customer experience teamIn sports, a great deal of thought goes into creating winning teams. Choosing the right players, getting everyone on the same page, practicing hand-offs and executing a clever playbook are how winning sports teams are created. In a recent #CXO tweet chat these same success factors were discussed as they apply to customer experience teams.

The Formation of World Class Customer Experience (CX) Teams
While formal CX management is a relatively new endeavor for many companies, the experience of customers has in fact been managed by various people all along. Account teams, customer service and accounts receivable departments, customer reference managers, market researchers and others throughout the company are a loose confederation of a CX team. Such a loose confederation would never fly in sports! As such, some companies have established a chief customer officer or a central CX team at the corporate and/or business unit level to facilitate customer focus and CX improvement across the organization.

Success Factors for CX Teams
Regardless of your company’s CX team structure, choosing the right players, getting everyone on the same page, practicing handoffs and executing a clever playbook are essential to world class customer experience teams. A study by ClearAction shows that coordination among managers of various aspects of CX is one of six success factors for holistic CX management and strong business results.

Yet, studies show that CX teams are, in fact, rarely endowed with this thoughtfulness,and executives are losing faith in the power of CX management to make a difference to their company’s financial health. Faith in CX teams can be revived and rewarded if management rethinks what they really need to be successful.

CX Team Dysfunction Affects the Customer Experience
Just as in sports, CX teams will thrive or struggle in accordance with the way they’re set up and managed. And, as in sports, dysfunctional teams result in poor experiences for stakeholders such as fans, customers, owners and the players themselves.

Participants in our online discussion observed that common causes of CX team dysfunction include:

Choosing the Right Players

  • Team doesn’t see themselves as a team — @stephaniethum
  • Some people simply don’t have the right “gene” for the role — @DebbieSzumylo
  • Building teams with a silo POV. Customers do not engage vertically; they engage horizontally — @stevemassi
  • Need to have team members with strong behavioral science backgrounds (psychology, sociology, etc) — @jameskobielus

Getting Everyone on the Same Page

  • Members are unclear of what Customer Experience means. Poor definition or scope — @MarkOrlan
  • Poorly defined and set vision, lack of clear direction — @JohnCockerill
  • Not spending time with customers or front line teams (driven by ego, opinion; not insight) — @OptimiseOrDie
  • Actually defining the experience they are striving to deliver. Too much subjectivity on “good service” — @SJAbbott

Practicing Hand-offs

  • No cohesiveness among the team, lack of communication — @lttlewys
  • Lack of common information availability — @padma8376
  • Lack of trust & consistency — @DebbieSzumylo
  • Teams must meet often to checkpoint key metric: “Are customers truly happy with us?” — @jameskobielus

Executing a Clever Playbook

  • Wrong metrics or being pushed to the wrong targets — @OptimiseOrDie
  • Orgs of all sizes are looking for the golden nugget in CX and neglect that it may be within training properly — @MichelFalcon
  • Too often the instructions is “Sell. Offer good service.” It should be “Create this experience.” — @SJAbbott
  • Customer experience is not a trend. If you’re in, you need to be in for long haul. All in. No halfway. No opt out. Dedication to greater cause @DebbieSzumylo

Making Your CX Team World-Class
In sports, world-class teams are cross-pollinated with diverse skills and views, seamless in their interactions and empowered to use wisdom in the heat of the moment. Here’s advice for enabling these characteristics among CX teams:

Cross-Pollinated CX Teams

  • Let them to listen to each other’s conversations — @alexloach
  • Create a Wiki or repository of all efforts to change/improve CX — @OptimiseOrDie
  • Make ALL employees who work on product spend at least 1 hour a month listening in at call centre — @OptimiseOrDie
  • Visit other companies, glue cross silo teams together — @OptimiseOrDie

Seamless CX Teams

  • Orgs need seamless integration of customer data across channels in hands of employees that need this data — @Natasha_D_G
  • Front line staff = “experience creators”; others are “experience enablers” — @MarkOrlan
  • Implement daily “huddles” — 15 minute “what’s going on in your world” every day — @DebbieSzumylo

Empowered CX Teams

  • Make sure parameters for decision making are clear — @stevemassi
  • Give agents/employees the tools and authority to make customer-centric decisions…and step away — @MarkOrlan
  • Don’t try to predict every experience with a policy. If your goals and vision are clear, trust the people you hire — @SJAbbott
  • Give them guidelines & practice in interpreting those guidelines. Then don’t punish them for occasional slip — @temafrank

Since sports teams are managed as businesses, could we benefit significantly by considering our businesses as sports team? After all, studies have shown that sports team-like coordination among the managers of various aspects of customer experience yields stronger business results.

We all want to win with customers. Let’s set up our CX teams for success.

Originally published on IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub.  The #CXOchat can be found at 

Photo purchased under license subscription from Shutterstock.

Related articles: