4 Truths of Customer Experience Leadership

The start of a customer’s journey might begin from the moment they first view a brand’s website, or step into a store. First impressions count, but it’s how the customer engages with your business after that initial contact that will influence how they ultimately perceive the product or service you’re offering.

With the rise of digital channels as platforms to engage with a company, Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Engagement are becoming important factors for organisations to optimise, as value propositions have become more transparent. Crafting a positive customer experience throughout all stages of the customer journey will keep customers coming back, which in turn builds lifetime value to your company through loyal customers who then become advocates for your brand.

But improving CX is many faceted, and takes enormous organisational agility and ability to achieve. Companies like Qantas and ANZ are leading the way in transforming customer experience, and together with our research of 410 Global Executives conducted by Forrester Consulting, have shown that there are four important steps to improving CX.

1. The CEO has a vision, and leads

When the CEO of an organisation recognises the importance of CX, change is driven from their vision. One effective example is the CEO of ANZ Shayne Elliott’s leadership in shifting the company to a ‘scaled-agile’ philosophy, which saw them go from a hierarchical structure to a self-directed team-based approach to getting work done. Shayne Elliott is passionate about speed to market and responding to customers quickly, and was able to lead the company to implement this strategy in projects such as introducing Apple Pay, which they achieved in just 10 weeks.

But leadership doesn’t just have to come from the CEO – it can also start at a departmental level with an inspired and motivated change agent. Kathy Grgic who head up Academic Administration at Griffith University explains how little University structures, hierarchy and governance have changed and how universities are struggling to adapt to new student expectations. Her department’s goal is to build capacity for innovation and change in order to deliver outstanding service to University students.

2. CX is your north star

The customer has to be at the heart of everything you do, and this messaging must be consistent both internally and externally. Staff need to be empowered for change and digitally enabled to innovate across every touch point in order to optimise the customer experience. Qantas marketing chief Stephanie Tully simplifies the issue by suggesting that it’s all about targeting customers with the right message at the right time on the right channel through access to data. While this may seem like simple marketing, it can get lost amongst the rest of a company’s strategy – your CX strategy should be at the heart of everything you do, it should be the companies north star.

3. Align your executive

Once the CEO has a vision in place, it’s important to make sure all of your key departments are aligned to the customer experience strategy, particularly in large organisations. Executives need to be clear on what they need to do to achieve this goal in their department, leading from the front lines and sharing stories to encourage their teams with consistent messaging.

4. Build organisational agility and capability into your core offer

Even with the strongest strategy in place, change may not come about unless you enable your employees to consistently build on their skills. ANZ digital chief Maile Carnegie argues that you need to create strategic clarity around transformation and what it means, so that your teams become more open to change, and not fearful that it will result in unemployment. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s famous ethos holds true in this case, ‘If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’

Qantas’ AVRO startup accelerator program is an excellent example of how an organisation can work both internally and externally to redesign the workplace and embrace innovation, starting by empowering their people. Organisations need to build a culture that is open to collaboration and co-creation, so that employees learn to expect change and become excited by it. This in turn will have a direct impact on customer service.

How does your business rate on these 4 truths?