Communication is such a cliché topic. We know what we need to do to be good communicators, right? Tailor our messages for different audiences, be clear and concise, don’t pollute messages with filler words or unnecessary information. As CX leaders, we’re communicating about a topic that most, if not all, of our companies, executives and
What makes an effective CX leader? What skills do they possess? What do they do differently? Based on input we’ve gathered and Walker’s own experience, we’ve developed an inventory of key skills. One of those skills is knowledge.
My great-grandfather lived to be older than most. He lived into his 96th year. And that’s how he would answer the question of his age. When he was 90 and someone asked him his age, he would respond with, “I am in my 91st year.” He was proud of his age, proud of his longevity.
Five qualitative approaches to customer listening:
- Customer advisory boards – Recruiting customers to provide ongoing feedback and participate in group sessions can generate excellent advice and improvements. Careful planning to recruit the right group of customers and structuring the sessions to focus on a few primary issues are important best practices.
- Focus groups – Focus groups can be conducted with a variety of small groups to obtain a well-rounded collection of insights. Expertise in managing the discussion is important to ensure all opinions are heard and to prevent anyone from dominating the discussion.
- Interviews – This technique is conducted one person at a time, either over the phone or in person. While it is more time consuming, it is a highly personal way to obtain terrific insights from various customers.
- Experience sessions – This complements techniques such as journey mapping. These sessions are about charting the ideal experience and leverage creativity and imagination to transform customer experiences.
- VOCE – Voice of the Customer through the Employee is all about understanding customers by asking the employees who work with them the most. Employees often are well aware of necessary improvements.
Retention and growth of existing customers are at the forefront of executive agendas, and we continually create new initiatives to help increase our odds of retaining and growing the customer base. Customer experience professionals can play a role in helping the sales team acquire the right customer. Here are a few steps to consider taking:
- Profile the leads at an organization level. If the leads are stored in a centralized system, start to profile them into various groups. This may include the size of the company, industry, perceived strategic fit and method by which they were acquired as a lead, to name a few. From there, look at how customers with the same profile have worked as customers once acquired. Which profile is the most profitable? What are their retention and growth rates? Which groups have a high cost to serve?
- Understand the needs of each group. Once you have a set of personas or profiles among the company’s sales leads, think about the needs of each group. What is causing them to put your company into their consideration set? That will help the sales teams determine specific strategies to help the leads convert to sales. You may need to do some exploratory work both internally and with customers to assist with this step.
- Move to an opportunity-level assessment beyond the higher-level needs. Once you have determined which profiles have the highest potential, think about the specific opportunity. Just because an opportunity with this potential customer has worked in the past may not mean it is a good fit this time. Make sure your company can solve a particular challenge they are asking for.
Advancing your CX strategy is best accomplished through a partnership – grounded in active leadership on both sides – between CX professional and CEO. The ultimate ownership of customer experience resides with your CEO. Here are several ways CEOs play a role in advancing your CX Strategy:
- Use insights strategically. For CEOs, customer intelligence drives decision-making at key foundational levels. Fundamentally, customer-focused CEOs use customer insights broadly in ways that make a real difference for their customers and, by extension, their business.
- Set aside short-term financial gain. Usually, CEOs who are focused on customers are willing to set aside short-term financial gain for the longer-term benefit to customers. Knowing that positive, sustainable results won’t happen overnight, these leaders demonstrate patience and resist the urge to change course midstream
- Believe in the broader customer story. While CEOs are most likely to interact with a handful of top customers, these leaders know the full, true story is rarely anecdotal. Consequently, with objectivity and an open mind, they engage across the customer base, digging deeper to identify common issues, trends and needs.
- Coordinate across silos. CEOs play the ultimate role in creating and sustaining an environment in which collaboration among functional areas is encouraged. This is one of the most effective methods to break down silos.
- Encourage empathy for customers. When chief executives are focused on customers, they work to establish a culture that prioritizes the customer experience and puts customer needs first. CEOs cultivate empathy for customers among employees, which in turn motivates associates to be customer centric.
- Request information, advice. CEOs value customer insights, and those who are the most customer focused proactively seek it out. These CEOs are regularly requesting information, asking questions or seeking advice about how to improve customer relationships.
- Make the call on resources. If CEOs value the customer and can see how customer experience strategies have business impact, they’ll commit the resources necessary to develop and implement a customer experience that is proactive, personalized and seamless.