Lessons Learned on My CX Program Journey
By: Jon Windley, CEO, AltitudeCX
Over the course of my past dozen years involved in creating, leading, and advising on CX programs, I have made many, many mistakes. From steering teams to nowhere, to 300-page reports measuring everything but shoe size, I have raised program errors to a fine art – no doubt about it. In my defense, I can claim that my approach had one saving grace – “fail fast.”
One important lesson I learned from my early days managing TQM/Six Sigma teams was the ability to turn the page quickly when things were not working. Turning back to the aforementioned steering team to nowhere: I gave the team 90 days to make progress and, realizing that we had the wrong strategy/key players, I shut down the effort with little fanfare, declared it my fault (which it was), and reset our efforts with a new plan. I was able to do this because I shared with our leadership, BEFORE we began our efforts, that some things would fail, that we would learn from them quickly and move on. In that way, I was able to set expectations across the organization that it was okay to fail, just not okay to chase a bad strategy for too long. Bottom line, organizations need to understand that things won’t always work, and we will keep moving ahead until we settle on the things that do.
Another big lesson I learned early on was to lobby key leaders BEFORE major decision-making meetings. There is nothing worse than realizing half way through a discussion that you don’t have the support for your plans and that you will lose valuable time re-casting, re-communicating, and re-engaging a new plan that shouldn’t have been necessary.
Cool idea for buy-in, prior to the major decision: I would meet with each decision-maker, discuss my plans, and alter my strategy based on their inputs. In this way, I managed to give everyone a bit of ownership in the plan.
Let’s wrap up with a short list of “uh-oh’s” to avoid as you start on your journey:
- Don’t settle for lower level sponsorship – Go big (CEO) or go home. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having the CEO own the CX effort and act as the face of the program to customers. This provides legitimacy and ensures the program scope will be sufficient enough to address the entire customer journey.
- Don’t allow different participants to bring their own “data” – I call the solution to this “one version of the truth.” Whether intentional or not, some leaders will bring data that is misleading at best, and sometimes altogether incorrect. Make sure that an independent team has control of the metrics/presentation decks to ensure standardization and accuracy.
- Finally, don’t expect too much too soon – Temper your expectations on what is possible, especially in the first year. Remember, you are trying to move an entire organization to think and operate from a new paradigm, and this will take time and patience. In the first year, creating the rhythm and cadence around CX and realizing some quick wins for customers is a great start. Set reasonable expectations for what is possible, and celebrate the victories that come from a united leadership team and a rapidly emerging customer-centric culture!
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