How To Get The C-Suite Behind Your Customer Experience Initiative

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The customer experience is critical to succeeding in today’s hyper competitive landscape. However, it will almost always require cross departmental support from marketing and IT to sales and finance. Typically, this means that before a customer experience initiative can get off the ground you need buy-in from the entire C-suite.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to garner support from each corner of the c-suite.

CMO: Customer experience visionary

Of all the positions in the C-suite, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is arguably the most eager to strengthen the customer experience. After all, a stellar customer experience is essential to their goals of outreach, engagement and retention. The Digital Clarity Group pointed out that the CMO will bring a strong creative and strategic vision to the table, generating more momentum for the initiative overall. 

According to research from eConsultancy, 89 percent of consumers cite customer experience as a critical loyalty builder. With such vested interest in customer experience, marketing leaders will help generate enthusiasm and get a program off the ground. Of all C-level positions, the CMO also will be the most attuned to customer experience trends, and will be a key C-suite influencer.

VP of sales: The salesman

The VP of sales is constantly conversing with customers and therefore has significant clout over the customer experience. Ultimately responsible for increasing sales growth and profit, the VP of sales will be vital for a successful implementation of a customer experience program. Demonstrating how the customer experience will help them reach their sales targets is key. According to the Temkin Group, 92 percent of customers who rated their experience as very good were likely to repurchase from that company, compared to only 9 percent of customers who rated their experience as very poor. Furthermore, Gartner reported that, 89 percent of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016. This means that the customer experience will be critical to future sales and continue to have a bigger and bigger impact on the sales cycle.

CIO: Tech gateway

In a digital world, customer-centricity is powered by technology, and executive leadership is vital to ensure that any investments and strategic efforts are aligned with the company's existing IT profile. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the go-to resource on this front.

Research from the Digital Clarity Group recently cited the heavy influence of the CIO in the customer experience decision-making process. Yet one of the biggest challenges to any customer experience initiative is IT leadership. This is because customer experience programs are typically outside of their normal wheelhouse and requires them to go outside their predefined roadmap. Getting input and walking the CIO through the process will be critical to setting your customer experience projects up for success. Also it is important to demonstrate how a customer experience program is viable from an IT standpoint, accounting for factors like compatibility, operational cost and upgrades. Customer experience programs require IT support and getting the CIO onside will be critical to getting your initiatives off the ground.

CFO: The bottom line

While Chief Financial Officers (CFO) may understand the clamor surrounding a new customer experience initiative, they won't be likely to lay down the necessary funding unless they can link the strategy to bottom-line results. To convince the CFO that investing in a customer-centric program is a smart financial move, you need to emphasize just how important customer experience is to customers. Making a strong point for the business benefits of customer experience will allow financial leaders to connect the dots to ROI and long-term growth.

For example, it might be worth pointing out that nearly ninety percent of customers have stopped doing business with a company after a negative customer service experience, according to Right Now Technologies. For a full list of metrics to help get your CFO onboard check out our post - 5 metrics your CFO can’t ignore about the customer experience.

CEO: Final say

No other C-level leader has the high-level strategic insight of the CEO, and in an age when customer experience is a brand-defining factor, the involvement of this decision-maker is pivotal. As a Genesys report revealed earlier this year, "Control over the customer experience tends to rest at the top with the CEO," as this leader's role continues to expand in scope. In fact, Genesys noted that the most profitable customer experience programs are more likely to be initiated by this central executive position, arguing that such responsibility rests largely on the shoulders of the CEO. 

As always, the significance of CEO support cannot be denied considering typical c-suite dynamics, as this leader typically has the final say. Once an initiative gets off the ground, however, it's important that the CEO remains closely involved as the success of a customer experience program will depend on the enthusiasm of the CEO. 

Time to take action

There is a huge opportunity for companies that recognize the competitive advantage that the customer experience provides. With a solid game plan to gather support from every corner of the C-level from CEO to CMO, customer experience strategists will be much better positioned for success. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Duff Anderson
Duff Anderson is a visionary in digital Voice of the Customer research with over 20 years' experience. As SVP and Co-founder at iPerceptions, Duff is responsible for providing expert advice to organizations on how to gain a competitive advantage across the digital customer lifecycle and become more customer-centric.

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