There are many formal definitions of customer experience methods, programs and activities. The simplest is a systematic approach to discover and improve areas where customer interact with a business, and that, when considered collectively, create an overall level of satisfaction, perceived value and engagement with a business.

A program is more than a tool used in an ad-hoc fashion to gather data and feedback. A program has several key elements:

Sound Business Strategy. A program of any size must begin with a strategic plan. Decide what the objectives of the program are and establish a realistic plan with ties to something tangible.

Ongoing Activity. A program will have components that are always on and not just a one-time project. By setting up the right elements you can keep customer insight flowing to the right people and ensure that the right actions are happening to improve CX every day.

Internal and External Branding. Even if your program is small, give it a name and a brand—treat it like a product. Many practitioners report that the single most important item related to their program success is the personal time they took to meet with key influencers to explain the objectives and solicit support.

Survey and Operations Data. CX programs need solid customer data and insight to drive the right decisions and improvements. Programs should compile existing data with customer feedback to create a consolidated and holistic view of the customer. The end result will be a newfound ability to connect with customer perceptions and behaviors to understand what your organization should do to improve.

Real Customer Insight. The whole point of gathering data is not to collect more data. The goal is to create usable insights that drive change. Build on the positive and be clear about what is driving the negative.

Relevant Business Stories. One of the most important attributes of the best program leaders is that they are good at telling a story with data. People respond to, and remember stories. The simplicity of a good story will help get the attention of everyone at the company.

Employee Empowerment. It doesn’t do much good to have great insights if you never share them with anyone. Share insights fast, in real-time, and make them relevant to the person receiving them.

Clear Financial Linkages. The best programs have one common element: they show the impact to revenue or other meaningful outcomes that matter to the company. Usually revenue is a valued outcome. Be creative, and get your finance team involved. If you can relate your program to the language of revenue your success will skyrocket.

Executive and Employee Engagement. The final key element of a program is broad buy-in from across the organization. Make sure your executive team and even board understand and support your goals—then, regularly report back on your progress, outcomes, and next steps. Help everyone understand what the program means to them and regularly share success stories from the field to highlight and reinforce engagement in the program.

Every business should have some way to monitor the customer experience. An automated CX program gathers data without manual intervention and produces the right kind of insights that will accelerate the success you desire.

Read more: The New Frontier in CX Programs