Walking the talk: making leadership accountable for CX

November 20, 2019
Industry News
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According to recent research from Kantar, 91% of CEOs believe customer centricity is essential to driving business growth whilst only 19% of customers rate their brands as truly customer centric[1]. One of the key drivers behind this mismatch is the absence of senior leadership engagement with, and support for, CX programmes.

CX drives tangible business outcomes, it is far more than just a metric or a platform

With many businesses proving (and some even publishing) the causal link between class-leading CX and business results, it comes as no surprise that the number of companies establishing CX programmes is increasing, with CX spend expected to rise from $4.2bn in 2017 to over $12bn by 2020[2]. Sadly though, this too often sees a company investing in a CX platform at great expense, with significant cross-organisational communication and support activities – only for platform usage and engagement to trickle off in the following months as little effort had been made to culturally embed the programme in the business. Two in five Senior Leaders (41%) [3] say that CX is their number 1 priority – but why do so many programmes fail to deliver on their promise?

The answer often lies in a lack of ongoing senior leadership championing the CX programme – from conception, but particularly once it has launched. Once the shine has worn off the new programme and priorities have changed, all too often leaders will move on to the next urgent challenge (urgent versus important is a whole other debate). Their teams are left to continue managing and optimising the CX programme, often facing an uphill battle to continue the momentum the programme previously had.

Frankly, this is a mistake. When senior leaders move on to other areas of focus, with them goes control of investments, influence on what is seen as business priorities and ultimately the power to dictate how teams undertake their roles to serve customers. Senior leadership are mission critical. Without their buy-in and ongoing commitment, CX engagement programmes are doomed to fail.>[3] 

Senior leadership hold the key

Staff engagement is of course imperative, but staff are not always enabled to deliver a great customer experience. Not many customer facing staff start their day with the mind-set of creating poor customer experiences. Typically it’s the processes or technology that sits behind their day-to-day working lives that prevent staff from delivering the experiences that companies really want their customers to have. This handicap leads to staff disengagement and cynicism towards CX programmes.

Companies already recognise that they face a challenge delivering their CX programme. One recent study found that only 19% of disengaged employees will do something for their company if it is not expected of them, compared with 82% of engaged employees[4]. It is our view that senior leaders are the missing “piece of the puzzle” when it comes to engaging the organisation on CX as they can unlock three essential ingredients for a successful CX programme.

1.       Business priorities

Senior leadership determine the business priorities and what is or isn’t important within the organisation. Having leaders dipping in and out of the CX programme as priorities change does little to illustrate the importance of CX to the wider organisation, inevitably impacting staff engagement and buy in.

2.       Roles and responsibilities

Within their business area, leaders have ultimate say over resourcing levels, what roles exist, how they are executed and how performance is measured. When introducing new CX priorities and processes that impact the day job, teams need clarity on what flexibility they have in how they execute their role. They need to have confidence that their performance against metrics will not be impacted as a result of accommodating new CX processes and doing what is right for the customer. CX Champions have been proven to make a significant business difference.

 3.       CX investment
Senior leaders dictate how much is invested in the programmes to understand CX and its impact. They also hold the purse strings for implementing the necessary experience improvements. Without senior leadership fully behind CX, these technology investments are unlikely to happen.

Senior leaders need to provide clarity on what needs to be done to make a step change in the experience for customers. Without their commitment, there is little chance the rest of the organisation will be convinced of the importance of CX.

How can organisations improve?

Kantar has identified three ways to get the best from senior leadership and help CX programmes deliver on their promise of increased profitability and differentiation. 

1. Convince them of the value (financial and otherwise)

Senior leaders understand that happy customers lead to happy shareholders. Recent research shows that 79% of businesses understand that CX links to business results. But putting a financial value on CX gives senior leaders the tools they need to really understand the impact of CX, make educated decisions and track the outcomes for both the customer and the business. This means identifying which moments have the greatest impact on CX and ultimately customer value. It also leads to better informed CX investments and improved ROI.

2. Make them accountable

The buck needs to stop at the top. The most successful projects we’ve worked on had senior leaders personally responsible for CX performance. While it is a divisive topic, the concept of compensation being tied to CX performance is growing and leadership is a logical (and common) place to start. This makes them responsible for motivating their teams to deliver against target, starting by ensuring there is a common agreement on what success looks like and how it will be achieved.

3. Lock in ongoing commitment

Senior leaders must be locked into ongoing engagement and support for CX. Effective ways to achieve this include leaders frequently communicating their support across the organisation and calling customers to discuss their feedback. The most successful projects we’ve worked on have always seen senior leadership actively participating in the processes and communicating success across the organisation. There are ways and means of engaging busy, senior communities!

Walking the talk

Engaged and accountable senior leaders dramatically improve the potential for CX success. They must be on board with how CX is delivered and be motivated to make improvements. But all too often they are not.

It is our experience that CX programmes with ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ levels of engagement from senior leaders inevitably fizzle out and fail. Is your CX programme destined to have the same fate?

1. Insights2020, Kantar Consulting and CX+ Index, Kantar TNS (Jan 2018 –n=6,000)
2. Markets & Markets report
3. Accenture B2B Research
4. Temkin 2016

About Kantar
Kantar is the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company. We understand more about how people think, feel, shop, share, vote and view than anyone else. Combining our expertise in human understanding with advanced technologies, Kantar’s 30,000 people help the world’s leading organisations succeed and grow.