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Not ready for customer experience governance? Then you’re not ready for CX

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 02/19/2015

BoardroomAs a passionate customer experience (CX) advocate, I frequently get to meet with companies just beginning their customer experience journey. I can consistently predict their future success when the conversation moves to governance.

Governance is the active involvement of senior leadership to guide the program and knock down barriers on the way to an improved customer experience. We all love the idea of a bottom-up approach, but it’s pretty much impossible to sustain change without customer experience governance.

An Effective Customer Experience Program Changes How Decisions are Made.

If you don’t change the decision-making, you really aren’t changing the customer experience. And the most important decisions happen above your pay grade. That’s why you need customer experience governance.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve brought up governance and hear, “Oh, we’re not ready for that yet.” Not surprisingly, when we get together again a year later, they’ll bemoan their lack of progress.

The specific approach to customer experience governance varies depending on your structure and your culture. But my starting point is typically a two-tier approach made up of a leadership and an action team.

Structure is Key

The leadership team consists of VPs  – those with the authority to drive change. Members represent all the key silos – marketing, operations, sales, etc. The CX leader leads these monthly meetings, sharing the latest voice of the customer, updating on the progress towards customer experience goals, and asking for help for stalled projects. Done right, these meetings include healthy dialog, as most customer experience needs involve coordinated changes between silos. That change can only happen if this team says it will.  There will typically be a vision or a charter guiding these efforts.

The action team is typically at the director level, and is also led by your CX leader. This team meets more frequently to ensure action is being done, updating the CX scorecard and doing the customer experience dirty work. While this is the team actually driving day-to-day progress, that progress grinds to a halt without the leadership team’s willingness to intervene on their behalf.

Effective customer experience governance isn’t easy. It’s much more fun to put together a vision, create some training, and hope for the best. But it’s governance that will make sure that you actually change how your decisions are made.

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