Recently, I was asked to help a client interview for their newly created Director of Customer Experience (CX) position. They had several strong candidates with many years of experience managing Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs. So, how does one differentiate?

Characteristics of a CX Leader

As a supplier, we have the opportunity to engage with a diverse set of client-side leaders. We work with individuals ranging from analysts and researchers to leaders in operations, marketing and the growing area of Chief Customer Officer. When I think about the different clients who move the needle and ultimately influence the way their customers experience their company’s products and services, a few select characteristics come to mind. Here are some of the top skill sets of these leaders:

  • Organizational Knowledge – Successful CX leaders understand how every part of the organization works together to deliver the customer experience. They’ve built relationships across departments and have the ability to influence strategy. They tie their CX mission to the overall corporate vision.
  • Creativity / Open to Change & New Ideas – Inquisitiveness is critical to establishing and evolving a healthy CX system that grows with the business. Successful CX leaders look for opportunities to get new ideas from other industries, emerging areas of their service offering, and new channels to capture feedback from customers.
  • Good Communicators – Strong CX leaders advocate for their clients across the organization. This requires translating the needs and frustrations of customers into persuasive language that motivates different areas of the organization to change. Good communication also requires the leader to be a good listener. Listening to the customer as well as the hard and soft boundaries of the organization is key to understanding how to influence change.
  • Focus on the Organization’s Business Strategy & the Ability to Use Data to Support that Strategy – Day to day activities require detailed attention and analysis of data while simultaneously understanding macro-level issues influencing their business. The CX leaders who remain focused on the organization’s strategy and showcase the ROI for their efforts are most likely to have the ability to influence change across the organization.
  • Comfort with Data and Technology – Not all CX leaders can be described as ‘tech-savvy,’ but they understand the bounds of what can and can’t be done with technology within their organization, and they aren’t afraid to pursue an initiative that will require being hands-on or navigating the use of their IT department.

Allow Time for Relationship Building

Our client who was interviewing for the newly created Director of CX position did not have any internal candidates. However, they were willing to invest time to allow the new hire to build relationships with major organizational stakeholders. At the end of the process, they found a strong candidate with a blend of skills that will make the launch of their new Voice of the Customer program successful. She has the right mix of communication and technical skills combined with experience building a VoC program from scratch. While she still has organizational learning to acquire, her practical, ‘get it done’ attitude fits with the organization’s culture.