As a customer experience (CX) professional, you are probably allotted a headcount for your team. What do you do with it? Here are some tips on staffing young or maturing CX organizations to be sure you are delivering a customer experience for the record books.
Most organizations take a lean approach when investing in headcount for their customer experience (CX) programs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially for organizations just starting a CX initiative, it forces us CX practitioners to be selective and creative when building our teams.
Nevertheless, as the CX program matures, it’s wise to have a staffing strategy that will help you take it to the next level. That’s where we are at the B2B technology company for which I work, why we have created a new position—Director of Customer Engagement—and filled it with an experienced CX and marketing professional. Through that process, we’ve gained some fresh insights on how to staff a winning CX team.
1. Understand that EVERYONE in your organization is your team.
When I started my role as vice president of CX at our company, I enlisted senior executives in a cross-functional executive steering committee to guide the CX program. They enthusiastically signed on to be executive champions.
Two years later, we extended the call more deeply to have CX champions representative of each department. We launched a CX Catalyst Network made up of managers and other formal—or informal—department leaders with a passion for the customer. Each CX Catalyst contributes 20-25 percent of their time to CX activities. We’ve also worked to keep middle managers engaged in our CX program.
The theory behind these initiatives is just good common sense. If you invest too much into a centralized CX team, it’s easy for other employees to defer customer centricity to that team. “Someone else is handling that,” they might say. With a smaller centralized CX organization, everyone is more likely to feel ownership over the customer care effort.
At our company, we have CX champions across the organizational chart supporting my CX core team and proving this theory right. My team currently consists of myself as Vice President and Program Coordinator, a Customer Analytics Program Manager, a Director of Customer Engagement, two Customer Advocacy Program professionals, and a CX coordinator—and we’re all responsible for identifying and nurturing customer champions to advocate for our company.
2. Think outside the standard CX box.
A data analyst is an essential member of most core CX teams, and it’s certainly that way at our company. Our Customer Analytics Program Manager has a background in market research and helps us follow best practices in designing our global customer relationship survey to ensure we get good data. She designs additional surveys for multiple teams and regions, then gathers and analyzes the data to be sure we are all calculating customer satisfaction in the same way. She makes sure we have “a single version of the truth” that is invaluable to my work as a CX executive.
The other members of my core team aren’t so traditional. It was my boss Ryan Hollenbeck’s idea to have two CX staff members who are dedicated to customer advocacy join our crew. Ryan is Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, and one of the executive sponsors for Verint’s CX program. When he pitched the idea to me several years ago, it was so “outside the box” that it took me a while to see how these two rock-stars would fit into the work I do.
These two professionals help connect customers who are strong advocates of our solutions with prospects who are considering a specific product. They introduce customers to industry analysts to help them get a better understanding of how our solutions work in the real world. We even have customers who like to send out Twitter blasts about the good work we are doing, and these two pros bring them into our advocacy community, keeping communication and engagement consistent and reaching all those who need to hear from them.
It soon became clear that Ryan’s brainchild was a perfect complement to the work I do. The whole idea around customer experience is building champions, while the Customer Advocacy Program nurtures those champions by listening to them, connecting them to others and rewarding them for their loyalty to us. My team feeds theirs and vice versa, and with our new Director of Customer Engagement officially on board, we’ll find even newer, more innovative ways to benefit each other—bringing us to my third insight.
3. Go beyond a ‘find and fix’ mentality.
I recently attended the Gartner CX Leadership Council meeting where I had an opportunity to network with CX peers. A CX professional, previously from Disney, really brought home to me the importance of innovation in the work we do—indeed, the importance of staying one step ahead of our customers and implementing what they want before they tell us.
His example was clean bathrooms. He said he could devote all his energies into finding the reasons why customers reported on their surveys that the bathrooms weren’t clean, but even with super-clean bathrooms, his customer satisfaction scores can only go so high. “Where satisfaction scores really go up is where you have the cool ideas that customers don’t expect and that really enhance their experience,” he said.
Example: Disney’s FastPass app that keeps patrons from having to wait for hours at the attractions they want to visit. Not only has the program been an enormous CX success, but it also has been a revenue generator since patrons visit gift shops and restaurants rather than stand in line. The program was created not because customers asked for it, but because Disney’s CX team knew their customers well enough to understand what would delight them the most.
It’s that kind of innovation that I want our new Director of Customer Engagement to bring to our company. Our CX team has the analysis side covered. We’ve got the “find and fix” side covered, too, with the journey mapping we continually do and the internal channels we’ve developed to quickly solve customer frustration points. What was missing, as our CX organization matured, was an innovative thinker whose chief goal was to add those “surprise and delight” moments to the customer journey—the FastPasses, if you will.
In the Director’s job description, I included developing and delivering more opportunities for us to hear from our customers through webinars, conferences, an interview series, and other events to feature amazing stories about our customers’ success. This professional also will collaborate with leadership, sales, service, and marketing team members to identify new opportunities to deliver customer-focused events. It’s a relationship holder that every CX team needs, and every customer deserves.
Every CX Team is Different
I don’t know of any CX organization that fits a standard mold. When I started my work at my current company, one of my first priorities was to hire a customer communications person. As I got to know our company’s internal communications team, however, I realized they were so good at what they do that I could rely on them to handle my basic communications needs—and they have.
My staff design changed at that point, and it has evolved again to include a new team member whose job will be to innovate based on the customers’ stories they hear. Looking back, it’s exciting to see how we have grown this team of one to a full ‘six-piece band,’ working in concert with the broader organization to continually drive our customers’ success. I can’t wait to see what 2019 and beyond holds for us and our amazing customers. I’m looking forward to this new chapter in the life of our CX organization, and I wish you a successful New Year with yours.