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CX Pros and CEOs Must See Eye to Eye
When everyone shares the same perspective on customer experience, customers—and the business—win
For the rest of the September 2016 issue of CRM magazine please click here

Have you ever had someone explain something to you that made perfect sense to him, but left you befuddled? This situation is commonly referred to as the curse of knowledge—when a person knows a concept so well that it is hard for her to understand what it is like not to know it. Thus hampered, it becomes difficult for her to explain it to others.

This notion may be at work when it comes to the way customer experience (CX) professionals interact with company executives. Too often there is a gap between the perspective of CX professionals and that of today’s corporate leaders. It’s understandable—CX professionals are entrenched in the day-to-day tasks of monitoring customer behaviors and input; C-level executives see the big picture and care less about the details, but know positive customer experiences are critical to the company’s success.

Narrowing the gap between CX professionals and CEOs will lead to companies that are aligned strategically, deliver better customer experiences, and are more successful.

THE CX PERSPECTIVE

What do CX professionals think of their CEO’s connection to CX? More than 125 customer experience professionals at Walker’s CX Summit were asked three questions about their CEOs: (1) How customer-focused is your CEO? (2) How aware is your CEO of your CX initiatives? (3) How often does your CEO request information or advice from you or your CX team?

Everyone (100 percent) indicated their CEO was either somewhat or very customer-focused, and a strong majority (93 percent) indicated their CEO was very aware or somewhat aware of their initiatives. And yet, nearly 40 percent said their CEO rarely sought them out for information or advice. It left me scratching my head, wondering if CX professionals were providing insights that CEOs considered truly valuable.

THE CEO PERSPECTIVE

What do CEOs think of CX? Walker gathered input from more than 500 CEOs in its recent study “View From the Top.” Among the results were some interesting findings:

• CEOs recognize the benefits: When asked the best way to create a competitive advantage, they chose customer experience nearly two to one over other factors, including talent, pricing, efficiency, and product superiority.

• CEOs view customer experience as a holistic strategy—much more than a “program.” Customer experience is viewed as a way to compete more effectively to achieve growth in revenue, profit, and valuation of the company. In other words, it’s far more than just scores, ratings, and customer feedback.

• CEOs whose companies are effective at CX tend to focus on areas of growth and development, such as innovation and employee morale. Those considered to be less effective were more likely to focus on cost-cutting initiatives.

• CEOs from companies effective at CX claim ownership for the customer experience. What’s more, they tend to spread the responsibility throughout other functions, including service, marketing, and market research.

NARROWING THE GAP

CX professionals can benefit from understanding how their leaders view the impact and value of customer experience. Secure a strong connection to ensure that the full benefit of your work is realized; here are a few ways how:

Speak their language. CX professionals must do more than report satisfaction scores and customer ratings. CX initiatives must be linked to key company indicators such as growth, profit, and valuation.

Align CX with corporate strategies. Every executive has key strategies they are pursuing. Show how CX aligns with, and can enhance the executive’s ability to implement, those strategies.

Tie to innovation. Executives see product and service innovations as both a component of the customer experience and necessary for success. CX professionals can have an impact by looking for ways to collaborate with colleagues responsible for innovation.

Leverage analytics. Every executive wants to be a step ahead of the competition, yet CEOs rated their use of analytics relatively low. CX professionals can excel by effectively leveraging the use of predictive analytics to help their company anticipate current and future needs of customers.

CX professionals can be one of the most strategic resources in their organizations—if they can avoid the curse of knowledge, and narrow the perspective gap with senior management.

Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker, a leading customer experience consulting firm. You can read his blog at http://blog.walkerinfo.com/blog/engaging-the-enterprise. He can be reached at pgibbons@walkerinfo.com.

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