The talent strategy side of customer experience


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If you’ve been listening to my podcast — I can’t believe we’ve done 41 episodes — one of the topics that comes up a lot is talent strategy. That is somewhat of a broad term, but here I take it to mean “getting the best people possible and retaining them.” Most CCOs will mention talent strategy when they talk to me, either on my podcast or in client work. We sometimes think that chatbots and automation are the “next big things” in customer experience, and maybe to some degree they are. One of the current / always-has-been big things, though, is having a good talent strategy. What does that look like? It’s going to vary by firm and size, but here are some ideas.

Talent strategy: Affording headcount

Headcount is often a rushed, messy process at organizations. Too often it goes to the manager who yelled the loudest about being busy, and not to the manager who really needs the help. We can fix this, however. Maybe an organization could do quarterly reviews of headcount needs, and each manager who wants headcount could present a five-minute presentation? The presentation could be about the role, its need for the business, and what the priorities of the role look like. CCOs are sometimes challenged in this aspect of talent strategy — people need to understand what CX is, and what the team is doing, before headcount can be expanded. (A lot of my podcast guests also discuss the first 9-12 months, and/or “quick wins.”) Headcount cannot be a rushed or political process, though. Especially in a time of shifting business models, you need to make sure talent is being afforded to the departments that will need it most.

Talent strategy: Recruiting/hiring

Entire books could be written about how to improve recruiting and hiring (and have been written). I will say this: just as you focus on experience reliability and innovation when facing customers, you need to do the same when facing employee candidates. Your employees are still your greatest advantage, so make sure the process is clear, priority-driven, respectful, communicative, and has them submitting projects and portfolios tied to what the job will be like.

Talent strategy: On-boarding

Make this a more transformative process, as opposed to a transactional one rooted in filling out forms. By the midpoint of Day 1, the employee should be taking on projects that will have legitimate customer-facing impact. That’s why you hired them, right? Because you trusted them to do just that? Let’s see what they can do. Enough with the weeks and weeks of meetings and “getting to know” people. (You do need to get to know stakeholders, yes, but the work should be the focus.)

Talent strategy: Promotion and retention

Great analogy between CX and sports in this recent Forbes article. When Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl a few weeks ago, did the Patriots say “Hey, now you should go be in the back office?” Of course not. Tom Brady is still good at being a QB. Unfortunately, in companies this logic dies out. If someone is great with customers, they become a back-office manager. While that might be good for them — higher compensation — it’s bad for the company because you just lost a customer All-Star. Maybe there’s a way to make the star a manager who also deals with customers? A hybrid role? There are any number of approaches. But don’t lose your best people because of a rigid commitment to “the ladder.”

Those are just four quick areas. I could go on and on about how to get the best people, which is why I linked up the podcast at the top. Check that out for more discussions around this topic.

Anything else you’d add on talent strategy?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Your post is a great gate-opener to the concept of employee life-cycle, which has strong parallels to customer life-cycle. And, you’re right that entire books could be devoted to this important emerging subject. In my forthcoming book, Employee Ambassadorship, I’ve invested a chapter – The Employee Life Cycle of the Future – to managing the lifetime employee value and employee experience in CX.

    In studying many models, HR, management, and otherwise, here’s where I’ve netted out Specific employee life cycle models vary but consistent ELC stages often include:

    Recruitment: This stage includes all the processes leading up to and including the hiring of a new employee. E-recruitment software may be used to automate some of the selection process, for example filtering applications and resumes for requirements. This is rather analogous to Suspect and Prospect stages of the customer life cycle

    Onboarding : In this relatively brief stage, the employee is added to the organization’s identity and access management system. The stage includes ensuring that the employee has access to any applications and systems that are required for his job.

    Orientation: In this stage, the employee settles into the job, integrates with the corporate culture, familiarizes himself/herself with coworkers and management, and generally establishes his/her role within the organization.

    Career Planning: During the planning stage, the employee and management collaboratively develop objectives and goals. Personality profile assessments are sometimes used in conjunction with an evaluation of the employee’s performance to date. This may be periodically re-assessed, somewhat dependent on employee performance and desires, and available paths within the enterprise.

    Career Development: In this stage, the employee matures in his/her role in the organization. Professional development frequently involves additional training and/or exposure. The challenges in this stage are employee engagement, commitment-building and retention.

    Termination: In this final stage, sometimes referred to as “transition,” the employee leaves the organization. The specific processes are somewhat dependent upon whether the departure is the result of voluntary resignation, firing or retirement. However, in any case, offboarding is a feature – the employee is removed from the company’s system. Many organizations schedule exit interviews in an attempt to get useful input from the departing employee

    This was addressed more fully in one of my recent CustomerThink posts.

  2. Jeanne can always be counted on to provide wisdom that is profoundly simple and crystal clear. Love the Tom Brady example! Your blog makes me want to go back and read all of her blogs in this series! Keep up the great work!


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