Cross-functional leadership is a key factor in leading any customer experience program. This often means creating a team of leaders who regularly meet to discuss priorities, resources and accountabilities that drive CX forward.
These teams are sometimes called a CX Strategic Council, a CX Team, or something similar. But whatever you call yourselves, running effective meetings that keep the team engaged, excited, and working together is key to your success.
So how do you run better CX meetings?
1. Start with a CX Charter
Great CX meetings start with a solid foundation in the form of a CX Charter — a simple document that answers these six questions:
- What is Our CX Vision?
- What are Our CX Goals & Objectives?
- What are Our Roles & Responsibilities?
- How Can We Prioritize CX efforts?
- Who Needs to Know What We’re Doing? Who Needs to Approve?
- How Will This Team Work Together?
Want to build your CX Charter? Check out these resources:
- [Article] Create Your CX Charter with These 6 Questions
- [Video] Struggling to Manage CX? Try a CX Charter
- [Guidebook] Get the Free CX Charter Guidebook & Build Your CX Dream Team
2. Invite your team
Part of developing a CX Charter is identifying the right people to attend and engage at meetings. That means creating a CX Strategic Council with leaders who are essential to recognizing, identifying, and improving the right moments along the customer journey.
This might include collaboration with:
- Digital Marketing, or whoever is accountable for the digital experience for customers;
- Technology or IT leaders who oversee the backend processes and systems for the customer journey;
- Leaders from departments like Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Customer Success, who can both provide insights and address touchpoint improvements
- HR, Learning and Development, or Talent Management, who can both ensure the employee experience is representative of the customer experience and facilitate employee engagement strategies;
- And in some cases, it’s important to include Internal Communications to share and socialize what the team is doing throughout the organization.
Invite the teams and leaders you need based on your overall CX goals. Some involvement can be temporary, too, so look for ways to invite the necessary leaders as you address specific issues and improvements.
3. Create your agenda
I like to create a standard agenda, then customize for every meeting. These meetings are typically held on a regular basis, usually monthly.
A typical agenda will include:
- CX Mission and Goals
- Progress on CX Programs and Priorities
- Customer Feedback and Insights
- Innovations and Forecasting
- Next Actions and Accountabilities
Keep your Customer Experience Mission Statement top-of-mind by including this statement as part of the template for the meeting agenda.
If you don’t have a set Customer Experience Mission, don’t worry! We’ve got lots of resources for you:
- [Article] Why a CX Mission Statement Matters — And How to Create One
- [Video] You’re 5 Questions from a CX Mission Statement
- [Workbook] Get the Free CX Mission Statement Workbook & Define Your Organization’s Customer Experience Mission
Depending on the dynamic of your organization and team, you might include introductions, ice breakers, or other team-building activities upfront.
4. Start with a story
It’s very easy to have meetings like these descend into number narrations. What metric went up? What went down? And they quickly lose the humanity necessary to really stay focused on what it means to be customer-centric.
That’s why I like to ask one team member to start with a customer story. Ask them to share either a great one or a not-so-great one with lessons. The important questions to answer are these:
- Did we live up to our Customer Experience Mission? In what ways?
- Or…Did we fail to live up to our Customer Experience Mission? Why not?
I like to pass around the role of Storyteller to different team members each time. That means the team will hear different perspectives, different aspects of the customer journey, and learn and celebrate with leaders they might not work with ordinarily.
More quick tips to help add storytelling to your meetings:
- It helps to lead by example, so try to share your own stories when appropriate.
- Keep encouraging and enforcing the value of both kinds of customer stories, good and bad.
- Ask a designated storyteller for their story in advance. It won’t only help them to feel more prepared, but it’ll also allow you to coach them on how to tell the story in a way that’s effective and ties into overall CX goals.
A story brought to a meeting might sound like this:
“I want to tell you about how we didn’t live up to our CX mission of “the right product at the right time with the right attitude.”
“Our supplier missed a shipment date and we knew we wouldn’t be on time for Customer X. But we didn’t reach out to them proactively, so they had to hunt down the information from us after they didn’t receive the product on the day we promised. They’re a long-time customer and were really understanding, but according to our own processes, we definitely should have communicated proactively.
“Our team talked about it, and realized that a simple reminder for each customer’s delivery date one day in advance would help our team do that more consistently. We added the reminder into the CRM, and I also asked our team members to recommit to proactively alerting customers to any potential issues.
“And I sent Customer X a set of branded golf balls with a handwritten note, just to say thanks for your patience.”
The best part with stories is other leaders might hear things that could also apply to their teams. It’s a great opportunity to discuss what needs to happen, what didn’t happen, or what’s already happened to address issues.
5. Remind the team of overall goals and what priorities have already been set
These team meetings are also great to focus on overall strategy and goals. Review the CX Success Statement and any team-focused goals derived from that.
The meeting leader might review the organizational CX Success Statement, then invite one or two other leaders to contribute what they’re doing for their team.
For example, part of the overall success statement is focused on “improving our brand reputation, leading to more customer referrals.” The Customer Success leader probably has a goal to track referrals and overall customer sentiment.
Explore how that is going, discuss potential challenges, and discuss how the team goal drives the right efforts for the overall goals.
Focusing on one or two teams and sharing this way helps other leaders learn and focus on what they can do, too. It’s also a simple way to celebrate progress. After all, the overall success of the organizational goals is a lagging result. All the effort at the team level is what leads to the overall success of the organization. Celebrate the progress along the way to keep building momentum.
6. Set priorities by looking back, checking in, and forecasting
CX meetings require thinking about the past, present, and future of the customer experience program.
- What’s happened: What’s been achieved? What is already prioritized? Are we meeting accountabilities?
- What’s new: What is customer feedback telling us? Where do we need to act?
- What’s on the horizon: What is new in the marketplace, our customer’s ecosystem, or the customer journey overall?
Let’s walk through each step.
Most councils have a list of priorities around the customer journey, including what actions are required, who is responsible, and what the desired outcome is.
Run through that list with the council, discussing any roadblocks, questions or concerns to getting things done.
This is where having a top-notch project manager as part of the team can really help! Priorities must be centered on the CX Mission and highest organizational priorities. A project manager can help facilitate the back-and-forth of priorities changing and dependent efforts.
Review customer feedback and discuss any key customer experience metrics.
This is a good time to address processes around customer feedback, too.
For example, if Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a leading indicator for customer retention rates, following a process to address customer feedback from the passive or detractor segments should be a priority. If that process is not documented, creating a specific process around it should be a top priority.
Set “alerts” for those minor changes in metrics to watch in future sessions.
If customer satisfaction rate goes up or down slightly one month, it might not be meaningful. But if it continues to creep forward or backward, it could be something to analyze and look into root cause analysis.
Sometimes the team can be lulled into thinking those tiny shifts don’t add up to much. That might be true if it’s one month, but how do you know if you’re not paying attention?
Speaking of root cause analysis, these meetings are a good place to launch those evaluations and report back on results. The leaders in the room might not be the ones to conduct the root cause analysis, but it’s important to know who is accountable for the results to report back to the team.
Time to look ahead.
A good way to keep everyone engaged here is to ask a different person on the team to lead this part of the discussion each time.
Ask your teammates to focus on a single question, like “what are we hearing from customers about future concerns” or “what CX innovations have you seen as a customer” or even “how can we create an ideal customer journey for our customers in the next year or 5 years?”
When ideas surface that are exciting to most of the leaders in the group, they are worth exploring as part of your priorities.
7. Wrap Up
At the end of the meeting, take these steps to wrap up:
- Run through priorities again and discuss if there are additions or edits required, based on what was decided in the meeting.
- Review any expectations and accountabilities before the next meeting.
- Check in to make sure everyone departs with a clear understanding of the customer’s journey and their role in it.
Make your Customer Experience Team & CX Meetings More Effective
A team of dedicated leaders helping one another create a better experience for customers does a lot of good, and not just for customers.
It’s an opportunity for leaders from various parts of the organization to get to know each other and collaborate.
It’s also a way to create that consistent cadence of action and communication that leads to getting things done in the right ways.
Meetings are an investment of time and energy, and when they’re not meaningful and productive, it’s easy for teams to stop taking them seriously.
With that in mind, I’ll leave you with a reminder: These meetings are about more than just about meeting. They’re about action. Make your CX meetings worthwhile by taking the actions that drive CX forward because that’s what will result in better business outcomes.
That’s well worth the investment.