Governance doesn’t get much airtime in customer experience management conversations and writings. It’s not as exciting and it’s harder to wrap your mind around than customer engagement and VoC (voice-of-the-customer) and CX (customer experience) technologies. Just what is it, anyway?
The Business Dictionary clarifies governance as “establishment of policies, and continuous monitoring of their proper implementation, by the members of the governing body of an organization. It includes the mechanisms required to balance the powers of the members (with the associated accountability), and their primary duty of enhancing the prosperity and validity of the organization.” To summarize as it applies to CX management:
- The company leaders establish and monitor CX policies.
- People are empowered and accountable to drive CX success.
- Mechanisms are put in place to drive CX contribution to the company’s validity and prosperity.
Customer experience governance is essential to ongoing success, especially in terms of enduring CX ROI (return on investment). It’s the “glue” that holds all the pieces together, the standards, and most importantly, the mojo of CX progress.
Here are 3 keys to getting it right: CXM infrastructure, CX champions, and CX momentum.
1. CXM Infrastructure: An organization accomplishes precisely what it is designed to do. Organizational design must support — not stand in the way of — CX excellence goals.
DO THIS: Define the structure, roles, and processes for CX facilitation at the beginning of your whole effort, and before deploying any tool, technology, or process. Create processes for CX excellence facilitation and set expectations across the organization for involvement and follow-through. Set up processes to coordinate the managers of the various CX management endeavors across the company: VoC, customer references, retention, escalation, business intelligence, front-line management, UX (user experience), and so on. Work through existing structure, roles and processes as much as possible, weaving CX facilitation into your organization’s fabric. Set standards of performance and determine how you will balance strategic and tactical needs of CX management oversight.
NOT THAT: Do not wait until something gets rolling for a while to start thinking about governance of it. Upfront planning will pay exponentially in comparison to shoring up support and sorting out processes retroactively. Even a pilot (test case) should incorporate planning for follow-through. Don’t silo-ize CX management, especially not at the start! Broad-brush consistency organizationally and with processes and analyses will help you see the opportunities for synergy and meeting bigger opportunities for cost savings and revenue growth.
Don’t forget about those you rely upon: suppliers, alliance partners, channel partners, distributors, and so forth. Create processes that build their consciousness of customers’ realities and what they need to do toward your CX excellence goals.
2. CX Champions: Localized ownership of CX success, deeply and broadly across employees, is key to making customer experience excellence a way of life in your company. (And that’s more cost-effective than investing in remedial efforts to make up for what wasn’t done right the first time.)
DO THIS: Set up C-team customer experience leadership roles and processes. Determine selection criteria for CX champions in every business unit, region and functional area. Make CX championing a significant part of their other duties, and strengthen their skills for facilitation, story-telling, and influence. Teach champions how to motivate action on root cause issue resolution. Enable grass-roots ideas for CX improvement and innovation to be piloted by CX leaders. And wallpaper employees’ world with customer-centered messaging and opportunities.
NOT THAT: Don’t assign CX management to a department or rely on tribal knowledge. Avoid underestimating the dynamic skill set needed to influence others without authority over them, and to drive progress over the long haul. Refrain from keeping CX champions separate from active roles specific to their organization. Don’t assume executive sponsors automatically know how to be effective in their role. If you can see that the company’s money comes from customers’ choices to do business with you, then don’t give CX championing short-shrift!
This is especially important in appointing an overall leader who should work with the C-team as their agent for facilitating all CX management. Warm bodies, bright minds, or a stellar specialized career path might initially seem like a good fit for this role, but you’re better off to appoint someone who already knows a lot about CX, holistically (not siloed), and who has a rich career background in overall business management, process improvement methods, systems thinking, change management, and driving momentum in large initiatives through influence.
3. CX Momentum: Keep executives and employees motivated to see their jobs in a customer-centered context, and to actively contribute to the company’s CX excellence goals.
DO THIS: Establish accountability processes for CX excellence. Involve executives in reviewing and providing constructive feedback to teams’ strides in improving CX. Create closed-loop processes for issue originators to prevent recurrence, and drive action and closed-loop communication to resolve customer issues systemically. Incentivize cross-organizational collaboration for customer experience breakthroughs. Enable grass-roots ideas for customer experience improvement and innovation to be piloted by CX leaders. Set up organizational learning capabilities for customer experience excellence.
NOT THAT: Don’t rely on the HR department to do all this: their career background and frame of reference usually make this assignment a stretch. Instead, create collaborative arrangements between your CX leader and various HR leaders to re-work what’s already going on from a customer-centered perspective. Don’t resort to escalation and shaming rather than prevention and organizational learning. Refrain from touting heroes and retroactive heroics, in favor of rewarding cross-organizational collaboration and teams’ proactive achievements. Don’t create busy-work for employees for the sake of “engaging” them. Instead, make sure employee engagement contributes to CX excellence in terms of making improvements and using creativity for novel ways to increase mutual value for the company and customers.
Customer experience governance is one of the FIRST things you should tackle in setting up your CX endeavors — or overhauling them, or updating them for the new fiscal year or quarter. It’s actually a quite exciting component of CX management, one that requires a lot of strategic thinking and creative solutions.
- Customer Experience Governance is part of Organizational Adoption and Accountability, one of the six domains in the body of knowledge advocated by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). (ClearAction offers a CCXP Exam Prep Course.)
- The concept of “Do This, Not That” is borrowed from the popular book “Eat This, Not That“, where the weaknesses of common practices and myths are brought to light and sensible replacements are recommended.
Image purchased under license from Shutterstock.
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