8 Questions to Assess Your CX Governance Structure


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Over the course of my time at Temkin Group/XM Institute, I authored two reports focused specifically on the make-up and functioning of the customer experience (CX) team and the surrounding governance structures to support the team’s efforts. Since that time, governance continues to be a popular topic amongst CX professionals who are always on the lookout for ways to make their team more effective as it works to catalyze change across the organization.

I recently came across this set of questions I originally drafted when working on my original CX blueprint report, which ended up on the “cutting room floor” of the report writing process. After looking at them with fresh eyes, they seem as applicable today as they were when I authored them about five or so years ago. I hope they offer you some food for thought as you consider your own CX team and the effectiveness of its governance structure to propel your CX success:

1. Does the CX reporting executive – the visible leader of the CX team – have the right positioning and influence with the organization’s senior leaders? Most CX core teams report to a primary executive, who represents the team at the highest levels of the organization, raising awareness and support of CX through those relationships. This role needs to be prioritized amongst the many hats he or she may wear for the organization. This leader needs to have frequent, regular interactions with senior executives and be an integral member of the management team. When positioned this way, this leader can provide critical information and analysis for the management team to make strategic and operational decisions with CX in mind. Ideally, he or she holds sway with senior executives and is able to build buy-in, change opinions, and clear obstacles with that group.

2. Does the CX core team have the right talent, appropriate budget, and access to resources it needs to meet expectations? The CX core team is the primary group of employees who are dedicated full-time to the day-to-day execution of the CX strategy. As an organization raises its CX maturity and the ad hoc CX team becomes permanent, it needs the right talent, budget, and resources to do its job. In terms of talent, members of this team are the internal subject matter experts on customer experience, voice of customer programs, and other capabilities needed to catalyze change around CX. They also need to have credibility with stakeholders at all levels of the organization. Team members need to possess or be mentored to gain the institutional wisdom in order to identify key influencers outside the visible chain of command and understand how work really gets done. When it comes to budget and resources: keep in mind, success will be limited if the team is forced to continuously tin cup for budget dollars or rely on “when I can get to it” assistance from others to drive CX efforts.

3. Is the CX strategy aligned with the organization’s strategic priorities? The CX core team must have a clear identity in the organization and its strategy should be strongly aligned with the organization’s top business and brand objectives. With this identity and alignment, the core team needs the power to work with others in the organization to enact changes, set metrics, and create accountability across the business for CX performance – accountability which is upheld by senior executives. The core team cannot be an isolated center of excellence or worse – the group no one in the organization really understands. It must be positioned as enablers of the organization’s success.

4. Does the CX steering committee serve as business partners to the CX core team? While it might be called different things in different organizations, the CX steering committee is the group of the most senior cross-functional leaders who affirm the CX team’s strategy, approve investments, and clear obstacles across the enterprise, as needed. This is the committee that the reporting executive works most closely with to shape and drive the CX vision and roadmap. This group cannot be one whose effort is isolated to periodic discussions or meetings. Steering committee members should invest the time and energy to understand the CX strategy and use available experience and operational data to make informed decisions about recommended actions and resource allocation. The steering committee should also offer insight to the CX core team on their respective business unit priorities and needs, while thinking and acting for the success of the enterprise. Their personal commitment cements their believability when communicating across the organization about the importance of CX and when holding their direct reports and teams accountable for CX action plans and performance.

5. Does the CX core team have access to the best representatives from the lines of business and functional groups to serve as members of the CX working group? The CX working group comes together under the guidance of the CX core team to collaborate on CX initiatives. Representing groups from across the organization, they are respected, visible change leaders who are able to align and motivate their respective functions to adopt behaviors and adapt processes to support CX. As the force partnering with the CX core team in leading change across the organization, the working group needs to be made up of the best representatives of the business – not the “best available right now.” Each member needs to be able to make CX commitments on behalf of his or her business unit or function and get the support needed from their leaders to reallocate other assignments to ensure members have capacity to fulfill their working group role. Personally, working group members need to eagerly convene, rather than be coerced to fill their designated roles. They take time to understand CX and act as allies when prioritizing CX actions collectively for the enterprise and helping to hold each other and their teams accountable for results.

6. Is the CX core team able to access or get involved in related internal processes and programs outside of their direct control? CX doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is important that the CX core team is able to engage with and provide input or expertise to product development, process improvement/six sigma, employee feedback processes, HR processes, and annual/strategic planning – to name a few possible places where their work may intersect. These same functions should strive for reciprocal engagement, reaching out and involving the right parts of the CX structure in their work when appropriate.

7. Is the CX core team actively supported through word and action by top leadership? While the primary connection with top leadership to the CX program is through the reporting executive and steering committee, there cannot be complete separation between executives and members of the core team itself. To start, leadership exposure for CX team members offers those employees personal recognition of their contributions, along with professional development and relationship building necessary for their ongoing growth and advancement. The top leaders of the organization do demonstrate their support in other ways, including acknowledging the core team’s contributions towards the progress being made, welcoming the opportunity to deliver CX messages on behalf of the core team to the organization, adapting their own behaviors to model what’s expected of the entire organization, and participating in other activities supporting the CX strategy.

8. Are employees engaged in the CX transformation? This might seem like a trick question when asked in relation to CX governance, but don’t be fooled. If CX information and action doesn’t reach beyond the CX governance elements, the organization will not change. Engaged employees are critical to sustainable CX success. Their input can provide helpful business context to customer experience data. Their improvement suggestions are based on their personal experiences working with customers every day within the organization’s current processes, systems, and tools. They must embrace the organization’s brand promises in order to keep them with customers. A primary focus for the CX core team should be to reach all employees to build and sustain a customer-centric culture.

Organizations are investing in maturing CX into an embedded discipline to transform their interactions with customers. To help achieve this ambition they are creating CX teams and governance structures to provide appropriate decision-making, alignment, and accountability around the various efforts to catalyze CX change. This is important because how an organization structures and leverages its CX governance model can help ignite initial momentum and overcome the inevitable inertia that happens inside organizations. I hope these questions help you think about and fine-tune your own CX governance so it better serves the CX progress you are striving for.

Aimee Lucas
I am a customer experience and employee engagement researcher, advisor, speaker, and trainer. I focus my work on guiding clients on how to optimize their employee and customer experience management programs, identifying and publishing EX and CX best practices, and shaping the future of experience management (XM). I have over 16 years of experience improving service delivery and transforming the customer experience through people development and process improvement initiatives.


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