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Avoid Bad HiPPO Directives With Insights and Prioritization

Ryan Hart
Principal Analyst
June 5, 2018

CX professionals often fall victim to the top-down HiPPO approach to prioritization; HiPPO being an acronym for the “highest-paid person’s opinion” — when priorities are set by the CEO or other senior management based on gut and experience rather than actual underlying data.

Case in point, Hilton Hotels’ digital team often received “suggestions” from executives around how it might improve the website, despite not having any data or customer feedback to support their decisions. In a similar example from Gaylord Hotels, the senior management was passionate about wanting to refurbish the wings of select hotels. The problem was that the hotel’s customer insights data clearly showed that a nicer hotel wing wasn’t an important driver for customer loyalty. The insights team found that, instead, “wayfinding” was a bigger source of detraction that undermined repeat stays. The hotelier ended up spending a lot less money to improve property wayfinding at its facilities and deliver a more significant positive impact to the customer than if it refurbished some hotel wings.

The strategist Michael Porter was credited with saying, “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Making decisions about what to do and what not to do requires data — specifically, customer insights data — to ensure that CX decisions have a high, positive impact on the customer and the business.

CX professionals equipped with customer insights data and a robust prioritization framework are empowered to challenge top-down directives and say no to projects that do not fit the predefined criteria when there is a strong case for another project that delivers higher impact to the customer and the business. In the Hilton example, it wasn’t until the CX team built a strong insights program that it was able to test (e.g., A/B-type testing) and validate whether those executive ideas had any merit (and, more often than not, they didn’t).

Take a look at our report, “Avoid These 14 CX Misconceptions,” to learn what else not to do.

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