Customer Experience Leaders are becoming more and more important in many organizations across various industries. This is a transformative position. If you are looking at hiring a CX Executive, you may be thinking about how this position will fit within your larger organization and what the CX leader should focus on. It’s important to keep a few key things in mind.
Overall, a Customer Experience Leader (or a Chief Experience Officer) connects the business’s overall needs and strategy with the customer experience. To be successful, an excellent leader melds strategic know-how and business acumen with customer-centricity and communications. It requires high-level thinking to understand and synthesize a variety of needs and feedback into useful, concrete actions that can then be implemented throughout the organization.
A Customer Experience Leader does – clearly – focus on how an organization interfaces with the public, but they also need to be ready to handle internal concerns as well. Customer experience can and often does overlap with employee experience, and a good leader should be paying attention to both. It is crucial that a company’s customer experience and employee experience (or their market brand and employment brand) align, and that synchronization falls under the purview of the Customer Experience Leader.
Without this, there’s a major impact on being able to hire top talent, which then trickles down to struggling to achieve top results. It’s important to look at it both from the hiring side and from the broader business and customer implications; both are inextricably interconnected.
In 2019, SHRM published the results of several workplace surveys, indicating the employee impact of building a great brand. Among some of their findings were several responses revealing just how important a positive company culture is to potential and current employees:
- 55% of applicants abandon job applications after reading bad reviews online (CareerArc)
- 92% of people would consider changing jobs if it involved moving to a company with a great reputation (Corporate Responsibility Magazine)
- 50% of candidates wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even with a pay increase (LinkedIn)
- A negative reputation can cost organizations 10% more per hire (LinkedIn)
Not only can a company’s reputation have a major impact on hiring, but it affects overall metrics like profitability. Customer experience, in some ways, can make or break an organization. According to a 2017 Gartner survey, 45% of businesses surveyed have calculated a positive relationship between customer experience or satisfaction and financial or business impact. Only 28% say that they have not yet found a positive relationship between the two (the remainder of respondents were unsure or had not performed these ROI calculations for CX).
With this correlation between customer experience and profitability, organizations still need a strong CX leader – not just to build the best strategies, but to communicate them effectively. When surveyed by Gartner, a small group of CX leaders revealed that only 6% of them were “very confident” and 27% were “confident” in their ability to project the business value or ROI of proposed customer experience improvement initiatives. In contrast, 43% described themselves as “neutral,” and nearly a quarter – 24% – said they were “doubtful.”
Part of the challenge for a Customer Experience leader is the fact that, in many cases, the effects of CX initiatives take a little more effort to measure. According to Gartner, most CX initiatives are part of the 70% to 80% of initiatives that “have indirect benefits and must use extensions to accounting metrics in order to quantify the benefits.” With this extra step in between, it takes more creativity and excellent communication skills for a Customer Experience leader to “prove” the benefits of their work.
When it comes down to it, a Customer Experience leader needs to be honestly dedicated to the work of building a better culture and experience. Forbes notes that “customers can tell when an organization is focused on providing a great experience and that attitude is reflected in their people.” It really is true – customers are savvier than ever, and the fastest way to lose clientele (and profits) is by ignoring the customer experience or, even worse, giving it a cursory and ineffective look as an item on a checklist.
The skills involved in Customer Experience aren’t just limited to that one area of an organization, however. A great CX leader tends to be flexible, creative, and strategic, all of which are crucial in attaining any business goals. By demonstrating skills in areas such as communication, listening, empathy, and motivation, a CX leader can set an example and help to shift company culture overall. In tandem with other leaders, they can then help to deliver an improved company reputation and environment. That, in turn, leads to improved work, employee investment in the organization’s success, customer satisfaction and likelihood to return and recommend, and a positive overall culture.
To shape customer experiences for the better, leaders may wish to take an approach that focuses more on the overall “journey” for the customer, rather than workshopping individual touchstones in isolation. A report from McKinsey explains that customer satisfaction is higher when a journey is positive than when touchpoints are. For example, customers are 73% more likely to be satisfied with health insurance with a positive journey. Customers are also 61% more likely to recommend a hotel when they’ve had a positive journey experience.
It’s up to the Customer Experience leader and their team to dig in and work on identifying what a customer’s end-to-end experience looks like when customers make contact with the company in some way. With a CX leader who works to understand customer journeys and specific segments, a business can become more focused, use its resources more effectively, and improve customer satisfaction.
These strategies aren’t just helpful for customer experience! A CX leader often may find themselves working on employee experience too. By using this approach, they can shape employees’ work towards a clear goal – these same strategies invite employees to be more engaged, motivated, and invested in their work.
Focusing on Customer Experience isn’t just about the customers themselves, and neither should the work of a CX leader. The skills and priorities of a CX leader can produce great results across the board: customer satisfaction, company reputation and revenue, employee happiness and loyalty, and the overall health of the organization. It’s a win all around.
About the Author
Christopher Rios is a Founding Member of Blue Rock Search. He has over twenty-five years in Hospitality and Executive Search and leads the Blue Rock CX practice. His desire and passion to deliver an exceptional and engaging Client and Candidate Experience has led him to his current role as Chief Experience Officer. He has over fifteen years of hospitality experience as an executive chef and has been recruiting executive and senior-level talent in Customer Experience, HR, and Hospitality for over a decade.
In his capacity as CXO, Chris oversees the retained CX Executive Search practice, which specializes in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of executive-level CX leaders and their teams inclusive of Leaders across all Experience Disciplines (Patient, Digital, User, Employee, etc.), Customer Success, Care & Support, Contact/Call Centers, Professional and Managed Services, VOC/VOE as well as Insights and Analytics.
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