Executive Sponsorship—Key to Effective Customer Experience Programs: Part Two
Getting It Going
In part one of this blog series, we shared some insights from our experiences about why executive sponsorship of a customer experience program is so important, the significance of executive support, getting employees onboard, and infrastructure considerations.
For those of you just getting started in a CX role, here are some tips for establishing a program based on what we learned a few years ago when we began our CX journey:
- Establish a clear governance structure with a dedicated project owner.
- Conduct executive interviews across the business, in advance, to establish understanding and to gain a baseline of where they think the company is in terms of how it rates with customers. It’s helpful to compare that to what your customers tell you. You’ll find discrepancies and key initial areas of focus simply by doing that!
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate! (And not just via e-mail; be sure to convene your sub-committees regularly and open discussion.)
- Stick with it, be patient, and persevere even when it’s frustrating. Building long-term customers is not a short-term process.
Some of you may wonder how this fits with your primary role. For some of us, this has become a big and strategic part of our primary role. We have a strong, established team with good leadership around the functions we own: customer experience, marketing and sales enablement—and that helps build traction and active participation in the program.
Using What We Learn to Make Other Areas Successful
In fact, a lot of what we’ve learned has helped strengthen our marketing efforts, the work we do with our customer advisory councils, our approach to customer advocacy, and our customer reference program.
Further, we use it to help other areas drive CX for their functions, which in turn makes the overall program more successful.
Here at Verint, we have great executive support for CX. It is a privilege for me to represent our customers when we meet as an executive team regularly. Our president and our general manager are supportive advocates of the customer experience program. We needed our president’s sponsorship when we convened the CX executive sponsorship committee, which was the group responsible for strategy development and monitoring of program progress. With those two already on board, others had incentive to attend and get onboard as well.
In fact, we continue to lean on that support as we launch new initiatives. Our CX Program VP Nancy Porte is well-known in the customer experience world and shares her experiences and findings with others. Read her blog for CustomerThink on why executive understanding of—and support for—such a program is so important.
Make the Data Meaningful to Executives
It’s also key to share customer feedback that’s tailored to executives’ needs to help make it more actionable to them. As we’ve done this, we’ve been able to provide great insights to individual departments. Not surprisingly, that has helped create demand for it. They’re now hungry for this data and seek it to help make their functions even more effective.
To keep the program highly visible in the organization, we include CX as part of our weekly updates and proactively involve our executives for support on specific projects. As part of our monthly CX executive steering committee, the team as a whole provides great insight and direction for continued growth and progress.
A final suggestion: Create a strategy around how the entire organization can embrace this new understanding of the customer. When each employee understands his or her impact on the customer and is empowered to do what is necessary to develop that relationship, the program really hits its stride.
We have launched a cultural evolution called developing Customer 4Life. Having a theme like this truly matters—it has become part of many formal and informal discussions each day. At the same time, it’s important to make sure it’s about culture and not just a catchy slogan:
- A theme makes it clear to the employee—what do I personally do to develop customers for life? Training can be developed once you define the attributes of your theme.
- A theme helps create culture change by creating a common language.
- It also empowers employees to prioritize their work and make decisions that put the customer first.
We hope you have found these two blogs helpful and actionable for your organization. Feel free to leave me a comment on what has worked well in your efforts—I’d love to hear from you.
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