It’s simple to analyse Customer Experience (CX) trends. The analysts and commentators create lists of trends at the end of each year and then guides to what is coming next January. What is not so easy is being a multi-function CEO with a clear understanding of which of these trends should be harnessed to support your customers better than your competition. With pressures on the bottom line and a Board that represents finance, sales, marketing, IT, operations, and HR, it takes real leadership to prioritise that which may seem obvious to those focused on CX alone.

The good news is – you are not alone. The hardest part is accepting trusted counsel as to the importance of exceptional customer service (from a customer perspective) and the quantification of the bottom line effect. According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority – but how many of these 72% CEOs are clear on how to get there?

A business can look both internally and externally to build a 2017 to 2020 future-proof CX strategy. With competing requests for funds it is up to the CEO to prioritise and focus. The leader must take on board all data and opinions from a diverse and talented array of people. Having worked with many businesses demonstrating all manner of customer experience solutions from bad to good to great – I can confidently say that harnessing the CX ecosystem is the greatest asset you have.

Arbitrating between your Chief Client Officer/Client Service Director, Chief Sourcing Officer/Procurement, Marketing Director and CFO is key to maximising this great opportunity. Both internally and externally, building trusted relationships and partnerships is critical and not easy. There are a great many reasons why the executive team will have existing relationships, but they may not be the most appropriate – or right.

I am a great believer in the power of ‘outside looking in’ and hence the need for a CEO to personally evaluate the two or three key external partners needed to achieve exceptional customer service. Having an internal coach to demystify this subject, and the technologies available, is important. The CEO has to deal with many subjects related to CX, such as shared service centre vs. outsourcing, cloud, web services, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, chatbots, predictive analytics, intelligent assistants, omnichannel, and so on. And they need to keep the lights on for the rest of the business while studying these various CX options.

My advice is to take a call on a specialist CX systems integrator who has access to, and experience with, the full book of technologies available whilst having experienced ‘what good looks like’ and can lay out the steps needed to get there.. You also should not underestimate the power and value of working with the extremely professional and experienced CX outsourcers who already know what good and bad look like and can give you ample examples what works and what doesn’t. With regard to the outsourcers – it is essential not to consider them as a short term commodity but as a strategic partner with inherent flexibility and experience in all things Customer.

Bottom line – and a message for CEOs – this is your responsibility and make sure you have trusted advisers from both inside and outside your organisation giving you all the information required to make the right decision.

Published in Opinions