08 Jun The Chief Customer Experience Officer’s Handbook
by Steven Keith
How to Reset the Customer Experience Function, the New Hardest Job
Most of the Customer Experience (CX) leaders we speak to say essentially the same things to us. “We have the plan, we know where we’re weakest, we know CX is critical BUT given our organization, we are having the hardest time prioritizing the right work, agreeing to it and getting it done in a supportive environment.”
“In CX, most leaders know what to do and why. Their primary challenge is knowing how to get it done with the resources at hand.”
The mirage that many all of us see (and believe) is that our customers are more patient and forgiving and waiting for us to hand them our company’s brilliant products and services. And that customer experience employees are just another cost center to pamper customers. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here’s the real scenario: your customers are now walking around with super computers in their pockets able to pull out precision comparison tools in a heartbeat to see and learn about new options that can solve their problems in new ways. And as time rolls past, those customers are building trust and favor with those companies that demonstrate that they understand them, can deliver maximum value to them and then get out of their way—until the next time they need something which you may or may not have successfully offered them in the past.
With this little dose of reality, your company’s new holy trinity is no longer product, sales and marketing.
“To stack the odds in favor of competing more successfully today a company’s new holy trinity is now a fully supported customer experience leader capable of executing the customer-centricity axis shift, CX-informed product innovation and insanely creative content marketing, all braided very tightly together.”
I’ll give you a few seconds to wipe the coffee you just spit all over the screen.
The CXO’s NUMBER ONE JOB is now figuring out how to engineer greater satisfaction into (and friction out of) your customer’s experience and grow aggregate CLV (customer lifetime value). Scaling this effort is tough for anyone, no matter your superpowers.
While many other smaller jobs roll up to that, figuring out how to prioritize and organize resources to to make more people happy and effective is the key. And by people, we mean ALL the people. customers, cohorts, segments, employees, teams, business units and executives. Effective CX leaders aren’t isolating focus on customers anymore. They’re balancing the responsibilities and opportunities of your organization’s value delivery ecosystem for an increasingly empowered and selective audience while the platforms they have to work with are in a constant state of hyper-dynamic evolution.
One of their most difficult ‘smaller’ jobs is to reach into the consciousness of their executives who need to see and understand new realms of building, packaging, merchandising and delivering value.
However, before they can get to the work in building an adequate platform, they’re typically consumed by demonstrating ROI, finding budget and convincing their colleagues of the criticality of this function. For the modern CXO, this is a necessity, yet to many, it probably feels like backsliding.
WE THINK ITS TIME FOR A RESET! It’s time to re-evaluate the position of CXO.
CXO Handbook Item One-Resetting Your CX Agenda
As a CXO, here is what a reset looks like:
- Deconstruct the CEO’s goals for your position. If your CEO doesn’t have line of sight to your position, you need to start there. Once you do, break the CEO’s goals into individual linear paths and chart what’s needed along each path in the first 100, 200, 300 days of the reset to exceed each goal. Pinpoint the most powerful milestones along each path.
- Set up ‘reset’ meetings with your lateral peers and colleagues first. Include the CFO, and the leadership for Sales, Marketing and Product/Service Development/Innovation. Determine their paths and objectives and how you can help inject customer-centricity deeper into what they’re trying to accomplish.
- Establish a deeper, more ‘microscopic’ respect for the culture of your organization. Especially in areas that most influence service and experience delivery. Pull in the head of HR and explain what you see their role to be. Find areas of common interest and help them see the value in their participation in customer centricity. The momentum and inertia that will make you successful are two sides of the same cultural coin, and as a CXO, part of your post-reset job ought to be ‘change agent.’ IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t ever call yourself a change agent. That moniker will work against you.
- Your first objective is to inspire. That means providing a goal worth changing for. Once you’ve done a goal reset, inject a heavy dose of “inspiration” into the fold.
- Set out to re-understand all the unwritten rules of your organization. In your first post-reset meetings with the teams, learn the answers to these most critical questions:
- What’s working? What’s not?
- Is the organization purpose-led? Is customer experience a part of the articulated purpose? If not, what will it take to make it so?
- Is your organization clear on one single definition of a positive customer experience?
- Is the CX function under-supported, why?
- What are the top three things that will unlock executive support?
- How will you know when the support you seek is happening or not happening?
- What do those, whose help you need, want from their jobs?
- Where are you most likely to hit internal resistance or friction?
- Is your organization pinhole focused on NPS, data/analytics, VOC; and if so, what will it take to adopt a broader and more holistic organizational view of CX?
- Is it clear what your leadership in CX will yield? Are expectations rationalized?
But in your reset meetings, also crack the cultural code:
- Who speaks up at meetings? What is driving their dialog?
- Who has the influence? How are they using it? Can it be re-directed to help fuel CX?
- What are the influencers primary needs and how can you serve them?
- What opportunities exist to collectivize the employees’ ambition under your leadership?
Never misread politeness for agreement in your meetings. Some of the best ideas bubble up from people’s frustrations and resistance. Learn to read the distinction in how people smile and say one thing and turn around and obstruct the next day. The CXO’s job is to find and act on these opportunities for delicate behavioral conversion. Seriously, one of your greatest feats will be to redirect dissension into collective ambition.
CXO Handbook Item Two-Resetting Your 100 DAY PLAN
- Meet and align with the head of Marketing.
- Meet and align with the head of Sales.
- Meet and align with the head of Operations.
- Meet and align with the CFO.
- Meet and align with the head of IT.
- Align with the company’s innovation teams and glue CX to innovation efforts.
- Ask to attend sales meetings with customers. Learn the major pain points for the sales force and articulate what a more cohesive CX capability can do to help them.
- Help illustrate how CX can be positioned to design a better product/service integration story.
- Rethink the way your organization is segmenting its customers through a CX lens.
- Think harder and differently about the the organization’s product/service “interface.” It’s where you are about to have the greatest impact.
- Figuring out the organizational landscape and what people need to drive the change you see necessary in achieving CX gains.
CXO Handbook Item Three-Resetting the CX NUCLEUS
As the head of Customer Experience, you will need to establish your organization’s vocabulary around customer experience vis a vis your particular industry. You’ll also need to make a strong case for ‘owning’ or leading the collaboration around three parts of the CX foundation with that industry knowledge.
- Own the cultural ‘axis shift’ toward customer experience
- Own the customer experience
- Own the product/service interface(s)
It’s not easy to do this. In fact, most of our clients believed that this was impossible. However, it’s the right way. In order for organizations to truly compete on the grounds of customer experience, they have to make significant changes. These are the changes that help powerful CX leaders, lead.
None of this means anything, however, if it doesn’t lead to action. In the first month after the reset, you have to forge specific organizational changes and new initiatives around the axis shift, the customer experience and the interface.
We suggest your first actions be more structural. With the goal to integrate customer data, brand, messaging/positioning, demand generation, customer experience, company culture, support functions and the marketing/sales interface. You have to create a new Customer Experience Supergroup. Invite all the leaders responsible for these efforts and collaboratively lay out your vision for how to reset CX inside your company with their support. (Full disclosure: this specific action constitutes a bulk of our consulting.)
CXO Handbook Item Four-Resetting FOCUS AREAS
Reorganize the CX Supergroup into four new areas:
- Feel-has responsibility for the internal and external brand experience, the design interface, and digital and offline customer experience delivery functions. Also responsible for employee engagement relative to supporting CX.
- Voice-manages all social/listening, VOC, contact center, editorial content and distribution channels affecting the customer’s experience.
- Activation-manages all content, loyalty/retention as well as interactions with real people.
- Measurement-manages the measurement of all internal and external performance. Manages all CRM data and analytics environments, measures everything you do and keeps your ideas, plans and actions accountable.
With these efforts you need to define a series of structural initiatives that begin to make an immediate impact.
CXO Handbook Item Five-Resetting STRUCTURAL INITIATIVES
- Create “Project ENGAGE” which includes a set of activities to increase employee engagement in the company culture.
- Collaborate with HR to produce a CX Shift book and a shareable video that answered the questions: Who is the customer we are serving? What do we do as an organization to show our value to our customer? How is our vision translated to the customer? How do we want our customers to experience and value our offering?
- Create “Project MAP” that pulls broad resources into thoroughly mapping the customer and employee journey.
- Create “Project CONDUCTOR” that evaluates all of the company’s marketing tools and company communications around customer experience, with the goal that they become more digital, global, reflect the evolution of your organization’s customer centric brand, and share valuable content.
- Create “Project SENSE” ties your vision and plans to outcomes. It is a new way to make CX and its relationship to marketing more accountable through strategic measurement. When something you do encounters friction or is perceived as wrong or a failure, this initiative will be your lifesaver.
CXO Handbook Item Six-Resetting CX’S PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT
Talk candidly with the CEO about precisely how she will judge your performance, and that of your team, in six and 12 months?
Recommend these eight metrics in the first year with an agreement to adjust, if necessary after year one. Your efforts as the CXO will yield:
- Increase (%) in geographical market share
- Increase (%) in mind share/ brand strength
- Increase (%) in qualified leads
- Decrease (%) in customer effort through transactions
- Increase (%) in social media traction
- Increase (%) in positive customer experiences/satisfaction
- Increase (%) in employee engagement momentum from a re-energized sales and marketing team, (via an employee survey).
- Increase (%) in perceived global cohesion, measured by your global peers.
- Increased ease of use through all sales interfaces. (measured by survey to customer segments and salespeople).
We know that some of this may be pie in the sky thinking to some—perhaps many. For others the time is now to re-evaluate the role of customer experience inside their organizations.
We feel there has never been a better time to stake bold (read: more extreme than feels comfortable) claims in the spirit of customer experience.
Up to this point, CX has always been “other.” Meaning that there has always been marketing and sales and operations and through those channels, organizations have struggled to push their offering into customer’s hands. Times have changed. It is now time for us to reconfigure ourselves, our focus, our teams, our processes and prepare for the eventuality that we need to change to address more complex customers under more complex conditions.
While the CX reset feels undoable, you’ll never know until you try. We know your job is hard as it is. But we also know if leading a company’s CX effort is going to this hard, you might as well stake the right claim. It’s a triple win and an opportunity of a lifetime.