Forrester, Oracle, and others predict plenty of customer experience challenges for the near future.
Anxiety is ramping up for senior leaders focused on customer experience, and it’s not difficult to understand why.
- According to Forrester’s 2020 Predictions, 1 in 4 customer experience professionals will lose their job this year.
- Several reports on the biggest CX Challenges (as ranked by CX professionals) include proving ROI and developing and maintaining executive-level CX understanding and commitment among their top three concerns.
- Only 30% of Sales leaders strongly agreed they can even measure customer experience improvements, in a study by Oracle in 2019.
So what’s a fearless CX champion like you to do? It’s time to build some bridges.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to begin at the beginning, build your case, and create a coalition of customer-focused leaders.
First, understand the true costs of NOT investing in customer experience.
Your leadership team and executives probably understand that it’s not acceptable to simply skip investing in sales, marketing or customer service.
There’s an understanding that while we make predictions about Return on Investment (ROI), we can’t always guarantee those returns.
Even if that advertising campaign didn’t generate quite as many leads as we wanted, we still invest in marketing strategy the following year. When sales numbers aren’t reached, there may be some adjustments, but we don’t announce that sales is a waste of time.
That’s because there’s an understanding of the cost of NOT investing in these areas.
CX should not be seen as a cost center. And the first thing to do is to understand what’s at risk without strategic investments.
- What would it cost to lose 10% of your customers?
- What would it mean if 4 out of 5 customers generated negative word-of-mouth for your brand?
Look for ways to connect those dots first. That’s the risk you take if you don’t invest. That’s the cost of not considering customer experience in a full and integrated way with the strategy of your organization.
Next, understand the baseline.
How will you measure success? If Net Promoter Score (NPS) is your metric, then get to know where you stand and where you’ve been.
Just starting out? That’s ok, but you need to get to a baseline understanding of how your success will be measured.
Of course, it’s not just one metric. It’s a combination of metrics, measurements and moments.
Start by painting the picture of where you want to go. Then ensure you understand today’s reality with the right baseline metrics, along with journey maps, ongoing customer feedback mechanisms, and more.
You have to start somewhere, so be sure you really understand where you’re starting.
Seek out partnership opportunities.
Customer experience success only comes with cohesive and consistent efforts from leaders throughout the organization.
How can you partner with your marketing team on a customer-centric initiative? Can you share your baselines, journey maps and specific customer insights with the CIO to help with her digital transformation plans?
Leaders want to lead, so help them do that and they will understand the value that you and your CX focus bring.
Communicate. Then Communicate Again. Then Simplify. Then Repeat.
Yes, it can feel like you are shouting about customers over and over again.
But true alliance around customer experience comes from deep understanding. This means sharing the metrics that matter in a regular, compelling and concise way.
- Tell a story about why that number went up or down.
- Relate the vision for how to change things for the better.
- Invest in storytelling and communication.
- Follow up and find out what leaders feel like they don’t know.
- Ask them if they need different information to lead their teams better.
- Communicate and then apply a closed-loop feedback cycle to ensure your actions are delivering what the audience needs.
Then do it all over again.
Reward Executive Ambassadors.
There may be a few leaders who already get it and you don’t need to earn their buy-in. They might even help you share the monthly updates and ask for guidance on how to hire more customer-centric team members.
Reward those executives in some meaningful way.
If there is a company-wide kudos program, lavish them with recognition. Or take them to lunch and listen to their ideas. That is sometimes enough to keep an ambassador engaged.
Build a coalition with these leaders and look for ways to support their top business initiatives with strong customer experience practices.
Bring It All Back to the Mission.
It’s hard to measure success if it’s not defined.
If you don’t have a clear idea of your Customer Experience Mission, now’s a good time to spend some time defining it. Ask for support and consensus as you paint the picture of what an ideal customer experience should look like.
Celebrate the milestones, successes, and stories.
Leaders are busy, and they might not spend the time you’d like poring over your latest CRM report or NPS dashboard.
Help them by highlighting one thing on a regular basis. If your reports go out monthly, then whoop it up one month over a milestone like completing a long-awaited experience improvement. Another month, mention not just the fact of a better customer experience metric, but the WHY behind it.
These sound-byte successes can help everyone connect the dots between the actions you are taking around CX and the results the business gains.
CX is a Uniquely Positive Idea… Be a Uniquely Positive Leader!
Be the kind of leader who brings optimism to other leaders.
While other executives might be battling over their fiefdoms, CX leaders must build the bridges over their moats.
Staying positive about what can happen instead of focusing on what can’t happen is an act of courage in some cultures. It’s way too easy to complain about customers, our lack of data/too much data, the way the other leaders keep information from us/share too much responsibility…you get the idea.
Customer experience is really, at its core, a uniquely positive idea. It’s about putting our faith in people. If we and others work hard to create successful, easy, joyful experiences for our customers, they will repay us with loyalty, increased sales, and even their advocacy.
What a gift! Let’s do our best to be the one who enters the room and helps other leaders see their vital role in this wonderfully positive work.