How the world's best CX leaders foster internal support for their workby
By taking a look at the work of the applicants from MyCustomer's CX Leader of the Year programme, we're able to identify how some of the world's most successful customer experience professionals have fostered support from and collaboration with the rest of their organisations.
If customer experience leaders are to drive real change at their organisations, and lay the groundwork for their customer experience management programmes to be a success, they need to get buy-in from the entire business. As Jeanne Bliss has said, in order for CX programmes to succeed they must not only engage the advocates in the organisation, but also the outliers.
What the CX Leader of the Year programme demonstrated is that the most successful customer experience leaders have worked hard - and continue to work hard - on building CX’s reputation within their organisations.
It is standard practice to require buy-in from senior leadership to ensure CX programmes get off of the ground. But as Aarthi Murali, chief customer officer at M&T Bank explained, this can involve more than just a simple presentation and a business plan.
“The first step in creating the momentum we needed was to gain the critical buy-in necessary across leadership. We ran a two-month long CX Bootcamp with a management group where executives leaned in to learn about CX, spoke candidly about their understanding and belief in it, and learned why taking ownership would yield a better customer experience and a return on investment for the Bank. Although this was a new way of thinking for some, we were able to get a critical majority to take ownership across our major lines of business.
“To catalyse and accelerate the bank wide culture shift, in addition to Bootcamp, we created a trailblazer network, a CX Steering Committee, a CX roadshow campaign, and we launched CX Ignite – a campaign around leaning into CX through celebration of accomplishments and active conversation. We launched a series called End Your Week with the Customer to have more in-depth conversations about specific customer problems.
"We also built a podcast called Leading in an Experience Economy in which I have conversations with leaders across industries about how they’re making life better for customers. All of this not only raised awareness about the importance of customer-centricity but it accelerated the exposure and engagement we were able to have in a short period of time.”
How can CX support be fostered in the wider organisation?
But of course for some organisations it is not only the company leadership that need to be won over.
For Elly Domene, vice president global customer experience at SES, there was always solid and strong c-suite support, with the CEO even owning the customer advisory board. But initially, Elly did not have her own budget, which made it crucial to build bridges and raise awareness of CX within the rest of the organisation.
“By not having my own budget, I was forced in the beginning to collaborate, convince and inspire the functional areas to see the value in customer centric improvements - so much that they would allocate their budget to it. This also made them feel ownership for the changes we were making. And that helped to deeply root the value of CX inside the organisation. When I got my own CX budget, I just had the chance to do more in parallel. I never stopped collaborating with the functional areas. Quite the opposite, every year we create a roadmap and decide how to embed CX deeper and deeper into our company.”
Communication is key. And Elly recommends tailoring the language and communications according to the part of the business you’re speaking with.
“I try to adapt 'my language' as much as possible to my stakeholders. How I engage with my CFO is very different than how I engage with my CEO or Chief Services Officer. We try to correlate as much as possible the customer insights to their internal KPIs and business outcomes that they are responsible for. Always trying to answer "what does this mean to me". And not just on C-suite level, also bottom up.”
Shaun Myers, director of supply chain and service at Brenntag UK & Ireland, has also worked hard to personalise the explanations of CX, framing his conversations with stakeholders and staff by explaining how each and everyone of the employees has a part to play.
“We have collectively (a team of cross-function CX colleagues) created a journey map to help colleagues understand how they all have a part to play in the customer journey. This has now been translated into multiple languages and is widely used through Brenntag globally and helps us all visualise and acknowledge that what we do matters.”
The importance of customer voices
David Hart, customer experience manager at KIA UK, told us that the most important way to build the internal reputation of the CX programme was to focus on real customer voices.
“We had to remove any doubt in the minds of employees, and employees of our dealer partners, as to what our customer experience programme was and what their responsibilities were. This meant doing away with any programmes not featuring real customer feedback, e.g. mystery shops and call critiquing. Stripping the customer experience back to the core meant the vision of real customers, real feedback would have a chance. Most importantly, we could secure real ‘buy-in’ from all involved if real-life experiences were at the heart of our programme.
“The first step of removing any artificial feedback which was met with a great response. Now the dealer network and CX team could work from only the customer voice, meaning there were no concerns this was going to be dismissed as illegitimate; customers would have greater insight than even the best mystery shopper. It was their experience, let it be told.
“Gathering real feedback, meant multiple sources were required. From solicited surveys after an interaction, to online unsolicited reviews (Google, Facebook, etc). A logical continuation of the real feedback was to ensure the real feedback became an actionable vision – thus the vision developed into a single platform from which our customers (the Kia Dealerships) could review their customer’s feedback as well as analyse, and create measurable action plans to improve their customer experience.
“So, the primary vision was to develop the real customers real feedback as our driving force. Seeding this idea out to our dealer partners meant having the buy-in from our own internal senior management team and our field teams. Working with each team a list of key needs was created that should be used, what areas are not looked at, what areas that we would like to explore.”
But leave it to the ultimate winner of Customer Experience Leader of the Year 2021 to have arguably the most comprehensive set of measures to build out CX’s reputation within the business. Sri Safitri, deputy executive VP of customer experience and digitisation at Telkom Indonesia, has conducted regular events to educate leaders and employees, sharing CX insights with strategies and best practices from CX experts.
These have included:
Launching an internal monthly online talkshow (CX Talks) for all Telkom Group employees providing CX insights, best practices and overall encouragement shared by external experts and internal senior leaders.
The creation of a CX Forum for senior leaders and management, that acts as both a sharing session and also a workshop to develop ideas of how to improve CX in the company’s service operation.
The development of a CX website (cxsense.com) to serve as a collaboration channel among CX experts and enthusiasts across industries, and facilitated for all internal employees to gain valuable insights related to CX.
The creation of a CX elearning initiative to provide a basic knowledge training programme that increases employee awareness of customer experience and develops a comprehensive understanding of customer experience management.
A series of initiatives truly worthy of great recognition!
Neil Davey was previously the editor of MyCustomer from 2007 until May 2023. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 20 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management.