Hank Brigman has many years of experience sharing methodologies, tips and best practices on customer service. This is part of a series he’s shared with Desk.com from his upcoming book TOUCHPOiNT Power.
So many organizations start out with the best of intentions when it comes to their customer experience management efforts. Many trip over unforeseen organizational challenges in their efforts to become customer centric and not just say they are. In the new world of social media, becoming customer centric will pay huge dividends in creating customer evangelists and great word-of-mouth.
To solve any weakness in your company’s management of the customer experience, you need to determine what the customer’s experience actually is. A good first step is to assess or audit where your organization stands — in its current state. In this step, you’ll conduct a customer-centricity assessment.
Develop the experience strategy and management plan
A key purpose of the customer centric assessment step is to establish a foundation for developing the experience strategy and customer experience management plan. Both will be developed based on a thorough knowledge of the current state gleaned during the assessment.
Maximizing CEM success involves five organizational success factors:
- Political acumen
Independence: An overarching strategy
First, CEM shouldn’t be owned by any one department. Customer journeys traverse departments and CEM needs to have line of sight to the entire journey and deal on equal footing with all of the departments along customer journeys. If CEM resides within one of the departments, it hinders success and collaboration. CEM should reside as a stand-alone function.
Support: You need it from the top
Your CEO needs to be involved with CEM. Independence and support is best represented by a direct reporting relationship to the chief executive who not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. IBM in-depth interviews with hundreds of business executives around the world found:
- “Top-down, ongoing support of senior executives and clear links to overall corporate goals” was one of the most critical factors that differentiated successful initiatives
- Nearly three out of four companies designate ownership of CEM initiatives with sales, marketing, IT or some other department
- Only a quarter of firms assign it to a corporate-level team
- If CEM is owned at the corporate level it has a 25-50% percent greater chance of success From “Q&A with Don Peppers and Martha Rogers: Measuring Customer Value Can Be More Important than Measuring Revenue;” CRM Project Vol. 6, by Don Pepper, Martha Rogers, Peppers & Rogers Group
Resources: Money talks
Positioning is important. Your CEM group, department or team should be positioned as being there to help others succeed. You’ll get problems if the team is viewed as adding work or requiring or expecting significant efforts from others. The team needs to focus on how it can help those working along the customer journey improve their customer touchpoints and infrastructure, making their work life better.
To aid its position as a helper, the CEM team needs resources with which to work. The team will be embraced if it can bring people and/or budget to contribute to facilitating improvements.
Expertise and acumen: Knowing what and how
Lastly, CEM success needs both CEM expertise and political acumen. CEM expertise is knowing what to do to succeed. Political acumen is knowing how best to get it done in the organization.
There are three options to combine expertise and acumen:
- CEM expertise in-house with strong political mentors and advisors
- Tenured in-house personnel in CEM positions with external CEM expertise engaged on an ongoing basis as a coach and/or consultant/vendor
- Mix of CEM expertise and tenured professionals on the in-house team plus some external expertise hired as/if needed
Each of the three options can work. The key is that you have large and ongoing doses of both CEM expertise and internal political acumen. To maximize success, set CEM efforts up independent of other departments and provide solid leadership support, resources, expertise and acumen.
Don’t rush blindly into committing to customer centricity just to say that you did. Be careful, analyze your customer service and support functions as you would any other business asset.