It’s a given that customer expectations have never been greater. Increasing recognition of this reality is a major driver of the increasing importance of customer experience in the boardroom. A hard right turn for many organizations, the mantra of “customer centricity” has become a critical strategic lens. But the reality is that becoming customer centric doesn’t happen overnight.
That’s because customer centricity is, as they say, a journey not a destination. And like any journey, your traveling companions and guides have a lot to do with how enjoyable and easy that journey is… which is why the “customer experience champions” in your organization are so important to designing, enabling and delivering the experiences required to acquire, keep, and engage your customers.
Here are nine customer experience best practices we’ve learned that can help the customer experience champions in your organization succeed. (And if you’re reading this, thanks for volunteering – your company needs you.)
- Have and Share a Vision: Know what – exactly – it means for your organization to be customer centric. As a champion, you’ll need to help articulate, communicate and get others to buy into this vision.
- Be Passionate: This role isn’t always an easy one. That’s why real passion for your customers and for customer experience is so important; because you’ll need to give your time, energy and heart to this effort – a tall order if you don’t have a burning desire to make it happen.
- Understand your customers: A deep understanding of your customers and their point-of-view is critical. What criteria do they use to assess your products, services and interactions? What’s important to them, and where are expectations met – or not?
- Represent your customers’ point-of-view: Being a customer experience champion means being a customer champion. You must represent them, their goals and their experience in internal discussions – and use your knowledge to drive others towards designing and delivering better experiences.
- Be a leader and a change agent: Change agents are responsible for leading others, serving as mentors and trainers to their colleagues and modeling customer-centric behavior. There is a lot that one person can accomplish, but it’s hard to “go the distance” unless everybody’s on board.
- Understand the Economics of CX. Customer experience is often looked at as a “soft” metric by those used to managing by P&L. It’s not – but you’ll need to prove it. This means mastering metrics related to loyalty - lifetime value, share of wallet, retention and others - and linking them back to customer experience.
- Overcome inertia: In many organizations, talk of customer experience leads to people saying things like “We already do that” or “We tried that, and it didn’t work.” Any meaningful project will have cynics and opponents - effective champions do not let that stop them. Don’t give up.
- Take action: Internal mission statements, meetings and workshops only go so far. Many a journey map ends life without ever driving change. As a champion, you’re the one responsible for making things happen that actually change the ways you interact with your customers.
- Get and share results: Time and again, we’ve seen that successful champions take the lead, build teams - and drive measurable results. Sharing them widely isn’t just an ego-driven exercise; success breeds success. When others see the value of putting the customer at the center of your business, they’ll want to do the same.
There are myriad qualities that customer experience champions exhibit and the nine above are among the most important – but no means exhaustive. So think of this list as a starting point to assess yourself, and others charged with driving your organization towards customer centricity.
The customer-focused employees who take on this role are expert at translating customer information to understanding, as well as being focused on (and ideally empowered to) driving your organization and your culture to better meet the needs of your customers with every experience, and at every stage of your relationship with them.
Most importantly, true customer experience champions won’t settle for anything less than putting your customer at the very center of your business, and keeping them there.