, there are many individuals responsible for building, producing and distributing your product.  Even if they are outsourced, they still are part of this leg of the tripod. In my view, this leg is often overlooked, even by individuals responsible for the well-being of the employee. 

Don’t make the employee experience a “once a year” activity, but rather an ongoing activity.  If you have many employees, consider a  social media analysis to enhance the data you collect as you’ll hear more about culture online than you will from a survey.  If you are a B2B focused organization, your employees also represent your service offering to your customers.

3. Profit – in the leg that seems like it contradicts the other two, profit is just as critical as the other two legs of the tripod. If you cannot profitably serve the customer, you will not have a business.

A key reason for financial linkage analysis is to demonstrate that link, but I would have a concern with any company leader that does not already realize that these are connected with each other. The connection really should be at that next level, understanding the triggers that cause customer churn and developing strategies to improve those root causes of churn. 

Using our exclusive QuestionPro NPS+  you can understand those root causes of churn. However, that awareness is only part of the equation, you must build a strategy to meaningfully eliminate the concern – and do so without impacting the profit margins. That is why we offer Outer Loop as part of our QuestionPro CX platform.

All the legs are key – don’t miss any

You can build strategies while understanding efforts, impacts and outcomes – for all three legs of the tripod.   

Some would say a specific leg is the “most important” of the tripod.  However, there is the reality that if you take out any leg of the tripod, it falls. 

Without the customer, you will not have any revenue to pay employees and there will be no profit. Without internal/outsourced employees, you will have no meaningful way to manage or serve the customers. Finally, without profit, you will not be able to pay for the product or the employees that go to the customer.

While we often view these legs separately, it is critical to view the three legs of the CX tripod collectively, otherwise, our CX tripod will fall.

Looking to deliver an exceptional customer experience? As much as we love MacGyver, we don’t recommend that anyone hacks together a customer experience solution. The risk is too high and your business, customers and employees have so much to gain by using a purpose-built customer experience solution.