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Annette Franz

Customer Care

Busywork vs. Real Work

The customer experience goes well beyond what happens in your department

Published: Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 12:31

Think about the things that you’re doing to transform your organization and your customer experience. Are you doing busywork, or are you doing real work?

Today’s article is inspired by this quote from Thomas Edison:

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment, and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Wow. Doesn’t that just describe what’s required to make some real improvements when it comes to customer experience transformation?

Dictionary.com defines “busywork” as “work assigned for the sake of looking or keeping busy.” YourDictionary.com defines it as “work or activity performed with the intention or result of occupying time and not necessarily to accomplish something productive.”

As customer experience (CX) professionals, we have no shortage of work. But are we spending time on things that matter? Or are we spinning our wheels, doing tactical things, and looking like we’re making improvements—when, in reality, we’re applying band-aids and simple fixes rather than making/doing meaningful overall process improvements and customer experience redesign work.

You might be doing busywork if you...
• Were moved into a CX role with no real, clear direction or support
• Were put into said CX role because “everyone does it” or “we know we need this”
• Think tactics only, not strategy
• Are not focused on customer outcomes
• Don’t make improvements based on what’s most important to your customers
• Don’t listen to customers
• Make decisions and improvements based on what you’ve been told is best for the company
• Don’t have executive commitment and support
• Haven’t assembled a cross-functional team to drive initiatives forward
• Are working in your silo without thinking about the holistic experience
• Haven’t defined and/or communicated your CX vision
• Haven’t outlined a roadmap for a change/change management plan
• Think you can do it alone 

If you’re working on building your business case to get executive commitment for your customer experience transformation, great, but if you’re only trying to fix things in your corner of the world, you’re doing CX busywork. Remember Edison’s words: “Seeming to do is not doing.” The customer experience goes well beyond what happens in your department, so while you’re fixing the experience for the customer in one area, that person is having a completely different, and perhaps disjointed, experience in another. Although it may feel like you’re doing something, making progress, and having an effect, you’re not. It’s not enough. The entire organization has to be in on it, starting with executive commitment and the shift to a customer-centric and customer-focused culture.

How do you make sure that you’re doing the right work and that you’re set up for success? Take a look at The 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience post I wrote earlier this year—make sure you’re not committing any of the sins I discussed.

“Being busy and being productive are two different things.”

First published Aug. 28, 2015, on the CX Journey blog.


About The Author

Annette Franz’s picture

Annette Franz

Annette Franz, CCXP is founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She’s got 25 years of experience in both helping companies understand their employees and customers and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience – so that, together, we can design a better experience for all constituents. She's an author (she wrote the book on customer understanding!), a speaker, and a customer experience thought leader and influencer. She serves as Vice Chairwoman on the Board of Directors of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and is an Advisory Board member for CX@Rutgers.