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What Every C-Suite Leader Needs to Know about Customer Experience

What Does Customer Experience Success Mean to Your C-Suite?

There’s a scenario that seems to repeat itself.

The CEO or another C-suite leader gets excited about customer experience. So they decide to commit to this idea – that creating better customer experiences will lead to happier customers, leading to better results.

They sometimes stop there. They might talk about this idea in meetings or even ask someone to lead this focus, but maybe not with a full title or team. These discussions are more like, “Hey you – CMO – you think about customers, right? We need to get better at customer experience. Can you sort of take the lead here?”

The CMO is still the Chief Marketing Officer, but now they’re the defacto Chief Experience Officer. There is nothing formal about this.

OR the C-Suite might get invested enough to make investments. They create a top level for Customer Experience (usually a VP of…customer experience or customer insights) and wish that leader well.

Yet there’s no real strategy. No resources. No team. And no clear, defined goals.

So in a year, or maybe less, they look to these appointed (sometimes volunteer) leaders and ask, “Are we there yet? Are we winning at customer experience?”

And of course, these leaders don’t have real answers. They’re left to defend the actions they’ve taken and the results they’ve achieved IN SPITE of the lack of resources. But it’s not enough. The C-Suite executives look around and decide that customer experience is still a great idea – just not one that needs a leader or a team. Leaders lose their jobs. Teams are reassigned. And business goes back to the status quo of focusing on internal processes.

Tumultuous economies, unpredictable landscapes, and increasing customer expectations create even more angst here. Leaders are expected to “deliver” but aren’t really aligned with what that actually means. And if the only results are customer feedback metrics, the Chief Financial Officer starts to see dollars going INTO customer experience efforts but not returning to improve the bottom line.

I believe that leading with a focus on the customer experience will absolutely deliver for organizations and their leaders. But in order to do that, we have to help the C-Suite understand, appreciate, and ultimately manage what customer experience can do.

So right now – don’t wait on this – start building your case for why it’s important to invest in customer experience at your organizations. These are just five of the many ways to discuss CX and all it can do for your organization with your C-Suite now.


Five Ways to Discuss CX with your C-Suite Leaders


1. Customer Experience Is Happening Already. We Need to Intentionally Manage It.

You don’t even have to say the words “customer experience” and it still happens. Customer experience is NOT a tool or technology or feedback system. Customer experience is the end-to-end experience your customer has with your brand, which leads to their perceptions and emotional responses to that experience. If you have customers, they are having an experience.

Don’t confuse investing in a tool or technology as investing in customer experience.

What great leaders do is get intentional. They have a vision and build strategies and tactics to get there. Managing customer experience is no different.

Great customer experiences require leaders who are intentional, proactive, and consistent.

You can’t just talk about customer experience to make it real. You have to create a powerful vision and understand what results are expected.

Related: The 3 Commitments of Customer Experience

2. Customer Experience Strategy Is Tied to Overall Business Outcomes.

It’s not enough to say your strategy is “create great experiences” or “exceed expectations.”

I would ask: how do you define great experiences? And whose expectations are we exceeding? By how much?

Things get a bit more challenging when thinking this way, but by defining outcomes you can see how the business will succeed. Business outcomes must be measurable. That means defining real outcomes like “increasing retention by X%” or “reducing customer service calls” which leads to higher revenue and decreased expenses – the two outcomes every organization has.

CX strategy is not just about the customers. It’s about real outcomes for the entire organization.

(Our CX Success Statement walks you through how to create your own.)

3. Customer Experience Communication Has To Be Relentlessly Repetitive.

Traditional education didn’t address customer experience strategy and discipline. Business leaders weren’t asked to think in ways that connected the entire customer journey. Managers weren’t given expectations around how to innovate around the customer experience.

It’s all new. And even for those who have read the books and perhaps even follow this blog – they need to hear the commitment from the top of the organization again and again and again.

A consistent cadence of communication around specific messages, including the CX Mission, what success looks like, and what’s working and what’s not, provides reassurance and reminders that this is important. It’s not a “theme” of just one event. It’s how business is done. And leaders from the C-Suite are committed.

This is how managers and others start seeing opportunities to correct problems faster and innovate in creative ways. This is how things speed up throughout the organization. Employees feel empowered because they know CX is a priority for real.

4. Customer Experience Is Directly Related to Employee Experience.

Employees are who deliver the customer experience. So they need to feel supported, empowered and celebrated when they achieve great things for customers, for your organization, and for their teams.

Brands that promise respect to customers must be aligned in how they show up for employees. And the best part is that employees are then even more committed and aligned with the customer experience you want to deliver.

It’s worth noting that happier customers typically mean happier employees, who are less likely to leave and more likely to refer others to work for the brand. That means higher employee retention and reduced hiring costs. It’s a total win/win.

5. Customer Experience Creates a Competitive Advantage

Companies that invest in customer experiences simply do better than the companies that do not. It’s been shown in both short-term and long-term ways.

And there are so few ways to get ahead and stay ahead in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing marketplace. This is a winning strategy for today and tomorrow.


Need more convincing?

There are so many more ways customer experience provides value. Need to know where to invest? This article, Is Customer Experience Worth It? And How Much Should You Invest? , has some ideas on both.

Now is the time to prioritize CX in the C-Suite. So today is the day to help these leaders understand what they need to know!


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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