Most senior executives say Customer Experience is central to achieving their strategic priorities, but why do so many programmes fail to deliver on their promise?

The answer often lies in a lack of senior leadership championing the CX programme, particularly after it has launched. Once the novelty has worn off, the new programme and priorities change and leaders too often move on to the next urgent challenge. Their teams are left to continue managing and optimising the CX programme, often facing an uphill battle to continue the momentum the programme previously had.

Frankly, this is a mistake. When senior leaders move on to other areas of focus, with them goes control of investments, influence on what are seen as business priorities, and ultimately, the power to dictate how teams undertake their roles in delivering the Customer Experience. Without the buy-in and ongoing commitment from senior leaders, CX engagement programmes are doomed to fail.

Staff engagement is also part of the picture. Most customer-facing staff don’t start their day wanting to deliver poor Customer Experience. Typically it’s the processes or technology sitting behind their day-to-day working lives that prevent staff from delivering experiences that companies really want their customers to have.

This handicap drives staff disengagement and cynicism towards CX programmes. It is our view that senior leaders are the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to engaging the organisation. Without senior leader commitment, there is little chance that the rest of the organisation will be convinced of the importance of CX.

Here are three ways to get the best from senior leadership and help CX programmes deliver on their promise of increased profitability and differentiation.

Firstly, senior leaders need to be convinced of the value (financial and otherwise). Business leaders understand that happy customers lead to happy shareholders. Putting a financial value on CX gives senior leaders the tools they need to really understand the impact of CX, make educated decisions, and track outcomes for both the customer and the business. 

Secondly, make them accountable – the buck needs to stop at the top. The most successful projects we’ve worked on had senior leaders personally responsible for CX performance. It may be controversial, but tying compensation to CX performance is a growing trend and the leadership team is a logical place to start.

The third suggestion is to lock in ongoing commitment. Effective ways to achieve this include leaders frequently communicating their support across the organisation and calling customers to discuss their feedback.

It is our experience that CX programmes with ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ levels of engagement from senior leaders inevitably fizzle out and fail. Is your CX programme destined to have the same fate?

Rollo Grayson is Senior Manager – Customer Experience Activation with Kantar TNS.


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