Where Should CX Sit at the Table?

Before we begin talking about where CX should sit in the organization, I want to clarify one thing. Customer Experience is not a single person. 

A company cannot hire one customer experience professional and expect that in a year that company will have a customer-centric corporate culture in place. CX also is not a team that has no visibility and no budget. No one has ever heard of a business successful transformation without extensive change management implications done and without vision and strategy. CX requires individuals and teams with cross functional workshops, new products and processes and heavy communications across the organization.

A CX team needs the leadership support to deliver all of those to the brand and the organization. So where in the organization should CX sit? Leadership teams across industries and geographies are trying different suboptimal approaches.

IT

Last year a non-profit health insurance company in New York approached me to ask for feedback on their CX set up. They were planning to set the CX team under the CIO. Since the corporate staff was not big, the role of CX would have been fairly elevated. Still, I advised against that organizational structure.

A customer experience transformation cannot be led by IT for several reasons. Although the world today is more and more digital, brands still are in the business of making the human, long lasting connection with the customers that will drive more sales. Our IT partners are excellent at executing a program and can definitely help with the UX part of the job, but they are not marketers or operators.  Asking IT to drive CX is just not the right choice. There is no doubt that CX cannot exist without IT. But that does not mean IT needs to lead it.

Marketing

Marketing (or in some organizations “product”) is the most common set up for CX in brands’ corporate organizations. Media and consumer goods companies usually take this approach.  At first look it makes sense to set CX in marketing. After all the purpose of CX is to deliver on the brand promises made by marketing.

This could almost work if brands did not bury my CX peers deep down in the organization so they turn into journey mapping documentation gatherers with no real impact. One fast food brand in Europe actually had the role of Head of Brand Engagement under the CMO and then had four other leaders reporting to that role, one of which was the CX Director. That CX Director was competing with the other three directors with similar roles for a piece of the authority pie.  This is equivalent to giving somebody a problem to solve with no tools to do so.

HR

One Financial Services institution in the US had arguably the least impactful set up. They actually put CX under HR! Please, do not mix customer experience with HR. I know that we all talk about the importance of employee engagement to the successful delivery of exceptional brand experiences. Although happy employees and customer-centric culture are requirements for a CX driven organization, CX is much more than that.

For a CX group to have impact and drive change, it needs to be in the customer facing part of the organization. The CX professionals need access to the customer to learn what is working and what is not. They need access to the operations to change processes and procedures. Lastly, CX professionals need tools like IT and Marketing to deliver new solutions and communicate those solutions to the customer. HR offers none of those enablers to a CX transformation.

Customer Experience

An organization that is really committed to putting the customer at its center will build (reorg) the governance structure to reflect that commitment. That means having a Customer Experience Executive that has all the customer facing divisions under him/her and funding this organization appropriately.

If that means taking funding from other parts of the organization, so be it. As a brand this signals to both the investors and the employees that a real shift of the corporate mindset is taking place. With that set up, customers also will feel the change and will reciprocate with their loyalty. To do CX right, that is the way to do it – not by hiring one person buried in the org with no seat at the table, just to check off a mark.

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

How to Sell the C-Suite on Customer Experience

You finally got your big career break and you are leading a project that requires executive approval. Now what? Intuitively you know that this is a chance to make a first impression on the right people, but you have no idea how to approach this process. There is no set procedure and your leader can be good or bad at this, so going to your boss might not be the first right step. Where do you begin?

Overcommunicate – Know your audience

Begin by scheduling pre-briefings with each individual executive. Do not forget the Chief Counsel or the Chief HR Executive. When it comes to the Exec Crew, every function weighs equally. You never know who might help (or block) your business case. If you are asking for millions of dollars to build CX expertise in the enterprise, or to finally connect underlying systems that yield bad customer experience, you might find that the Chief HR executive is so passionate about customer experience that he/she is the loudest voice in the room.

Your job does not end here. You also need to assess the political capital of each executive. Who has been on the team the longest? Who has the strongest ties to the Board of Directors? The networking power of leaders can be stronger than the hierarchy of power.  It is invisible, but it cannot be underestimated.

Nothing is decided in the executive meeting/board room

The moment you realize this you will increase your success of obtaining funding for CX initiatives. You also will realize how much more work you have ahead of you to put the CX roadmap on your organization’s priority list.

The executive meeting is the ink meeting. It is the show. The real approvals and conversations that you need take place before that meeting. If these conversations do not take place, nothing gets approved. Many times, I have peers bring business cases to the executive committee without “pre-socializing” them. In the meeting, they are asked various business and political questions that they are unable to answer and nothing gets accomplished. The best case scenario is to get that approval “pushed” to the next meeting. One thing is for sure: no money or support is gained that day.

Cover all your bases

Never underestimate the power of the VPs and Directors. If you think you only need to sell CX to an executive to introduce the customer as a mindset, you are very wrong. The first thing a good Executive does is turn to his VPs and Directors and say “What do you think about this?” If you have not sold your agenda to them, the conversation is over.

Think of this work as an election campaign. Assess the benefits of each stakeholder or group in your organization. If there are losers in the landscape who, by design, will hurt, you need to acknowledge that every chance you get, in public. And you must thank them for sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

Have the keys to the gate

The Executive Assistants must be your friends. All. of. them. I know it is basic, but somehow, people still fail to follow this principle. Access is everything. Without it you have no voice, no audience. Take care of them every holiday season. Even without an occasion. Just do it.

Getting executive buy-in is not easy, but it is not an impossible task. Remember: think like a CX expert, know your Customer, personalize your message, and express empathy when you deliver your pitch. People want the same things, regardless of the setting – to be heard, considered and respected. Remember this, and design your approach accordingly.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Brand Image ROI

Two weeks ago we discussed the power of employee engagement for your brand and the true meaning and ROI of a working corporate culture. Today we will examine the business case of the engaged customer, the powerful brand image and the brand loyalty it generates – loyalty that drives repeat purchases, higher revenues and more engaged customers.
 
An engaged customer requires the investment of the ongoing conversation. The “conversation” dollars go to social media campaigns, closed-loop systems for customer feedback, and a responsive loyalty customer service, among other customer experience levers.
 
Invest in people as much as product
 
Two weeks ago, I received a complaint from a JetBlue customer. In order to keep the conversation going with this customer, I had to relay the information to the teams that were accountable for his experience and get back to him with a comprehensive and empathetic feedback about his experience. CX professionals call this close loop, but close loop is a policy. My taking the effort to connect with people across the organization and CARING to get answers is employee engagement on my part, and that is generated by our corporate culture.
 
This culture is what maintains customer engagement and, which, as a result will create an ancillary purchase in the future. Often, people and service are more important than the product of an organization.  People and service build an organization’s brand image when customers interact with the brand. Customer experience relies more on human interactions with the brand than on the technology that enables those interactions.
 
Empathy and Innovation
 
Magazine Luiza is another great example of impacting ancillary sales and seeing a 35% ROI as a result of deliberate investment in empathy and innovation.  The Brazilian virtual store offers products on credit to the under-served customers in rural areas. Customers can see pictures of their desired products then go home and wait for the delivery in the next 48 hours.
 
To achieve loyalty and repeat business, Magazine Luiza also functions as community centers that offer free internet, literacy, cooking and basic banking classes. This investment contributed to the build out of a strong emotional connection between the brand and its audience, transforming Magazine Luiza into a powerful lifestyle brand to its customers. Even customers apprehensive of taking credit visit a place where a friendly face walks them through the experience of borrowing money while their child learns how to write for free.
 
The brand image of growth and development that come from the education components Magazine Luiza provides is, in a way, transferred to the “product” of buying on credit.  Once customers are empowered to buy on credit initially, they return to buy more things because each of those purchases makes them feel economically empowered.
 
Engaged customers are the blood of every business
 
Without engaged customers, business cannot grow. They provide the steady cashflow and the free cashflow that allow a business to invest in products and customer acquisition. The ROI of engaged customers lies in the growth of the organization and the incremental revenue that ensues. Depending on the growth stage of a particular organization, that ROI also can mean an organization’s survival.
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.
the customer experience effect jetblue liliana petrova

How Do You Know You Are Making The Right Big Bet?

In the last post for JetBlue’s Into the Blue blog series on customer experience lessons learned in 2017, Liliana Petrova and her guests explore different ways to envision the future so you can build it effectively.

“Don’t tie it to technology, tie it to an aspiration.” is the advice of Allegra Burnette, former Forrester consultant.

Liliana’s and JetBlue’s leap into the unknown is using micro-innovation and empathy to create consistent memorable experiences for the customer at every possible interaction while keeping in mind their true North Star.

Read more and watch the video.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Culture Is King – The Power Of Employee Engagement

In 2017 we introduced our ROI series recognizing the challenges all customer experience professionals have to obtain funding for CX initiatives and to prove their positive returns. Our second ROI post covered how a well built customer experience can increase revenue and customer growth of your organization. Today we will walk you through the positive impact customer experience has on employee engagement.
 
Great Culture is the Enabler of Great Service
 
Excellent corporate culture creates engaged employees who are proud of their company and make it a personal mission to deliver great experiences. Engaged employees love the brand they work for so much that they will go above and beyond to “convince” their customers to feel the same way. Actions like this transform employees from brand ambassadors to brand builders. When leadership takes the time to build and maintain an engaged workforce the impact is significant, and profitable.
 
Yet, if culture is of such high value to organizations, why do so few succeed in creating this kind of customer experience advantage for their organizations? Because it is hard, and expensive.
 
Let’s say your cultural values have FUN in them. How do people live that value at work? They celebrate holidays with social events, they go on interesting off-sites, they  have fun contests in the operation, etc. Each of these cultural artifacts of the fun value costs money. Most leaders will say they believe in the fun value; very few will approve the expenses for the discreet activities that maintain that value.  When companies grow, all those activities include the added expenses of travel in order to connect employee teams.
 
Culture is Not an HR Function
 
Culture cannot be achieved with all-hands meetings twice a year and a daily corporate communications email. Culture is a business strategy, a guiding principle that informs how product and service decisions are made. If, for instance, CARING is part of your corporate culture, there are several business decisions and practices you need to invest in to express that care (internal funds for supporting fellow employees during hurricanes, sponsor travel so senior leaders can visit front line employees to better understand their day-to-day challenges, willingness to walk away from a product enhancement that will benefit the customer but also make your front life processes more complex and hard to maintain).  Caring costs money. Real money. Caring is even more expensive than FUN.
 
Caring can save an organization. If you have a product that is not the market leader in terms of quality and you marry it with an engaged workforce that delivers exceptional service, you actually have a shot at keeping your position as the market leader. If you don’t, there is not much going on to motivate your customers return.
 
How Do You Quantify the ROI?
 
It is fair to say that all the people who returned to you after an exceptional service experience would not have done so without having received that exceptional service. Quantify the lifetime value of those customers, and that is how you calculate your customer experience ROI.
 
Culture is a Critical Corporate Mindset
 
People are hired for culture in the true sense of that expression. If transparent leadership and instilling employee trust are values for leaders, then the pay scales of the organization should not be locked for only selected people to see. Transparency is a big word that is often repeated, but transparency is rarely backed by actions like this.
 
If transparency is on a corporation’s values list, then that corporation’s leaders must be ready to be vulnerable and to be challenged by their employees. With the right mindset, this is not a difficult value to live. Being authentic and “walking the talk” can inspire more than any other corporate action can. Transparency and vulnerability is a challenging mindset for leaders, but it gets easier to practice over time, and it is worth the investment.
 
Generally speaking, employees want to (prefer to) respect their leaders. We all need hope, we need someone to look up to, something to keep us moving forward. Employees are much more forgiving and patient with their leaders than we think, so apply a brave mindset to lead wholeheartedly. Be seen and be prepared to have an organization follow you no matter where you lead through the culture you create and the actions that support it.
 
Successful brands have strong corporate cultures that drive their employees to consistently deliver memorable experiences. Culture is the most difficult ROI to prove. It is impossible to replicate, so it can be a competitive advantage. It can also be a deterrent to hostile takeovers and mergers. Having the freedom to grow organically while creating value for customers is the greatest return on investment any business can dream of. In that sense, the ROI of culture is the highest we will ever see.
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.
the customer experience effect jetblue liliana petrova

Keep The Customer In Focus For 2018

In her latest post for JetBlue’s Into the Blue blog series on customer experience lessons learned in 2017, our own Liliana Petrova explores how to combine innovation and knowledge of human behavior to keep the customer in focus at the same time CX professionals are developing new strategies.

Read more and watch the video.

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

 

the customer experience effect jetblue liliana petrova

What Did We Learn About CX In 2017?

In Post 2 of Liliana Petrova’s series on CX lessons learned and best practices for the new year on JetBlue, she explores the importance of “keeping the human touch” when implementing CX innovation tools.

Head over to Into the Blue, the JetBlue blog, to learn how to keep the human touch, and create better human connections.

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

 

the customer experience effect jetblue liliana petrova

What Will CX Look Like in 2018?

The JetBlue blog features Liliana Petrova in a new four-part series on Customer Experience that collects the 2017 customer experience lessons learned and charts the course for customer experience that delivers technology solutions in new and innovative ways in 2018.

Read Part 1 of the series and join us for more, over the next four weeks as we prepare for the new year.

Image courtesy of JetBlue

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Liliana Petrova

From Pain Points to Magical Moments: Transform the Customer Experience

Argyle Journal recently interviewed customer experience professional (and Doing CX Right writer) Liliana Petrova about emerging self service technology and meeting and exceeding customer expectations in airports.

Liliana brings out a point that is integral to all technology-based customer experience solutions, namely that “[w]e want to create something that feels like magic, without breaking any foundational rules.”

Of that magic and the quest to create it as part of customer experience, Liliana explains, “[i]f there is a way to create a seamless and invisible experience, we want to find a way to get there.”

Read more about how she and her team are working to do so.

Play the audio below to hear Liliana speak about the magical customer experience.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX Bold Moves: Uber Bets On Self-Driving Cars With Big Volvo Purchase

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the DoingCXRight CX Bold Moves stories.

For anyone brave enough to imagine the future it is clear that autonomous vehicles are coming and that the flying cars taxi chase of The Fifth Element will be a reality soon after. The question that remains unanswered is who will be part of the future of transportation. More and more players are claiming a stake in the multibillion market place, but like any innovation the odds of winning are 50%/50% until the industry gets mature enough for us to even see what it will be. So who are you betting on? Uber? Lyft? Yourself?

The Uber bet

Uber is going for the vertical integration – the whole pie. The future industry of urban transportation will be made of players in three different categories: cars, self-driving software, and ride-sharing network. With the #UberVolvo deal Uber made a stake in the cars part of the equation. They already have the ride sharing network and the in house research and development of self-driving software.

Every company struggles with the right balance of internal development vs. partnerships. There are pros and cons of either approach. The factors in the final decision are costs of maintaining the technology (capital vs. operating), level of customization available (much harder when the technology is built by a partner) and speed to market (depending on the staffing level of the internal teams the speed can be faster or slower if the R&D is internally driven). Uber is betting on taking all the risk and owning all parts of the autonomous vehicle ecosystem.

The Lyft bet

In contrast, Lyft approaches the future through partnerships. Their vision improving lives with the world’s best transportation inspires the creation of cities for people, not cars. In the last two years they have formed multiple partnerships with various small and big players in the new tech space. The choice of partners: Waymo, nuTonomy, Drive.ai (self-driving software) and the large direct investment by GM (cars), proves that Lyft plans to be an integral part of the autonomous vehicle solution (ride-sharing network), but not the whole technology stack.

Their strategy is much more tactical in nature. Lyft does not need to build the whole future of urban transportation. It suffices to be the bolt without which the system will not function. The success of this approach is founded on successful partnerships and is collaborative in nature.

The George Hotz belt

And if you still want to own a car in the future, the self-driving platform Openpilot and the Neo device may be the way to go. The Neo will transform your Honda or Acura into an autonomous vehicle that you can control with Openpilot. George Hotz’s company Comma.ai has activated users to share driving data to perfect the self-driving algorithms for the future by learning from drivers today. In his opinion “Self-driving cars need nothing but engineers in order to solve it.”

The approach to autonomous vehicles of Lyft is more congruent with the sharing nature of the future economy. Sharing is rooted in partnering and collaborating with others. The future generations are less likely to associate themselves with a conglomerate that monopolized the market space. It looks like Lyft, although a smaller player, does have the more sustainable strategy to autonomous vehicles. Then again, we are missing a big piece of the puzzle. We really do not know how the government will play in this space and if it will come up with regulatory obstacles that require a lot of funding to overcome.

Smart brands put equal time and energy in building partnerships with the government agencies. So far Uber is behind on that front too. Both Uber and Lyft are making bold moves in the autonomous vehicles space. The question is, who has the winning strategy?

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.