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Prioritize CX Leadership

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Bibi Sofowote, CCXP

It is a mistake to bury Customer Experience Management under other functions or departments within your organization.

Let’s talk about it.

The year was 2011. The final Harry Potter movie was crushing it at the box office. Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and The Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO were the two biggest songs of the year. Apple released the iPhone 4S, less than 10 days after the passing of Steve Jobs. Virgin founder, Richard Branson opened the first commercial Spaceport in the United States. Aaaand Netflix… Well, Netflix made a serious mistake.

You see, they started using customer survey results as a leading indicator of customer churn. I know… I heard it too: gasps from CX experts from all over the world. Talk about the wrong tool for the right job. But you’re going to have to suppress that outrage as I tell you that even today, in 2023, there are still businesses who view customer survey results this way.

I look forward to a future blogpost where I dive deeper into Voice of Customer (VoC) efforts, and the place of customer surveys within a broader strategy. However, today, suffice it to say, that customer survey results are not leading indicators because they lag, meaning, they are a consequence of prior business execution and are generated only after customers have seen and felt the results of that execution.

But back to our topic today. If Netflix in 2011 had had Customer Experience leaders, who were rightly positioned and empowered within the organization, they might have done things differently and avoided the loss of 800,000 subscribers, a 77% drop in stock value, and severe damage to the company management’s reputation.

Look: There should be a very clear and short line between the person leading your company’s Customer Experience strategy, and the CEO. Customers, their needs, and their experience of you are the reason you even have a business. Ideally, you should have a Chief Customer Officer reporting directly into the CEO.

Treating CX as an afterthought, or burying it under a pile of other functions or pillars means that everyone in your company is not intentionally thinking about customer outcomes in their day-to-day strategy and execution. Certainly, if the people “driving” CX within your organization do not have the appropriate reach and influence, how far can you realistically expect them to go?

The person driving your company’s Customer Experience focus, whatever their title, must have a seat at the table. Studies from Gartner, Forrester and other leading sources indicate that companies with a CCO or CXO are more likely to record higher customer satisfaction, greater customer loyalty, and significant revenue growth.

Think about it - Whoever is ultimately accountable for CX ROI must:

  • Help define the company's customer-centric vision, and develop a strategy to achieve it. This includes identifying the company's target customers, understanding their needs, and galvanizing all functional groups, whether back-end or customer-facing, toward meeting those needs in ways that customers can value.

  • Act as a customer advocate within the company by communicating VoC insights to other executives and departments, and have the influence to ensure prioritization.

  • Last but not least, be able to drive innovation by identifying and sponsoring new ways to improve the customer experience. This could involve developing new products or services, or using new technologies to improve the customer journey.

What all of this means is that your Customer Experience sponsor must be an executive-level leader and they should have a say in the company's overall strategy and have influence over the execution of that strategy across all functional departments. If you want real CX success and ROI, you have got to be prepared to invest in this leadership role. They will need to have the resources necessary to be successful, including access to data, technology, and a direct line to the captain of the vessel.

My friends, CX Management is not a one-time project. Today, customers have more choices than ever before. They can switch to a competitor in the blink of an eye if they’re not happy with their experience. So it’s important for companies to focus on CX Management, CX Improvement and CX Innovation.

And that... is just not something you can cook on the back burner.

Thanks for reading this article. How will you use this information to make your customer experience better today? What have you observed in your environment Reach out. Connect. I’ll be reading and responding. And learning.

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