Humans like rules — when they apply to someone else. But sometimes they’re necessary for us all; without them, even the best of intentions can fall apart.
When it comes to implementing customer experience (CX) capabilities in an organization, human nature and our ability to rationalize can torpedo a great theoretical plan. Everyone on the team may agree that a CX program is needed, but creating a framework that ensures consistent and systematic management of the CX plan frequently gets shunted to the side.
Governance planning isn’t sexy or fun, so when the subject comes up, the disclaimers and rationalizing start to fly:
“We need to keep this simple.”
“No one wants to be the CX police.”
“Let’s not get bogged down in details.”
“Can we figure that out later?”
The concept of a bottom-up approach to CX management is nice, but the fact is, it’s nearly impossible to sustain a customer experience mindset as an organizational discipline without clear guidelines.
Integrating customer perspectives into an organization’s decision-making process doesn’t just happen magically. Collecting the data takes discipline, and deciding how to translate data to action plans takes a deep commitment — both to bottom-line goals and to the bigger brand picture. CX is more than a philosophy. Done right, it’s a reality that affects employees’ roles, responsibilities and reward restructures. It has an impact on technology, processes and an organization’s overall investment of money, time and energy. And without a decision-making framework, opinion, gut and (gasp!) politics tend to take over the conversation and drive decisions … and no one wants their livelihood dictated by someone’s gut.
So whether you’re the owner of a business, head of CX oversight, COO or part of admin services, putting customer experience governance guidelines into place will ensure that your organization addresses CX in a methodical way.
Eight Keys To Effective Customer Experience Governance
Customer experience governance guidelines are like the bowling lane bumpers that kids use to keep their balls from going into the gutter: They’re the guidelines within which your people can thrive, your organization can adapt and change, and your CX capabilities will grow.
Whether your approach to CX listening, measurement and action is centralized or decentralized, is a hybrid model or is run by a CX committee, your governance program should be structured to have the authority to ensure the entire organization follows it. So before you even begin, make sure representatives from business, digital and, of course, customer experience all have a seat at the table.
Team assembled, here are eight things your CX governance plan needs to include to successfully meet your organization’s customer experience goals:
1. CX Strategy: Any good plan will articulate a "CX North Star," your customer experience strategy that defines customer expectations and how you will meet and exceed them in a manner that’s in sync with your business and brand strategies.
2. Prioritization: To avoid burning resources or running in circles, establish a framework for prioritizing the most customer-centric and/or business-relevant agendas around which to design and deliver great customer experiences.
3. Roles And Accountability: Clearly define who does what by assigning leadership, management and CX teams specific rights — and responsibilities — for delivering strategically relevant customer experiences.
4. Measures Of Success: Provide a structure for customer experience measurement, including agreement on what "success" is and the metrics to track and monitor performance.
5. Standards: Establish relevant standards — flexible, not too restrictive — for the consistent delivery of customer experience, including what must be followed and by whom.
6. Decision-Making Framework: Define the criteria for evaluating projects and allocating resources, as well as a way to filter decisions through CX criteria.
7. Defined Communications Cadence: Build out a cadence for CX-related education and communications — within teams, upward to leadership, across the organization and flowing out to customers.
8. Resourcing: Encourage the efficient use of human and financial resources by requiring accountability and stewardship of the resources needed to accomplish objectives.
Eating Your CX Vegetables
I get it. CX governance is the “eat your vegetables and exercise regularly” mantra of customer centricity. It may not be as much fun as running customer-thinking workshops, building customer journey maps or talking to customers, but without a governance framework in place to guide and prioritize decision-making, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to drive meaningful change within a business.
And, at heart, that’s what most businesses are trying to do: drive meaningful change via CX. Not just because a shift toward the customer is a good business decision (it is), but because your competitive marketspace is increasingly demanding that your decisions and business be built around customers.
So make sure your CX agenda is functioning with established policies, process monitoring and defined roles and responsibilities. Clear governance will keep CX pointed in the right direction and moving forward, rather than floundering and left to chance.
First appeared on Forbes, May 2019