Why Your CEO Isn’t Impressed with Your Work 

I wrote last week about why Your CX Scorecard is Probably Measuring the Wrong Thing. Now, on a flight home from a client workshop, I have a chance to catch up on some old reading. And it turns out that your CEO likely agrees. You may not be spending time in the right areas – or, at least, not making that clear to the organization. 

Executives and CX

Walker’s The CEO View of CX includes a survey of Business-to-Business Customer Experience (CX) employees. The survey asked them about their CEO’s top areas of focus, and they selected “Competitive advantage” and “Growth, profitability and valuation” as their top two. But when presented with the same list to describe what they were focusing on, the answers were “Identifying what to do AND how to do it,” “Creating a customer-focused culture,” and “Incorporating CX capabilities throughout the org.” The same list, but completely different areas of focus identified. 

Are the two necessarily a mismatch? Of course not. All three areas of CX focus can be building blocks to accomplish the CEO’s goals. However, it’s telling that the CX employees didn’t choose the outcomes, but instead the tasks. And that puts you at risk of being marginalized. 

Connecting Your Work to Your CEO’s Vision

It’s a little like that old yarn about the three brick layers. When asked what they were doing, the first one said, “What do you think? I’m laying bricks.” The second said, “As you can see, I’m building a wall.” And the third said, “I’m building a beautiful cathedral!” The CEO wants a cathedral – are you laying bricks? 

The capability building activities identified by the CX pros are important. But without linking these activities to the corporate initiatives they support, you’re at risk of being seen as tactical at best. At worst, your CEO may feel that you are not adding value. Building a customer-focused culture, for example, is required to creating a company-wide approach needed to earn customer loyalty. But it’s also possible for this to accomplish nothing except feeling good. To avoid this risk, continually measure the impact of what you do in ways that connect to your CEO’s priorities. 

You probably can’t say, “Our customer-focused culture initiative has generated $2 million in customer retention.” The link it too tenuous to be believed. But you can say, “Our customer-focused culture initiative has led to 75 new ideas on how to improve customer loyalty. Of these, 20 were prioritized, and 5 have so far generated $2 million in customer retention.” 

That’s what your CEO cares about. Until you can create that linkage, it will be difficult for your CEO to buy into your work.  

We all believe that doing the right thing for customers is the right thing for your business, or we wouldn’t be in CX. Your CEO probably agrees with this concept, at least at some level. But until you stop talking about laying bricks, your CEO won’t see the linkage to her cathedral. 


This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Blog Carnival celebrating customer experience. It’s part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day 2017. Check out posts from other bloggers at the blog carnival. And learn more about CX Day at: http://cxday.org 

1 reply
  1. Erik J Beckler
    Erik J Beckler says:

    Jim, nice post. Thank you for sharing. I have some thoughts, not on the premise of your position, but to how CX management can help make the connection downward to employees, which can help with connecting to the higher goals.

    You state the survey asked CX employees these questions. The first questions allows the respondent to put themselves in the mind of the CEO, so they think big. The second question puts them in their place in what they are doing. Nothing wrong with that, but it is somewhat apples and oranges.

    Front line CX employees may see themselves as the tactical worker bees that are supposed to look at their slice of the world and make it better. CX management needs to bridge the gap between connecting their efforts to company goals, which you’ve written about the last two posts. However, CX management, in order to drive more alignment between employee behaviors and actions and the mission, vision and strategic plan (the reason why the organization exists) can help the front line people do their work better, contribute more impactfully to a customer-focused culture and have a greater impact on results the CEO cares about.

    That alignment aspect of leadership is a missing component at so many levels. People get caught up in the day to day. They are grooved to get stuff off of their list that they lose understanding as to why they are doing it. Instead of a management person trying to translate what gets done in CX into business results terms, what could happen if much of a CX staff gets it and works towards it every day? It creates a lot of positive momentum.

    Keep up the good work.

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