Customer Experience professionals often face a daunting task: getting executives to truly care about the customer experience. While executives often talk about customer experience and its importance to the business, sometimes their actions indicate that they do not identify with customers the way the CX team does.
With competing priorities around revenue growth, operational efficiencies, and innovation, customers are often an afterthought on the executive agenda.
Problem is, without customer experience taking up more real estate on the executive agenda, energies around transforming the experience will likely be wasted.
Customer Experience Ideas to Help You Get Started
To drive transformation the executive team needs to pay attention and to empathize as much as the CX Professional does, as we had briefly mentioned in our previous post, 3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Company and Culture Customer Centric. They need to feel and truly understand who their customers are and what it is to be a customer of their company. Below are three ideas CX professionals can adopt to try to gain executive attention on, and empathy for, the customer experience at your company.
One simple approach is to host an event where your executives spend time listening to customer calls or visiting your locations to observe customers interacting with staff. One of our large clients in the communications sector orchestrated an evening where the top 100 leaders across the company were paired up with contact center representatives for two hours to listen in to calls. In listening to one single mother struggling to work out a payment plan that would allow her to put food on the table for her kids while still having access to her communications services one executive pulled out his personal credit card and took care of her debt. Hearing the anxiety and personal struggles of this customer made her – and others like her – more human to an audience that up until then had thought of customers merely as account numbers.
Talk to Customers
Perhaps better than listening is establishing a program where executives call customers and ask them specific, open-ended questions about the company and their experience. One of our banking clients has a monthly ‘low tech’ listening program during which key executives in the retail banking division are given a short list of customers to call and a set of questions to probe on. This dialogue allows the executive to engage with the customer, really hear them and probe about their issues and needs. These insights and stories can then be brought back to the boardroom table – and to town hall and internal meetings – ensuring that what customers have to say is being heard by everyone.
Be a Customer
I remember a few years ago having the opportunity to hear a Customer Experience leader from Volkswagen give a talk on driving transformation around customer experience at his organization. He made a point that has stuck with me ever since. He said that no automobile executive has ever actually gone through the process of visiting a dealership, test driving a vehicle, going through the negotiation and financing process. They don’t have a clue what it’s like to travel their customers’ journey because they have been shielded from having to do so in all their years of driving company vehicles. How many other industries and companies do the same thing – either by design or by accident? What better way to get executives to understand the customer journey than to have them become a customer and experience it first hand.
Next post, we will talk about "Even More Creative Ideas to Gain Executive Attention." Have you got some good ideas about creating executive level attention and empathy for the customer experience?