…develop the building blocks of your internal CX processes to align with your customers
Customer Experience like every other discipline or organizational process hinges on a number of key components: people, measurement framework, processes and tools and technologies. Crucially, people constitute key elements such as structure and provide oversight as well as act as conduits to the rest of the organization.
Therefore, in your quest to build a customer-centric culture, you need to identify the individuals and teams within each cross-functional area who will take ownership of the actual improvement work and projects to be executed. A good starting point for the customer experience journey in the short-term is the provisional governance, a cross-functional cross-hierarchical team that will tackle initial tasks. Experts recommend a form of documentation, Customer Experience Charter that will capture agreements on how to execute processes effectively and efficiently.
The charter will spell out clearly how success will be measured by identifying what metrics to measure, the governance structure is usually made up of a committee of 6 – 14 people representing key stakeholders in the organization, a communications approach that will be a vehicle to communicate progress, milestones that will indicate short-term goals to accomplish and inhibitors to take note of, and a supporting structure for decision-making on how to recruit ‘charges’ and who to hold accountable.
The charter is a useful tool to help to your organization become aligned to what you are trying to do and to determine if what is being done is having the intended impact. A fit for purpose governance structure will enable you manage processes and workflows that align with your purpose. Some key questions to ask during the build stages are; governance, who heads Customer Experience initiatives, Action Teams and Customer Experience Activators.
This is made up originally of a provisional governance structure selected by the head of the organization, and its focus is on the initial task of developing the Charter and defining goals. It will be a cross-functional group with decision-making and organizational power spanning processes, divisions and geographies. The next steps in this process would be to work towards the institution of a permanent governance structure where the membership will have oversight of all customer experience activities in the organization.
These will be responsible for doing all customer experience activities however their approach would be one of coordination. They will normally be long-term members of the company with several years of experience thus fulfill the role in addition to their normal roles. Members from Sales, marketing, finance, human resources and product development among others will be represented in this group. They will be the hub and sounding-board for all related issues. They are there to create consistency in the customer experience and ensure that when interacting with customers they are delivering the brand promise.
These leaders will serve as role models to deliver customer experience goals to those on the frontlines who serve customers directly, regularly. They will also ensure that the correct metrics are in place with matching incentives in order to align typically sliced units into effective cross-functional teams. It is essential that organization design supports rather than stand in the way of customer experience goals.
The organizational culture must support localized ownership of customer experience success, deeply and broadly across employees to make customer experience excellence a way of life in the company by, keeping executives and employees motivated to see their jobs in a customer-centered context. Top companies like FedEx depend on a steering committee that meets regularly to review customer experience improvement projects and make decisions about where to move forward.
The Chief Customer Officer Role
According to Jeanne Bliss author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0, “Successful Chief Customer/Experience dig into the operations of the business.
They unite the C-Suite and the business to reevaluate how to grow the business, and they guide the organization to prioritize for customer-driven growth.” (“C-suite” refers to the executive-level managers within a company e.g. Chief Executive Officer – CEO, Chief Operating Officer – COO etc).
Their main responsibilities are centred around leading initiatives and advocating for customers across the organization, acting as change agents, motivating frontline employees, using data to build a 360-degree view of the customer and bringing the customer into the company’s operations.
For CCOs/CXOs to be successful they must be respected for their wisdom and experience in the organization. It is recommended that an appointee to this role must be someone from adjacent parts of the organization or another respected organization to establish credibility and trust.
The key is to have someone with empathy and perspective from multiple points of view. Someone who has rotated in the organization will easily fit into this mould. Such a person will better serve in this role given the authority and budget to get things done. This person may not necessarily be responsible for doing everything, but must have the organizational power and influence to have oversight and executive powers in the creation and sustainment of agreed CX-related organizational initiatives.
The CCO for an organization, GoCardless, one of the fastest growing Fintech businesses in the UK, Pat Phelan is at the forefront of supporting customers throughout the pandemic. Through its core business of helping businesses simplify recurring payments they have grown from strength to strength despite the unusual times we find ourselves in.
Through a deliberate strategy of building a variety of pathways for customers, they ensure that at the start of every customer journey they assign a business manager and constantly create new ways to engage and support the customer.
By making sure the customer’s company values are represented in everything they see and hear they are able to handhold the client and offer personalized service while dealing with them. Furthermore, her advice to every business is that you plan for the future and what your customers will want from you a year down the line.
Another step in establishing governance for your Customer Experience is to set up Action teams. These are cross-functional teams assembled to solve a customer problem or activity. Once they accomplish their goal they are dissolved or moved on to the next issue.
Let’s consider this example in a vehicle assembly plant where components are ordered for the next phase in the value chain. If parts-ordering is an issue the company recruit from sales, marketing, operations and human resources and supply chain on the team to address the challenge.
They are supported by CX governance and the CCO and his/her staff. Ebenezer Banful a customer experience proponent shares the following insights into the role of the Customer Experience Team. According to him Customer experience teams should predominantly look at their role in the organization as distinct parts in the following ways.
First, gathering information and knowledge, according to him operating purely on opinions often leads to suspicion, distrust and unwarranted criticism. Second, implement improvements through change initiatives and letting the customer know their voice is being heard.
Third, generating and sharing insights by digging-in and making sense from data that you discover actionable insights thus enabling you make more informed decisions, design and deliver more successful outcomes and create mutual value.
Fourth, monitoring and measuring to help you see patterns, encourage people to improve performance and show the relationship with what you do and the outcomes you are striving for. Finally, recommending and advising on processes to change different people, technology and skills. Action teams enhance your communication systems both internally (employees) and externally (customers).
Customer Experience Activators
These are essentially brand champions or ambassadors (they go by many names depending on the organization). They are mid-level frontline personnel who serve as the eyes and ears of Customer Experience initiatives. Their role is to gather feedback from frontline employees as well as communicate to the frontline staff strategies being deployed.
Their feedback on how various CX initiatives is being received by both employees and customers provide useful insights for both publics. It is a critical informal link between the governance committee led by the CCO/CXO and the frontline staff who are responsible for getting things done at the frontline. They don’t need to be set up at once they come into the fray as issues emerge and the need arises to keep a close look at goings-on at different levels.
Aaron Rios, Head of Operations at rapidly growing Midland States Bank set up governance and a series of actions of teams. Provisional governance was composed of people from across the organization representing marketing, operations, human resource, retail operations, call center, and other areas across their business units. they deployed VOC metrics across the organization by business line and generated feedback on an ongoing basis. By using action teams, they effectively changed focus from acquisitions to customer centered issues thus improving very significantly their customer engagement process.
Customer experience governance is pivotal to setting up an organization where customer experience is one of its disciples of working. First movers in this space are convinced that it is an integral component of Customer experience that requires prudent and creative thinking.
|The Writer is a Management Consultant. He can be reached on 059 175 7205, [email protected],