Stuart Sadick; Joshua Clarke
Consulting & Advisory Services
In this market, customer-driven businesses have no option but to shift their thinking away from the traditional contact center or customer service executive. They need to be more customer experience-oriented.
This change also means a change in the way customer contact functions are led.
Executives managing customer contact need to move beyond cost reduction or revenue generation, or using outsourcers or other service providers who not address the underlying issues.
Progressive leaders are shifting their attention to improving the overall customer experience. Their companies are recognized as leaders in the field and they benefit from increased market share and positive word of mouth.
Four key competencies distinguish this new breed of customer experience leader.
Best practice, external awareness
The customer experience leader is well-versed in best practice information and trends in the external market. They understand the impact and benefits new practices could bring to the organization and are willing to implement changes. They demonstrate a strong understanding of the business environment, and understand factors, trends and issues which influence the company’s business performance.
A leader must instill within the organization a rigorous analytical approach to each aspect of their work – from performance management and vendor selection to root cause analysis. In this environment, analytics is more than a buzz word or a data report – customer experience leaders are able to distill complex issues, identify possible solutions and move to timely action. Just as critically, they are able to communicate the strategic value of analysis to their peers and others in the organization.
Organizational buy-in, relationship-building
Highly developed relationship building and influencing skills at all levels are a hallmark of the new customer experience leader. This is the area where a diversity of functional and industry experiences can have the most immediate impact. Customer experience leaders must use their credibility and relationships with their peer group and others in the organization to bring change throughout the organization, not just in the contact center. These leaders not only know what has to be done, they know how to get others to see it too.
The new customer experience leader also develops and applies creative solutions to business problems. The leader is not satisfied with the status quo or minor improvement. Their personal passion and knowledge inspires others to find the best solutions, and can evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives. They are willing to take risks, and understand the benefits of getting it right.
Requirements for success
In addition to these specific experiences and skills that will lead to success, it is vital to understand the environment.
Clearly the business must be rooted in a metrics-driven culture, where a rigorous, analytical approach is valued and expected.
The customer experience leader must have a seat at the table – playing an active role in setting the strategy as well as managing the operations of the organization. The ability to influence will be dictated by the individual, but it is important that the senior leadership team is designed to provide visibility and access.
Finally, CEO backing is crucial. With any change effort, CEO support, explicit endorsement and matching behavior are critical to success.