The way you think about CX has a relevance to how you look at your business as a whole. Two touch points which create a customer experience are people and product and both need to work in unison if you want to be profitable and future-proof your organization.
We can all agree that adopting a customer-centric vision to provide customers with a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints is no longer a “nice to have” but a business necessity.
Brands need to acknowledge that there is a shift in the customer paradigm – today’s customers’ expectations are changing at a phenomenal pace, customers are better empowered by technology, and they have more options than ever before.
Many businesses I speak to confidently say they are customer-centric, but the reality is that they are failing to keep their customers. With so many reports available, it is no secret that consumers move to another vendor when they have had a poor customer experience. Apart from leaving you, the damage is compounded by them sharing their experience with many others. And if it is shared online, the damage remains with your brand and for all to see.
So where does a customer experience leader fit into this whole new world of keeping the customer engaged, loyal and your brand ambassador?
CX leadership is becoming an increasingly crucial role in organizations that have yet to create a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints in a customer journey to achieve greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention.
As with all business functions, customer experience needs strong leadership to formulate and execute winning CX strategies and roadmaps to navigate this crucial function whist focusing on customer experiences, personalization and real-time behavioral data.
We are now working with many brands to appoint senior level customer experience experts to lead this modern-day function. Without prioritizing this role, many organizations are losing their customers and I often have to remind clients that it is easier to retain customers than find new ones.
How a Senior CX Role Will Save Your Business
CX leadership is about customer responsibility and ownership and given that without customers there would be no business, this crucial role should report to the CEO. Business performance vastly improves when CX is in the line of sight of the CEO. Customer driven growth will result in customer experience excellence, and this is a critical factor for many organizations who will struggle to survive and thrive in competitive sectors.
Without an experienced CX leader taking charge what is fast becoming a crucial role in many industries, your business is likely to lag behind and either not convert customers or lose customers because you have not cultivated a customer-centric ethos or environment.
Organizations that provide great customer experience generally have highly engaged employees.
One of the most strategic performance measures today is the customer experience.
CX Leadership to Create a Customer-First Strategy
Many businesses are learning that customer experience is everything and the smartest ones are anticipating customer needs before they happen.
Customer Experience is not a new phenomime. It has been around for the longest time in various guises being led by people who have the skills and mindset to embed a sustainable focus on managing the experiences customers have with an organization. There are now formal qualifications in CX such as Certified Customer Experience Professional.
Emerging trends in consumer behaviour are underpinned by significantly scaled back spending across most categories. With a drastic decline in foot fall in retail outlets, consumers have exponentially increased their online retail spend and digital adoption. This has created a need for a more contactless engagement experience creating a greater need for digital excellence and real time and dynamic customer insights.
With a dramatic shift to digital channels, businesses are having to move rapidly to meet the demand of increased users. Most organizations, whatever their size and industry are redefining and restructuring their business and service models to be more digital. This is helping to nudge customers to adopt behaviours that are suitable for these industries.
As products, services and apps rise to meet a new trend of customer demands, we may soon find markets oversaturated with the smarter businesses thriving and growing whilst others fail or lag behind because of a lack of customers.
Whilst we wait and see what the next “normal” looks like, one thing is certain – convenience may be a priority for most consumers but there will be a demand for high quality engagement just as we expect high quality customer service and alternatives to in-person experiences. CX leaders will need to balance speed with smooth execution, and this takes capabilities in managing the CX journey at many levels with many stakeholders.
“A positive customer experience is crucial to your success and growth because a happy customer is likely to become a loyal customer who will promote your brand and products or services.” – Deepa Sud
What skills are required for a CX leadership role?
Understand the CX journey – CXM is ideal for automated personalization, delivering the right content at the right time. By understanding the customer at an individual level and connecting with them at every stage of the customer journey will build lasting impressions and loyalty.
Technology and data mindset – given that Customer Experience is built on ever changing digital foundations, a head of CX must have an aptitude for technology to be able to understand the benefits of new technologies and lead the adoption and adaptation of these to enhance the customer experience journey.
Marketing technologies should fit seamlessly across the entire organization and the leader must be able to work cross functionally with IT, operations, sales, finance and supply chain to map the customer journey as this will shape the customer experience.
Data driven marketing is no longer an option – it is a necessity. Capturing and leveraging customer data for insights will enable CX leaders to create personal, relevant and engaging customer experiences. Data analysis has become a very important factor in delivering a great CX.
Bringing together real-time customer data – behavioral, transactional, operational and financial data – the CX leader can drive analysis, data science, innovation and activation.
Commercial acumen – with a greater need to invest in technology, data analytics tools and people capabilities for better strategic planning and proactive engagement strategies and execution, CX leaders should be guide business owners and stakeholders on the best returns on their investment. Building customer delight experiences is a significant step in creating customer lifetime value and reducing cost to serve.
Customer Experience team capabilities – hiring the best CX team of data scientists and customer experience specialists with deep expertise in customer experience journeys is critical as a leader cannot deliver such a tall order alone and internal silos needs to be eradicated.
Strategic mindset – with an ability to predict customer expectations and market trends to create a more dynamic customer experience, the CX leader must be able to create a customer-centric culture across the organization and with all stakeholders. They need the capability to align customer experience expectations with business strategies based on industry and competitive landscape.
Focus on the end-user experience – as the great Steve Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around”. By visualizing the end-user experience and working backwards to strategize and execute CX initiatives, leveraging data is key to deriving meaningful insights for enhancements and new approaches.
They should be able to build collaborative cross-functional models and capabilities to align marketing, brand, communications and sales teams with the CX strategy.
Create long-term sustainability – whilst delivery short-term business results, experienced CX leaders are reimagining the customer experience. By digitalizing products and services, processes are simplified which customers love and this drives engagement and loyalty.
“CX leaders need to find ways to create a differentiated customer journey and experience.” – Deepa Sud
Whether your customers are B2B or B2C, they are empowered, in a hurry to get what they want and, in some ways, more difficult to please. Through brand advocacy, customers have the power to sell your business.
As organizations resume to “normal” the path forward is anything but clear. With so much having changed over the last six months in customer behaviours and trends, the customer experience should have become a hot topic for every business, however big or small you are. Without the right CX leadership and capabilities, you could find yourself out maneuvered by your competitors because today the focus is customer-centric optimization.
Deepa Sud is the founder of Plum Jobs, a Dubai based boutique consultancy where she works with CEOs, business owners and leadership teams to define corporate vision and strategy, transform operating models and overcome people and hiring challenges.
Through a global HR career at Board and senior executive level that spans across multiple FTSE 250 organizations in EMEA, APAC and America, Deepa has a visionary and pragmatic approach with expertise in leading business transformation and turnaround through strategic talent management and leadership development to accelerate long-term growth and sustainability.