The Key to Customer Experience Vision

Successful customer experience programs include all parts of the organization.

There are many ways to approach the delivery of a customer experience (CX) program, including understanding what types of projects are involved and identifying the core attributes of a compelling vision. However, Olive Huang, research vice president at Gartner, says that organizations often fail to work as one to deliver the CX program.

CX management is a team sport and should engage all departments from supply chain to HR to ensure success

“An organization must work together to create a customer-centric employee culture,” says Ms. Huang. “Representing only some parts of the business in the CX leadership means the program can become skewed toward an individual agenda instead of the wider organizational vision.”

Appoint a program leader

CX leaders are a recent phenomenon, and they are essential to delivering a coherent vision. However,  there is no single ‘right’ way of leading and organizing an improved CX program. In about 50% of cases, the CX leader reports directly to the CEO, board or operating committee, and the rest of the time the role reports to the most senior person in customer service, marketing, sales or operations.

The chosen CX leader must possess the skills to rise to several key challenges: Traditional CX skills are clearly important, like the ability to plan and lead customer research and use the findings to develop policy and process frameworks across the organisation. A talent for fostering strong executive support is also crucial to ensure that business units and stakeholders pursue an integrated approach across a range of diverse engagement channels.

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“This usually means an ability to clearly demonstrate and report on the financial value of a CX program,” Huang says. “An ability to inspire employees at all levels is vital to creating widespread support that will make a CX vision an integral part of the organizational culture.”

The ability to inspire at all levels is key to ensure CX spans the entire organization and is not restricted to the traditional customer-facing sales, marketing and customer service departments. CX management is a team sport and should engage all departments from supply chain to HR to ensure success. The advocacy of the CEO or a top executive is important in making this happen; creating internal pressure to support the vision the CX leader produces and implements.

Adopt a committee-based approach

Adopting a committee-based approach to CX management is the most common scenario, and helps ensure awareness and participation from each relevant department. The leader from each department does not have to participate directly, but their representative does need enough seniority to be able to make decisions and take action.

With a diverse team in place, identify the key customer journeys that are most important for the organization and then set up a governance model that ensures these journeys are executing properly.

“The CX leader must ensure that execution is as consistent as possible despite being carried out across multiple departments,” adds Huang. “This means setting targets and measuring performance.”

Measuring the value of each CX project is an ongoing challenge. While increasing voice of the customer (VoC) adoption is helping to better measure customer satisfaction, organizations still struggle to link evidence of an improved CX metric to financial benefit.

The key is to embrace a hierarchy of CX metrics that align low-level operational benefits with CX improvement. This requires auditing the operational metrics that impact the CX, of which there may be several across the organization, and linking each to a financial outcome.

“CX is not an overnight fix. It takes years of commitment and there will be moments that its value is called into question. Putting the right CX leader in place, with the skills to bring together a diverse team, is vital to ensuring a positive outcome,” says Huang.

Gartner clients can read more in the research note: Create a Compelling Vision for Your Customer Experience Program by Olive Huang. More information on the customer experience can be found in the Gartner Special Report “Future Experience: A Gartner Theme Insight Report,” a collection of research analyzing the future of experience from the perspectives of IT, marketing, supply chain, and technology and service provider leaders.

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