When it comes to kicking off a customer experience redesign, the critical nature of C-suite sponsorship is akin to table stakes. Across a handful of “customer experience readiness assessments,” leadership’s understanding, support of and commitment to customer experience initiatives are usually positioned as “must haves” to begin the process.
One client recently told us that the head of (another) leading customer experience consultancy declined to take on experience transformation projects that didn’t have full CEO support.
Frankly, we were surprised.
While it would be poor advice to suggest that an organization could ever effect meaningful, cross-enterprise customer experience transformation without top-down support, not all CEOs — in fact, most that we’ve encountered — are willing to embark on such a potentially disruptive undertaking without a highly compelling “proof-of-concept” and defensible business case behind it first.
A key component of customer experience strategy includes determining a cost-to-value ratio, and then justifying or building a case for making changes to existing systems. In other words, this must be asked…and answered…across multiple areas of the organization: “Will the benefits of improving customer experience significantly exceed the costs/investments of making the improvements?”
The fact is, change is hard. And it’s easier for an executive to champion change when they have the right ammunition. Usually, this includes voice-of-the-customer research combined with a business case that supports the rationale for investing on a broader scale. And a roadmap to guide the process. In MCorp’s experience, the answers to these questions are arrived at gradually; often one market segment or business unit — sometimes even one touchpoint — at a time.
Collecting and making sense of this critical data is usually championed by groups and individuals within an organization who understand the importance of creating the right customer experience. They’re the ones willing to invest time and resources and guidance — to a point — to help prove a potential new strategy.
We’ve found that these smaller groups are highly effective at building the case and consensus for customer experience as a broader initiative within their organizations. Often championed and funded by mid-level executives, and occasionally cross-functional in nature, they help focus initial efforts on business units or processes where issues or insight gaps exist that experience-related research, strategy and consulting can help address.
I’ve said that customer experience isn’t the responsibility of any one group, and it’s not. The C-suite does need to be on board at some point. And it would be great if every company considering this process was ready to address customer experience from the inside-out, the outside-in, and from the top-down. As a consumer and as a consultant, I’d be thrilled. But most companies simply aren’t ready to make this “leap” without taking carefully planned and closely monitored baby steps first. And they shouldn’t.