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What Makes a Successful Customer Experience Leader?

customer experience leader

I’ve been so fortunate to work with some really great people. Many of these were clients who were charged with leading customer experience change within large companies.

There are so many challenges in these positions.

In most cases, it’s new philosophy, limited staff and authority, and typically a culture straining against the wave of change that is required with a successful customer experience strategy. It also takes a bunch of traits that are often not found in one person. But here I go anyway…my thoughts on the traits a great customer experience leader needs to be, well, great.

1. Flexibility

If CX were an Olympic sport, it would be gymnastics. You have to be ready to adapt, stretch and jump. Seriously, one day you’re reviewing communications because the CEO realized they actually go to customers. The next you’re discussing why there was a 20% drop in online conversions.

customer experience leader

2. Business Acumen

If you don’t know your P from your L, or how to get smart about measuring not just transactions but overall implications, then someone else better. Numbers matter in customer experience, but how to change them matters more. This takes hard core review, critical thinking and game-changing action.

3. Instinct

This one is a little more difficult to judge or even describe. Instinct is what serves the leader who makes a call BEFORE the metrics show there’s a problem. Instinct helps you sniff out a problem to investigate.

4. Communication Prowess

Gathering the information is great, but it won’t do any good if it just sits with the Customer Experience team. Whatever information you gather has to be communicated in ways to make change. Not easy, folks. This is where the rubber meets the road. (And, in my experience, where many CX leaders and teams fail.)

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Numbers matter in #CX, but how to change them matters more.’ – @jeanniecw” quote=”‘Numbers matter in #CX, but how to change them matters more.’ – @jeanniecw”]

5. Empathy

Finally, it doesn’t make sense to have a leader focused on customers who can’t empathize with the center of that universe. Sometimes a leader has to listen carefully to what customers are trying to say – not what they’re reporting in a survey. Empathy helps the leader decide what actions to take.

There you have it. My short list of what it takes to be a successful Customer Experience leader. What would you add?


About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

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