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Creative ways to involve company leadership in your CX programme


In this extract from their new book Why Your Customer Experience Program Will Fail, Friederike Niehoff and Aleksandra Pilniak explore why many companies make it too difficult for leaders to engage with and sponsor the CX programme.

13th Mar 2023
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A huge mistake that will make your life really difficult is taking on the customer experience journey on your own. Without uniting leadership behind your goals and getting their commitment, you will have to beg for their time and resources. Instead, you want leaders to drive the CX transformation and lead by example.

But leaders can be curious creatures. On the one hand, they are the driving force in your organisation and the glue that holds everything together. On the other hand, they can hinder your strategy in several ways. Taking that into account, you need to make sure that your leaders have a good understanding of the change you are undertaking, are willing to change themselves, and have the right skills to do it well.

We experienced that one key to success is to find creative ways of involving leadership. By making it effortless for them to support your CX programme, you will get effective support. Nobel laureate economist Richard Thaler once said that if you want people to do something, you have to make it easy. This might sound obvious but it’s also easy to miss. And after more than 40 years of studying human behaviour, Thaler definitely knows a thing or two about how to influence people, so let’s pay attention to what he has to say.

The key message of his brilliant book Nudge (2008) is that governments can improve the health and well-being of their citizens by more thoughtfully designing their rules and procedures. These rules and procedures can then prompt people to subconsciously make better decisions because it nudges them into the right direction. A nudge is therefore defined as a small aspect of people’s decision-making context that changes their behaviour in a predictable way. This can easily be applied to customers instead of citizens, of course, such as when you want to send them down a certain path on your website or in your store, but you can also use it to your advantage in getting leadership to show certain behaviour supporting your CX programme. Here’s how.

First of all, you want to make sure that the key message of your programme sticks and sparks action. So make sure to develop a simple elevator pitch to summarise your message, tailored to leaders. To make it easy for them, distil what you’re trying to convey into a few short phrases. Lead with your point by designing your headline in a way that immediately grabs their attention and promises the solution to a problem. The title of this book is an example of that. You don’t want your CX programme to fail, do you? The title probably grabbed your attention and you bought the book looking for a solution. By also using visuals to support your message, you provide even more convenience to your fellow leaders.

Next, provide a clear way for them to learn more about your programme. Most leaders will want just a bite of information as they have a busy schedule, but some might crave a snack or even be hungry enough for a whole meal of information. By following these steps, you’ll make it easy for other leaders who will get the message faster and will be more likely to take action.

Visibility is another key aspect to involve other leaders. Just like with your own visibility, it is crucial that the leadership within your organisation lead by example and demonstrate experience-centric behaviour. To make this effortless on their side, facilitate it for them.

One example of how we did this in the past is using a CX vlog. We asked a few leaders in key positions to visit customers and talk to them about their needs and challenges. You know best which leaders would be suitable for this and perhaps already support your cause. During these visits, we instructed our colleagues to record short videos using their smartphones. In these videos, they shared their learnings from talking to customers and sometimes even funny experiences they had with them. Out of all the videos we received, we produced a simple compilation of the highlights and shared it in our CX workshops and on the intranet. The response was amazing! Seeing leaders visiting customers, talking to them, showing interest in their needs and sharing their learnings inspired other employees to do the same and emphasised the importance of being experience-centric.

Another example we would like to share is the use of customer panels during leadership events. At most companies where we worked, leadership events were a fixture on the calendar every year. Some called it leadership community, others management meetings, but in essence they all invited leadership to share knowledge, make plans and improve collaboration. These events offer an ideal opportunity for you to be visible and shine as well. By organising customer panels during these events, you can share the voice of the customer with relevant stakeholders and make it easy for them to get in touch with their target group.

Having customer panels at leadership events shows yet again that everyone thinks that listening to customers is important, because why would you invite them otherwise? Last but not least, also make sure to keep inspiring your fellow leaders by sharing knowledge and best practices. You are an expert in the field and they can (and hopefully want to) learn a lot from you. It can sometimes also be powerful to invite external speakers and CX managers from other companies to share their experiences and vision, so as to get some real outside-in boosts.

A method that is less creative but very effective is a clear RACI responsibility assignment matrix for your CX programme. RACI stands for:

  • Responsible – This person is expected to do the work.
  • Accountable – This person is held responsible for achieving results.
  • Consulted – This person has the expertise in or authority over the process that requires that they be consulted before the final decision is made. 
  • Informed – These people are affected by the activity or decision so they must be informed after the decision is made.

The RACI matrix is used to clarify roles and responsibilities for each task, milestone and decision throughout your project or programme. It is designed to ensure clear communication and smooth workflows across all parts of a team, which is especially important when working cross-functionally.

Having a RACI matrix helps to prevent that frustrating feeling when a major decision-maker complicates things at the end of a project by requiring a large number of changes because they weren’t consulted during the project. By clearly defining all roles and responsibilities, you also make sure that your stakeholders (which will most likely be leaders) act on insights and measurements. 

Why Your Customer Experience Program Will Fail by Friederike Niehoff and Aleksandra Pilniak is available now.


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