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How to manage your CEO?

How to manage your CEO?

You will have to teach your executives how to best support customer centricity initiatives

As the Head of Customer Experience with any number of years of experience in the field, you know the importance of customer centricity. You constantly develop new activities, implement new methods in pursuit of customer centricity excellence. Most probably you have gathered and trained a great team who are very enthusiastic and supportive of all your endeavors. But every time you develop a new initiative to help your organization become even more customer centric, there is one common pitfall sabotaging the long-term success — your executive leaders do not give you the support you need.

Typically, within their organizations, CX leaders hold a middle to top management position as either head of customer support or head of marketing or something similar. This gives them the ground to achieve short-term success with customer experience or customer centricity initiatives. However, eventually, what you will need is full support of the company’s top management to power smooth implementation of new initiatives. And this is where many CX leaders fail to ensure that support.

The good news is it is absolutely possible to change this situation to your advantage. I have collected five tips on what you as a CX leader could do to bring executive management onboard and, as a result, ensure lasting success of your campaign.

Tip 1: Knowledge is power — educate your leadership!

Now that you have been active in CX for however long, your understanding of its importance is almost intuitive. But in reality, it is not intuitive at all. To reach this point you have attended numerous conferences and workshops, read books on the subject, learned from experts, and even the fact that you are reading this article means you keep upgrading your knowledge and expertise.

However, as I keep saying, CX is a mindset, not a department, which means you and your team can’t be carrying it alone. When you produce data and insight from the VoC program, it needs to be acted upon in the entire organization. And for that, you need your top management, i.e., your CEO, CFO, and other leaders, to have a deeper understanding of the long-term benefits customer centricity can bring to the company.

What you can do:

  • Organize an executive briefing where you can explain why customer centricity is a proven success factor
  • Share studies on ROI
  • If budget allows, bring in external experts to conduct trainings and briefings

experience5 offers a service of conducting executive briefings in customer centricity for top management. Check it out here and feel free to reach out.

Tip 2: Manage the management!

As an employee, you are as responsible for your manager as they are responsible for you. Your executive leaders deserve your careful guidance. If you want them to follow your initiatives, understand them, and act upon them in a meaningful way, explain what the right objectives to give you could be.

What you can do:

  • Give them monthly key messages they could share in the company
  • Write one-page communication briefings that will enhance their understanding of objectives
  • Share recent success your CX team has achieved and make sure CEO shares it with the whole company
  • If any team within the organization has successfully updated their processes based on the results of a VoC program, inform the CEO and advise to create an incentive model
  • Organize customer visit programs where members of top management can meet with individual customers at all levels to better understand their needs and feelings

Tip 3: Enjoy and let enjoy!

Yes, customer centricity is as much of a job as any other activity in the company, but it doesn’t mean it should be boring. If all you talk about is action items, reminders, strict emails giving instructions, and are in general very process-driven, of course, it is very efficient but for anyone outside your team it is the opposite of inviting to join in.

Instead, create a working process that everyone enjoys, think about emotions as much as you think about results, and be open.

What you can do:

  • Organize pizza or donuts on behalf of a grateful customer, and not just within your team but in rotating places across the company
  • Spend time on content creation and communication, share both joy and pain. Being relatable will make others want to join your program and support your initiatives

Tip 4: Speak a language everyone understands!

For you as a customer experience expert, terms like “Voice of the Customer program,” “sentiment score,” “Net Promoter Score,” “response rates,” “return on customer centricity,” and a ton of others make a lot of sense. This is the language you speak. For the rest of the company though, you could be very well speaking Klingon, and the ratio of their understanding would be approximately the same. And it’s difficult to support something you don’t understand.

What you can do:

  • Use the language universally understood within the company, from top management to regular employees. You can still use CX jargon within your team but for others, break the language barrier

Tip 5: Show what’s in it for them!

Understandably, you are extremely excited when the response rate of your VoC program has increased from 15 to 21%. You know exactly what it means and how it is going to positively impact the company. But do your colleagues and leaders know that? Most probably, they don’t.

However, if you rephrase this piece of information and say that now you are better prepared to react to what the market tells you and offer services and products that are more customer-oriented, everyone in the organization will not only understand you but also celebrate it with you and help you achieve your next milestone.

What you can do:

  • Translate your achievements into information that is meaningful for the entire organization
  • Show how these milestones affect the revenue or other elements of the company’s success

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that often CX leaders place great importance on getting support of employees to implement new customer centricity initiatives. While this is absolutely necessary, you should remember that this process works both ways: not only from bottom up but also from top down.

Getting your executive leadership on the same page as the CX team will ensure not only their support but also much needed support from other departments. Because, once again, customer centricity can’t be achieved solely through the efforts of the CX team. It takes the cumulative attitude of the entire organization to establish lasting, long-term success.