To win on CX, you need a team. Erin Wallace, CCXP, director at NPSx in the Americas, explains how to structure and support CX within your organization. Spoiler alert: It’s not for the faint of heart.
If brands are serious about using customer experience (CX) as a differentiator, they need to build effective CX teams.
CX teams drive business impact. Their work shows up on scorecards in revenue and retention figures, among other key metrics the whole company can rally around. Staff work across the organization and processes to put CX at the center of every decision.
But it’s not always clear where the CX team belongs.
CX doesn’t have a functional counterpart (like finance or marketing), so there’s no template for how to organize CX. Companies may not know how to staff a CX team, who should lead it, or how to resource it.
Let’s break it down.
It pays to focus on customer experience and retention. Increasing customer loyalty by 5% can lead to profitability growth of 25-95% (Bain). Add to the mix that new customer acquisition costs have increased by almost 50% over the last five years (HubSpot), and it's easy to see the value in getting serious about customer experience and retention.
What is a CX team?
Organizations need people with the capacity and capabilities to apply customer sentiment and feedback toward measurable business impacts and revenue-generating strategies.
CX teams strategize along the entire customer journey to anticipate needs and prevent problems from occurring. Their purview begins early in the decision-making process and continues through purchase, product use, payments, financing, and service.
CX takes a holistic view of customers and coordinates multiple touchpoints across the customer journey.
What are the objectives of a CX team?
CX teams are expected to improve net revenue retention and earn new revenue by increasing customer loyalty, share of wallet, and referrals.
To inform their work, CX teams are often responsible for voice of the customer (VOC) programs and other feedback or survey mechanisms, like NPS. Those are tools of the job – they are not the job.
A CX team’s objective is to look at the business through the lens of the customer. At the executive level, CX officers define the vision for customer-related functions like sales, marketing, innovation and product. CX executives are also responsible for executive collaboration, cultural transformation to support CX, and innovation leadership. They establish strategic initiatives to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and to lower customer effort.
CX teams execute on the strategic roadmap, often working across functions. They identify key pain points in the customer journey (using tools like VOC and NPS) and ensure agile teams are formed to drive resolutions.
CX teams also help organizations understand their customers better. With deeper customer insight, companies can prioritize the most profitable customer segments, uncover unmet needs, and enhance products and services to delight customers.
What makes a "good" CX team?
A good CX team is open-minded, collaborative and influential.
CX teams have to maintain a customer-centric view, without losing sight of the business impact. They need to develop customer-focused solutions in partnership with the business, which requires creativity and trust. And they need the authority to lead change, monitor results, and change tack as necessary.
Good CX teams are also disciplined. They are always translating the voice of the customer into the voice of the business. They cannot lose sight of either and be effective.
How to support a CX team
CX teams need executive support. That doesn’t mean CX has to hold an executive role.
In customer-centric organizations, every member of the C-suite, regardless of title, is responsible for CX. If executives are highly aligned on the value of CX and it becomes part of the company’s DNA, then the CX team can take any seat in the organization.
Good CX teams also have organizational accountability and the authority to influence decisions. Those two factors need to be in alignment: CX teams cannot be held responsible for outcomes they can’t influence.
To drive innovation and growth CX leaders need deep experience and knowledge about the business, its value proposition, and the way things work today. CX teams also need:
- Data and analytics skills. CX teams need access to customer insights, as well as financial and operational data, to measure and predict customer sentiment and evaluate the ROI of tactics and operational changes.
- Human-centered design thinking. Customer needs, requirements, behaviors, and experiences are at the center of every CX solution.
- Change management skills. CX teams need to be effective project managers and collaborators with cross-functional influence. Companies often underestimate the amount of effort it takes to build and sustain new behaviors, processes, systems, and rewards.
How to support a CX team
A customer metric should be on every C-suite’s scorecard – even if CX doesn’t have a seat at the table.
Churn, net revenue retention, and earned growth are all financial measures that speak to CX (and that the C-suite should care deeply about). At the customer level, companies can look at revenue growth per customer, market share, or share of wallet to evaluate CX. NPS and customer satisfaction scores, customer loyalty, and customer effort are other common KPIs for CX teams.
Employee engagement is an additional way to evaluate whether CX is embedded in the organizational mindset. Are people “walking the talk?”
You can also look at capabilities, processes, and technology. To what degree do they support CX? Or were they influenced by CX? Customer-centric companies build capabilities and products through the customer lens. Look for evidence that CX and customer-centered perspectives are driving maturity.
How to build a CX team
Before you assemble a CX team, take stock of two things:
- Outside-in: How does your company perform on CX relative to key competitors?
- Internally: What CX capabilities does your organization have today?
From there, you can set a north star vision for CX – and see how far you have to go. These two perspectives inform the amount of change (and resources) required to reach the desired state.
Organizations need to assess their capabilities and shortcomings against their goals before they assemble a team. They also need to agree on the pace and scale of change the organization can handle – both from a change management perspective and a budget perspective.
These assessments should be part of a corporate strategic planning cycle. CX transformation is a long-term play, made stronger by capabilities and insights that grow over time.
Before you begin, make sure you have the fortitude to invest in talent, technology, and capabilities to build an effective CX team. Becoming customer centric is not for the faint of heart. But it’s worth it.
- Great CX Leaders Place Customers Ahead of the Profit Imperative
- CX Goes Hand-in-Hand with Employee Engagement
- Building a customer-centric organization? Embrace 4 key leadership behaviors