Cross-Functional CX: How to Make Customer Experience Work Across your Organization

by Jeannie Walters

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Is your team an “organization within an organization?”

I recently had an eye-opening conversation with someone whose company was struggling to gain traction in customer experience.

When describing their setup, she referred to her team as “an organization within the organization.”

Now, I’m realistic and understand that we all need to split work up across divisions, departments, product verticals, and the like. But as isolation from other teams and departments increases, so does the degree of difficulty in improving and managing the customer experience.

When each individual feels responsible only to those within their “mini-organization,” everyone suffers: those tasked with improving CX, the organization as a whole, and the customer.

We need to talk.

Specifically, we need to communicate across our silos about customer experience so that everyone feels invested and has the contextual information they need to affect the customer experience – whether they’re interacting with the customer directly or not.

To succeed, customer experience must:

  1. Be clearly defined and communicated across the organization
  2. Link to key goals across departments and levels
  3. Have stakeholders from across the organization
  4. Be regularly acted upon and managed

Let’s look at four steps you can take to get these items up to speed in your organization, along with additional tools and resources to support you along the way.

Four Steps to make CX work across your organization

Step 1. Define what CX means to your whole organization, then communicate it to all

Magical experiences aren’t magical at all. They’re missions. And every mission needs to be clearly defined and communicated.

A Customer Experience Mission is a guiding statement for your organization around what the experience should be for each customer, every time. 

It provides a consistent purpose around what the experience should be to your employees, whether they’re interacting directly with customers or not.

Based on this definition, do you have a CX Mission? Has it been recorded, communicated to all, and agreed upon?

Creating a CX mission can be as simple as answering a few questions:

  1. What’s our Brand Promise?
  2. What’s in it for the customer?
  3. What experience can we deliver?
  4. What do we want our customers to feel?

Those answers can be compiled into a single statement that’s easy to share with all in the organization: 

Source: Experience Investigators CX Mission Statement Workbook

Creating your CX Mission is an important first step, but when you use that mission to influence what you deliver and how it’s delivered, the power of the CX Mission is revealed.

Want to dive deeper into CX Missions?

Ready to create your CX Mission?

 

Step 2. Make CX Goals a bridge to larger departmental and organizational goals

We know it’s near-impossible for organizations to successfully mold their customer experience if CX roles and responsibilities are under-defined or developed.

A common reaction to this can be to associate CX roles with an existing department. This might be HR, marketing, customer support, or others.

The trouble with this approach is that CX becomes siloed – and we’ve already learned the impact siloes have on CX across the organization.

A slightly better (but still not great!) approach is to delegate CX roles to employees within a “CX bubble” – a narrow range of departments or verticals. This at least allows for some cross-departmental collaboration.

Where this approach fails is that it doesn’t go far enough. Typically I’ll see these cross-functional teams made up exclusively of customer-facing employees or those who otherwise directly interact with customers.

While this can be empowering for those inside the “CX bubble,” it can have the opposite effect on everyone else, leading them to focus on customer experience less… or not at all!

When customer experience really succeeds it’s because all teams, right up to the C-level, recognize the importance of CX and their role in it.

And to make those in different departments value CX, goals must be tied back to their own objectives.

Enter the CX Success Statement.

At its heart, a CX Success Statement is simply a few sentences that define what CX success looks like in your organization.

A CX Success Statement identifies:

  • What specific CX outcomes will be most meaningful
  • How those specific outcomes tie back to larger organizational goals and leadership goals
  • The metrics you’ll use to measure success
  • The realistic parameters you’ll define success within.

A CX Success Statement isn’t just an idea in theory, it’s a tangible, actionable document that defines how success will be measured and inspires achieving those metrics. 

Its format is simple but powerful:

Source: Experience Investigators CX Success Statement Workbook

A CX Success Statement can guide your actions and keep your whole organization — including leadership — bought in and pulling in the same direction.

Interested in a more in-depth review of Customer Experience Success Statements?

Looking for help building your own CX Success Statement?

 

Step 3. Build a cross-functional team using a CX Charter

With your CX Mission and Success Statement created and shared across the organization, you’ve reached a stage where leaders and employees are speaking the same CX language and understand the value that CX can deliver.

Now it’s time to build your cross-functional CX team. But who should be on the team?

We recommend you include: 

  • Any leader who will have direct accountability over the most likely actions required to improve the customer journey
  • Team members from other areas that are close to the customer experience. (Remember: This may not only be customer-facing areas)

There are bigger questions at hand, too:

  • How should the team work together?
  • What should everyone be working on?
  • How are roles and responsibilities defined?

This is where we recommend a CX Charter. 

Source: Experience Investigators Customer Experience Charter Guidebook

A customer experience charter is a brief document outlining the agreements the CX governing team needs to align with their decisions. It typically focuses on statements around the overall vision and goals, as well as the roles and responsibilities of those on the team.

A CX Charter should address the following six components:

  1. What is Our CX Vision?
  2. What are Our CX Goals & Objectives?
  3. What are Our Roles & Responsibilities?
  4. How Can We Prioritize CX efforts?
  5. Who Needs to Know What We’re Doing? Who Needs to Approve?
  6. How Will This Team Work Together?

For a detailed look at each of these questions, check out our related article:

Looking for an interactive guide to help you build your charter?

Don’t worry about your team or Charter being perfect to begin with. If you can start with a small team of leaders who identify as CX champions, they can produce the first draft of the CX charter and begin to gain support to build a team. 

Once there is momentum, you can recruit more of the right people to the team confidently, and continue refining your Charter.

 

Step 4. Develop a regular meeting cadence

Unlike one-off projects and initiatives, Customer Experience is never done. It requires regular attention and action.

Once you’ve got your CX Team and Charter, it’s time to set a communication cadence that can be followed by all. 

The exact frequency of meetings will vary from organization to organization, but it’s important to establish and then stick to that cadence.

Nobody likes a meeting that’s not productive, is it’s also key to have a customer experience meeting agenda.

A typical agenda will include these steps:

  1. Review & discuss CX mission and goals
  2. Check in on progress on CX programs and priorities
  3. Review customer feedback and insights
  4. Discuss innovations and forecasting
  5. Identify next actions and accountabilities

To learn more about running your CX meetings, read the related article:

Looking for a detailed meeting agenda template?

Where are you on your customer experience journey?

Whether you’re ready to begin optimizing your cross-functional CX team meetings or you’re just beginning to define CX in your organization, know that CX is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you’re looking for more resources to help you along the way — including our Customer Journey Mapping template and workbook — visit our resource library.

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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