Monday, October 12, 2015

Does the C-Suite Stand Behind Your Customer Experience Initiative

Great customer experience management is a differentiator for companies. It also has to be driven as a culture within the company starting at Board level.

Digital is the age of customers. CEM-Customer Experience Management is in most of the companies’ corporate vocabulary now. However, ‘talk the talk’ is the easy part, very few can walk the talk, how to define the CEM strategy proposition and implement it with the step-wise approach? The balancing act of looking to increase profit while keeping the customer-centric strategy of the business is perhaps tricky, so how to get the C-suite behind your Customer Experience initiatives?

The elephant in the room is a CX board/team without the C-suite in attendance. It will lack teeth and will slip back into silo arguments. The senior management must participate or the CX team will end up spinning wheel. Without the CXO participation, the initiatives may wither away or at best provide lip service. Especially with SMEs, it is important for the owner or stakeholders to have the vision and experience the benefits. A good CX solution should make better use of resources. The information has to be shared. If you could present a clear rationale linking customer experience to revenue and profits, then a senior leadership team is more likely to take notice. So, no matter what you call it, the real challenge is how you go about taking some subjectivity out of customer experience and inject some objectivity into it. There are a number of business areas that can be transformed by a systematic yet sensitive approach to customer feedback.

If CX upside is not seriously part of c-level concern when planning forward, only CX downside will prompt a concern. Business impact and Risk Management is the appropriate language to use. One way of getting the attention of the C-suite as to the value of CX is through the linkage of the NPS scores to relevant KPIs in the business. For example, you can demonstrate the impact of the service equation, measured through the lens of NPS. By evaluating detractor spend vs. promoter spends, you can demonstrate that the incremental $ spend loss from a detractor is a quadruple incremental increase of a promoter. This exercise validates the criticality of mitigating detractor experience by assigning a dollar value to the business impact of that bad experience. For the CX and Ops teams, it reinforces the focus on mitigating detractors vs. optimizing promoters, and catches the attention of the CXOs in the process, because often there are definitely mis-alignments across the C-suite, across the globe. As we all know "It is the customer who determines what a business is." (Peter Ferdinand Drucker)

Different C-level roles understand the importance of Customer Experience from their own lenses. While Sales VPs generally accept that if the work is done well, their win rates improve. One of the marketing's roles is to drive demand generation. So providing numbers to marketing that explains how CX will create more leads is important. How to identify NPS Promoters and activating them is one good method of generating more leads, or converting existing leads to sales. One way to help CIOs understand the criticality of Customer Experience is to propose to run a survey for them on the satisfaction of internal users with IT services. Also, more often than not, IT is a differentiating element in digitizing every touch point of Customer Experience. If you can show that you can apply customer listening techniques to do it better than their existing system, you will have a convert. It is indeed critical that the CFO understands the financial benefits of the work and has approved the method to relate NPS trends to revenue. Finally, CEO needs to be the customer advocate, if customers and customer experience are not among the top three items for your company strategy, you need to change jobs. Mixing and analyzing all results together in parallel, in order to obtain a real picture of the situation and demonstrate a holistic picture to engage C-levels.

The good customer experience management is the norm, but exceptional customer service and experience offers the 'WOW' concept as the necessary success factor to ensure you stay ahead of the game, particularly with your peers in the business. Hence, you have to put the customer at the heart of everything that you do as a business - great customer experience management is a differentiator for companies. It also has to be driven as a culture within the company starting at Board level. Therefore, getting the C-suite stand behind Customer Experience initiatives can truly make CE as an important component of business strategy, embed the culture of customer-centricity, and manage CE more systematically and effectively.


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