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What makes a successful customer experience leader?   

19th Jun 2019
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This year’s CX Leader of the Year award aims to raise the profile of those working tirelessly to improve their organisation’s approach to customer experience. So what makes for a successful customer experience leader?

Over the coming months, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the CX profession, publishing a series of articles, podcasts and videos to delve into what skills and attributes are required to deliver great customer experiences.

In conjunction with the CX Leader of the Year award, we’ll also be profiling some of the CX luminaries applying to win the coveted prize, prior to celebrating one worthy professional as 2019’s official CX Leader of the Year, in November.

With an expert judging panel experienced in both heading-up customer experience in large organisations across the globe and also helping to educate others to do so, we are kicking-off this year’s award campaign by asking five of our judges what they think is the fundamental criteria for being a CX leader.

Daniel OrdDaniel Ord, founder and director, OmniTouch International

“A customer experience leader has to be judged by two aspects: what they know and what they do.

“Sure - everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  But you can't lead CX at any level based purely on 'passion' or 'purpose'. Those words are great but they don't substitute for formal know-how around topics including behavioural economics, research, financial acumen (ROI is always going to be important), strategy and culture.  

"In terms of what they do, well, this list could be long. But as a minimum, and most importantly, CX leaders must:

  • Spend significant time talking to employees as well as talking to customers.   
  • Leverage small or quick wins to build momentum (and budget) for larger initiatives.
  • Work across departments - looking to bring the customer perspective to internal culture and process.
  • Keep their Voice of the Customer & Voice of the Employee strategies front and centre in all discussions, meetings and small-talk. 

“Behaviour is of course crucial. ‘If you want to know the health of the tree, examine the fruit’. I have written at length about this, but you can find out so much about whether you’re a good fit for CX leadership by asking yourself the following:

  • Do you clear your own tray at a fast food restaurant?
  • Did you share a compliment for good service received from another company?
  • Do you have passions or interests outside of work? (I think this matters a lot)
  • Have you written an article, recorded a video or shared your know-how with the wider industry?

“It's an unconventional list of behaviours but in totality it tells me a lot about the person and their character.”

Olga GusevaOlga Guseva, managing partner, Integria Consult

“You need to be a successful CX professional and a successful leader at the same time. The CXPA defines 6 core competencies that builds successful CX ‘experts’: The ability to see the big picture with competence in customer-centric culture and strategy; the ability to work with inputs and validate your customer data; a working knowledge of both commercial and CX metrics, and an ability to make changes to ensure an organisational adoption and accountability of the work you’re doing. 

“But being a successful CX leader means much more than just being a successful CX expert – customer experience leader should be able to inspire the team and the whole company for the changes, build a connection between personal interests and needs of the employees and company goals and go along this path together as a team.”

Mosun ShasoreMosun Shasore, strategy & learning resource & customer experience, Quramo Advisory

Resistance to change and power struggles occur in many organisations and are often obstacles to making CX transformation progress.

For this reason, three important areas that a CX leader should seek to strengthen are:

  • the ability to understand group dynamics and coordinate efforts across business units;
  • observational skills and the ability to distinguish symptoms from root causes; and
  • the ability to plan and effectively manage resources.

Stefan OsthausStefan Osthaus, CEO, Experience5

“A successful CX leader orchestrates the customer-centricity activities within an organisation just like the conductor of an orchestra: They determine what’s being played – customer centricity; they make sure everyone plays off the same sheet of music – the agreed tools and methods; and they let each player be their very own best – leaving the responsibility for action in the business units and countries of an organisation.

“Customer experience is an attitude, not a department!”

Anita SiassiosAnita Siassios, managing director, ManagingCX

“For me, there are three key points to have in mind:

  • A great CX leader has the ability to establish great relationships and networks across functions to effectively make an impact. 
  • A great CX leader has the ability to articulate how CX links to return on investment, and works with senior leaders in helping them understand their role in driving impactful change.  
  • A great CX leader continuously nurtures and creates a culture where the customer is always ‘top of mind’, even when no one is watching!

Colin ShawColin Shaw, CEO and founder, Beyond Philosophy 

“Being in a CX role is about a willingness to learn and think differently. I love the Einstein quote:

‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

"This means that you have to be willing to learn new things, and importantly apply this new thinking. Challenge the status quo – this may not make you popular, but it is 100% necessary. Another quote I like that sums this up is ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg’. Just be careful of the eggs you break!

"Tenacity is always a fundamental trait of being a CX leader. You need to be like the Borg from Star Trek:  ‘Resistance is futile!’"

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