Getting senior level buy-in for customer experience
Senior management in today’s businesses are now much more aware of customer experience (CX) and what it means. However, while they may increasingly understand the term and grasp its importance, ensuring that they actively support programmes designed to change and improve the customer experience in their organisation can still be a challenge.
What do you need to do to get senior management buy-in for CX initiatives? Here are three key areas to consider:
1. Gain management attention The first step is to develop a strong, formal business case for your CX project. What may seem obvious to you needs to be spelled out in language that senior management understand if you want to gain their backing. Do ensure you take these points into consideration too:
- Tailor the message to your audience The motivations of senior management will differ according to the type of organisation – private or public sector, publicly quoted or not and which market sector. Make sure you use business level language, models and terms they understand to back up your case for investment.
- Build your case from scratch Management won’t sign off a budget on your word alone, so use third party endorsement to back up your case. For example, what are industry analysts saying about similar projects? If installing new software or hardware, your preferred supplier (and their customers) should provide evidence of business benefits.
- Be flexible and under commit Make sure that you present a flexible model for CX that can evolve as business priorities change. Adopt a phased approach so that the project can gain buy-in and generate momentum. Ensure you under commit on the numbers so that any business changes don’t completely undermine your case. Go for early wins that validate what you are doing and guarantee future investment.
2. Making it real Many senior business people already buy-in to the idea of treating customers well but they don’t always change their behaviour or encourage their staff to make changes. To overcome this hurdle, CX professionals need to move on from requesting their support to outlining how individual executives can make real changes. Many managers are unsure about what they personally should do, so it’s important to explain the detail of a detailed CX programme and highlight the activities that each department or team needs to adopt.
3. Use persuasion and repetition One major challenge is to persuade business executives to change their behaviour in line with CX initiatives. As Forrester analyst Megan Burns says, ‘persuasion happens one-on-one, not in big meetings’. A single rousing speech or packed board meeting will rarely change executive behaviour overnight, no matter how strong the content. CX professionals need to work hard at getting to know individual executives, identifying what matters to them and pitching the CX story so that it complements their point of view. Constant repetition of the CX message will help people digest it a little at a time. While this sounds like hard work, it is what’s needed to create meaningful culture change.
Customer experience is consistently ranked at the top of CEO and senior management priority lists. They see the benefits – but this doesn’t mean they understand the changes that need to be made or the budgets that have to be allocated. Think like a manager, speak their language and build one to one relationships to transform awareness into concrete action.