It’s been reported that the average tenure for customer experience leaders is between 12 to 24 months. And yet customer experience success is dependent on long-term strategy and ongoing execution.
This leads to a clear dilemma. Many CX leaders simply aren’t in their role long enough to deliver successful outcomes.
Why do CX leaders move on so quickly?
From what I’ve seen in my years of consulting, workshopping and coaching with organizations large and small, the answer is simple:
Most CX leaders are not set up for success.
- They are given expectations misaligned with their influence and accountability.
- They are asked for vague outcomes, like “better customer service” or “best-in-class customer journeys.”
- They are asked to move mountains with limited funding and resources.
What’s the solution? Let’s look at three things that can set CX leaders — and their organizations — up for success. Without these in place, organizations may be setting their CX leaders — and CX programs — up for failure.
1. A Clear Definition of Success
This is where most CX programs misstep. They have a loose understanding of what CX is, and no discussion of how it connects to overall business results. Or, the goals are only focused on tactics, not strategy.
Organizations need a North Star to guide their CX program.
At Experience Investigators, we call that North Star a Customer Experience Mission. A Customer Experience Mission is a guiding statement for your organization around what the experience should be for each customer, every time. It provides a consistent purpose around what the experience should be to everyone in the organization, whether they’re interacting directly with customers or not.
A CX Mission defines what customer experience means in your organization. But what makes customer experience meaningful?
The answer: A Customer Experience Success Statement.
A CX Success Statement is simply a few sentences that define what CX success looks like in your organization. It connects CX goals to the larger organization goals that matter to C-level leaders.
For example, measuring customer sentiment and loyalty must be tied to an organizational outcome. Instead of defining success as “a higher NPS score,” it’s better to define success with how that measurement will help drive business success.
“By delivering better experiences, which we’ll measure by NPS, retention and renewal rates will increase, supporting our organizational goal of increased tenure of current customers.”
If you have actual numbers to include, that’s even better.
CX leaders must make the case that investment in customer experience means a return on that investment for the entire organization. Don’t fall for tactics disguised as business outcomes.
One such example I’ve seen is “Map the customer journey.” That’s a tool and might be a goal for a specific time period, but WHY is the mapping happening?
- To understand a specific customer issue?
- To identify where more self-service can be offered?
- Or just because a leader heard they needed a map?
If that’s how success is defined, then that will require a lot of investment, and leaders might be scratching their heads about the ROI. That’s why it’s important to define those types of goals within the context of the great organizational goals:
“Map the customer journey to identify where to offer more self-service. Self-service will reduce customer service calls, leading to reduced service costs and improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Tying customer experience success to successful business outcomes is key to gaining executive buy-in.
According to GetFeedback’s 2022 State of CX Report, CX leaders who collect and share this view of CX and report on measurements that include loyalty, quality, and operational metrics are more likely to say executive leadership is very invested in CX.
Related Article: How to Ace Customer Experience Leadership in Year 1
2. Cross-Functional Collaboration
CX leaders cannot do it all alone. Those improvements identified in customer insight data? They require leaders who are accountable for that part of the journey.
CX leaders are often asked to lead by influence rather than accountability. Using the clear definition of success, CX leaders can gain trust from other leaders by highlighting how they will succeed if CX succeeds.
The most successful organizations also do more than asking these leaders to “volunteer” and put real accountability into action.
According to the GetFeedback report, CX leaders who collaborate cross-functionally are 27% more likely to have a high rate of ROI on their program. And they’re three times more likely to have a high business impact than leaders who have little or no collaboration across the organization.
It’s not enough to ask for things when they come up; coalitions are built on trust.
Invite leaders into the strategy development process and, whenever possible, improve the speed to insights for leaders. Reporting on a transactional customer satisfaction rate from an event two months ago doesn’t have the same impact as sharing it days or even hours after that event.
Once a core cross-functional CX team is established, use a CX Charter to set expectations around how often to meet, objectives for those meetings and how insights will lead to action plans.
This means successful customer experience requires building coalitions throughout the organization.
Related Article: What Innovative Customer Experience Leadership Looks Like
3. Relevant ROI Reporting
Customer experience, when delivered well, impacts nearly every aspect of the organization in positive ways. CX leaders need to communicate that beyond the idea of one metric.
Dashboards and other reporting tools often lack the context necessary to tie CX metrics with overall business performance. It’s up to the CX leader to provide that context in ongoing and easy-to-understand ways.
There’s a common misconception that customer experience doesn’t create real ROI. It’s up to leaders in customer experience to not only prove that wrong once and for all, but to do it in all the ways possible.
Most organizations care about increasing revenue, decreasing expenses and retaining both customers and employees for the long-term success of the business. Guess what customer experience does?
CX strategy requires reporting on CX results in ways that connect to the ROI of these programs. Confidently report on how proactive service design decreased service costs. Communicate how employees are happier because they have fewer customers complaining, and that happiness at work is translating into higher employee referrals. Highlight how loyal customers spend more money and make more purchases.
Every part of the organization can be positively impacted by a solid CX Strategy. CX leaders need to talk about it more.
Do Your CX Leaders Have All Three of These?
Quick recap: Without these three things, CX leaders are set up for failure:
- A clear definition of success
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Relevant ROI reporting
Customer experience leaders are expected to do a lot, and often not recognized for the value they bring the organization. Their leaders and peers might not be able to fully articulate what success means, which is why it’s so important for the CX leaders to do so themselves.
When CX leaders are set up for failure, it affects the larger CX program and even the organization as a whole.
But here’s the good news: The opposite is also true. When CX leaders are set up for success, it’s not just a win for them or the CX program — it’s a win for the whole organization.
Jeannie Walters is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and Founder of Experience Investigators: A firm that’s pioneered helping companies increase sales and customer retention through elevated customer experiences.
Trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer Experience,” Jeannie is considered the leading authority for improving both employee and customer relationships.