By: Jason Anderson
"Why build a CX team?", "How to build a CX team?", and "What comes after building a team?"
I was hired at BriskHeat as their very first Customer Experience (CX) Manager, to design and manage their CX program. I scoured the interweb and read as much as I could about CX strategy. As you know, there are many opinions (the Google doesn’t lie) as to what makes a CX strategy.
Consider Forrester’s definition of a CX strategy, “A plan that guides the activities and resource allocation required to deliver intended experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations in accordance with the goals of the organization.”
You’re going to be running around tackling one customer issue/challenge after another. I’m speaking from experience. Without a plan (i.e. CX strategy), your head will spin, hopefully not fall off, and your customers get something which is…well *meh*. It’s why having a plan is so critical from turning *meh* to great (thank you Jim Collins).
Funny thing when researching CX strategy. I noticed a lack of inclusion for a CX team. So, why do you need a CX team in your strategy?
Now if your organization has the resources, you may have direct reports. If you do, great! Show’em how you do teamwork (By-the-way, this is your team, not company-wide, which is the CX team I am referring to.). What if you don’t? The inclusion of a CX team in your strategy will give you access to an extra pair of hands, or more.
In either case, how can you effectively achieve the key components of your CX strategy such as achieving organization goals (making’ money), gaining executive buy-in, promoting CX, or further your initiatives? Besides more teamwork (woot-woot) you’ll benefit from wider organizational involvement and a bit of resource allocation.
Well, you could make the argument, it falls within your CX strategy Employee section (which I hope you have). In reality, this section should focus on your Employee’s Experience (EX). This includes things such as benefits, work environment, the tools for the day-to-day stuff, etc. I now advocate for dedicating a separate section to a CX team (more on this later), separate from the Employee. Highlighting a CX team in your strategy sends a message to everyone in the company, a clear sense of purpose (to staff participation) and commitment (company-wide).
Before I go any further, let me get a few of the cliché things out of the way:
Obligatory quote about teamwork from a successful business person (Steve Jobs), “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
Link to a post discussing the value of teamwork which impacts customers, Why Teamwork is the Key to Customer Satisfaction
Cross-functional team definition (CFT).
Research from a notable (author and thought leader type person) source (HBR) on how cross-boundary (department/function/skill) collaboration achieves greater customer loyalty and higher margins.
Full disclosure, when developing my CX strategy, I didn’t include a CX team. To be frank, I hadn’t considered it. Fortunately for me, Senior Leadership had the foresight and made the decision to select a CX team prior to my hiring.
I should also point out, it wasn’t until the first year of leading the team which I recognized the value including a team in a CX strategy.
I have since been motivated to include a CX team. There were also plenty o-lessons (some painful) I learned along the way, which should aid in your CX team strategy development.
How to build a team.
I may have been fortunate to have a bit of leg work done for me, yet I did learn a thing or three about building a team. Right or wrong, it’s easy to be critical of the others (not my best quality). Here are some do’s and don’ts:
Have a plan. If you can’t answer the questions: What is my goal? and, How will I determine success? Stop! You’re not ready.
Do research and create a list of candidates.
This part is relatively straight forward. Include at least one person from each department. This includes non-customer facing roles.
Include exempt/non-exempt staff. Keep in mind, you may have to make special arrangements for hourly staff (see last bullet).
It should go without typing/saying but make it diverse (in all areas please).
Talk to their manager prior to extending an invitation to join.
Include supervisors and managers or other leaders. The team should have the freedom to speak openly.
Make it mandatory. Participation needs to be optional.
Invite your work buddy or friends. What can you expect to accomplish with a bunch of yes men/women?
Now that you have a team, what do you do?
Each organization is different, just like the customer journey. I can’t recommend where to start. However, there are things you should do for and with your CX team.
Share your CX team strategy. Go over each section. Spend a bit of extra time on the corporate mission and how your CX strategy supports it.
Describe the goals and outline your expectations. A discussion with the team should follow. Remember, it is a team.
Once you’ve decided, create a CX team charter. Here is a recent example (which I modified from a version shared with me): CX Team Charter
Now share. Tell the company who the team is and who they are. Promote the heck out of the team. I do this by sharing in a quarterly CX newsletter or any chance I can get. Especially when communicating with company leaders.
Include them in non-CX team matters as much as appropriate. For example, my team contributes to the CX newsletter. Or if I am writing a new initiative, I share with the team for feedback.
Meet regularly. When you do, have an agenda. When the meeting is complete, send out meeting notes and any actions.
I like to start off meetings by asking the team if they have shared with their co-workers or leaders what we are working on.
Closing the meeting – remind them to talk CX to their team.
Limit the number of team members. Don’t get cocky and add more people (my mistake). It becomes difficult to manage a meeting.
Keep em or get fresh blood?
How long can a person be part of the CX team? Do you take recommendations?
After my first year, I met with each team member. We talked about how their year went, what were their impressions, and if they wanted to continue. I also sent out a survey (imagine that). They all stuck around. No change in members.
The following *class* year, I replaced a few team members who left the organization and added additional members. It was an increase in about 25%. Don’t do this. Consider Jeff Bezos’s (Amazon, but you knew that) internal meeting rule. It’s about efficiency and scalability.
The current year’s CX team, I scaled back. I replaced a few folks and reduced to six (6), still representative of the organization. Next term I plan on sending out an invitation to all staff asking for volunteers. For me, a team size of six to eight, works well.
Really, why do all this?
For us, we are a 70+ year old company who continues to grow in revenue and employees. To continue our growth, the CX (program and team) are fueling this. It has allowed us to create a (growing) culture of continuous improvement, increase our teamwork (woot-woot!), improve communication across our organization, and increased the likelihood of this positivity sticking.
Including a CX team in this strategy not only aid in the closure of the gap between customer expectations and internal resources, it breaks down silos with teamwork, and drives real growth. Especially when (your or my) resources may be scarce or lacking.
I’ll end on an inspirational quote from a leading expert on global development and Ohio native, Gayle E. Smith, President and CEO, ONE –”If we do it together, we’ll succeed.”
We do organizational (CX) teamwork, woot-woot!
About the Author:
Jason Anderson, MS
Director, Customer Experience, BriskHeat Corporation
Jason is the Director of Customer Experience at the BriskHeat Corporation. He is driven to orchestrate positive customer engagements, develop customer loyalty, and improve the overall customer experience. He believes employees are the driving force for building meaningful customer relationships; and a critical component for any successful CX strategy.
Jason’s more than 18 years of relationship and leadership experience is spread across the biomedical, technology, and manufacturing industries. As the co-leader of the CXPA Columbus Network, he tirelessly works to grow and connect the CX practitioners and professionals within the central Ohio CX community.