Monday, October 5, 2015

So, You've Got Executive Commitment...

Are your executives on board with your desire to improve the customer experience? 

When I'm asked about the largest impediment to a successful customer experience transformation, my answer is always this: a lack of executive buy-in and commitment.

By the way, "buy-in" isn't enough; it's commitment that you really want and need. Buy-in means they like your idea; commitment means they'll put their money where their mouths are. 

If company leadership isn't on board with focusing on the customer experience, then forget it; it won't happen. 

I'll go one step further and call out your CEO. She must be the first one to step up and say that the customer is going to be the priority for the company. The rest of the executive leadership team must then jump in line and support that directive by championing the message (and subsequent initiatives) throughout their organizations.

Most of the time, though, things happen a bit differently, i.e., the CEO doesn't just announce: "It's time to focus on the customer; it's time to improve the experience." (Ah, wouldn't that be nice!) There are usually some other efforts underway long before that happens. Here are two examples of those efforts; there may be others.

1. You have to prove it
It's a known fact that the CEO and the rest of her team need to know why any major resource expenditures are necessary. Yes, she wants/needs to see the numbers, the ROI. This means that, as a CX professional, you know you need to start by building the business case and earning your CEO's commitment.

Need some help getting that commitment? I've written a few posts on this topic, but these are two of my favorites:

Help! My Execs Don't Get It! 
Aligning the Organization Around the Customer with Customer Rooms

2. Someone down the ladder gets it
Sometimes well-intentioned middle managers who want to do the right thing by and for the customer begin some localized or departmentalized efforts to improve the experience. Unfortunately, these efforts are typically silo'd and translate into silo'd experiences for the customer. And that's not the transformation you, nor your customer, are expecting

Revert back to scenario #1. In walks the CX professional to recommend a different approach that turns these efforts into a solid business case that then garners CEO and organization-wide commitment.

Speaking of organization-wide commitment, need some ideas for getting employee buy-in, too? Here's a post I wrote on that topic:

Getting Employee Buy-In for Your #CX Transformation

(By the way, I haven't forgotten about the importance of the employee experience in this equation. For the purpose of this post, know that it's baked into everything we're doing.)

Let's assume we've earned that oft-elusive commitment. From everyone. What's next?

We need a few things...
  1. CX Vision
  2. Strategy
  3. Governance structure
... pretty much in that order.  Without a vision, we have no direction. Without a strategy, we have no plan to execute on the vision. And without a governance structure, we might as well be herding cats; we perpetuate silo thinking and fail to achieve cross-functional alignment, involvement, and commitment that is also critical to a successful customer experience transformation.

Here's the bottom line. Having executive commitment ensures you'll get resources - human, capital, or other - to execute on your customer experience strategy. Employee commitment means employees are on board to delivered the desired experience. Your CX vision will get everyone on the same page, focusing on the right outcomes. For the customer. And for the business.

Nothing stops an organization faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow. -Jon Madonna

This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association's Blog Carnival "Celebrating Customer Experience." It is part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day. Check out posts from other bloggers at CX Day Blog Carnival. See more at: http://cxday.org.


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