CEOs, here’s how to set-up your CX department

CX has been proven to be a new battleground for many businesses. When implemented well, customers will act with increased loyalty, advocacy, more willingness to forgive and try more products from the same brand.

So it’s no surprise that many organisations are now adding a dedicated CX department into their already complex business structure. It seems logical to just create another vertical, give them a slice of the pie and get them to play nice and ‘collaborate’ with other departments. But, as CX is cross-functional, it doesn’t fit as neatly as the other departments do.

Here are some pitfalls to avoid.

  • Adding a CX department when you already have a separate digital or marketing or ownership departement, may raise some questions and confusion around remit and responsibilities.
  • Many activities a CX department would complete would overlap with those of a good marketing department. So prepare to see double up.
  • Who runs and owns the data? An exit survey on your website seems like the perfect thing to do for both the CX department and the Digital department.
  • Who advises where and how budget should be invested? Is it the CEO who might have a good view on company needs, but not where customer value is created? Or is it the department heads who have a vested interest in their team’s growth?
  • Who decides on the best business process to implement the envisioned Customer Experience Strategy?

In this article, I’ll discuss the 3 key things to take into account when structuring your new CX department.

1. Allow CX to influence the end-to-end customer journey, not just post-purchase

CX is the result of the interaction at any time between the customer and the brand.

That interaction can be seen (front stage) or felt (back stage). The back stage elements should all be built with 1 purpose in mind: creating customer value.

Do you want to be a customer-centric organisation (outside-in model) and let customer needs drive the direction the business takes? Then your CX department has to understand the end-to-end customer journey: all the way from business model design to loyalty. Then it is the CX department that goes to identify which moments matter most in driving further value creation.

Your generalist CX department has the holistic view, gathers the data across the journey and prioritises those through quantitative methods (more on that in a different blog post) so the business units have a bird’s eye view on what’s important and impactful across the board, not just across their remit.

This way, it is easier to explain why a certain department warrants more investment than others. It is easier to plan your next year’s budgets, instead of slapping on an extra 10% in the hope you’ll be able to recuperate more than that.

So here’s what I propose:

  1. The CEO states the business Vision & Ambition
  2. The CX department identifies the challenges and opportunities for value creation (e.g. our main blocker for growth is in our product mix)
  3. The BPM department identifies the internal strategies to support the CX Strategy from a process point of view
  4. The functional departments (e.g marketing, customer service, HR, legal) pull together proposals and strategic plans on how they will achieve the CX Strategy / BPM Strategy and the level of investment they will need

I doubt 2 and 3 are in place at all in most organisations. But without these departments, CEOs would have a hard time trading off investment decisions. How can they know whether more customer value and revenue is created in servicing clients than in sales? Without 2 and 3, a lot of business management is guesswork (and I applaud those organisations who’ve been able to do well despite the gap in capability).

2. CX is cross-functional and generalist and should influence, not execute.

The Moments that Matter and CX insights should get briefed into your specialist, functional departments: Business model, product & service design; brand, marketing & sales; and customer excellence. This puts the responsibility of delivering a customer-centric business strategy on the CX department but the responsibility of the successful application of those insights on the specialist departments. CX consultants are generalists and their role is to guide and influence the business strategy, not to dictate the execution of specialist projects. Branding, sales, R&D are all specialist functions and we should respect the expertise they bring.

So practically, this model could work well following these steps:

  1. The CX department is responsible for visibility and socialisation of the end to end customer journey, with specialist / functional departments inputting their insights and deep knowledge. They should initiate the data and research projects, develop shared dashboards and reports. They should identify the Moments that Matter and brief the specialist departments on the gaps and objectives.
    For example, the CSAT for customer service interactions might come back as highly satisfied, while the CSAT for the sales component might be dissatisfied. Then the CX departement could help advocate for and build a business case for increased investment in the Sales satisfaction program.
  2. The business model, product and service design should adapt with the new insights: new tech, new consumer mindsets or needs, new competitors. Marketing & sales need to tap into the CX insights relevant to them as well as find audiences to sell those products and services to. And lastly, Customer Excellence needs to deliver on what marketing & sales go on to promise, as well as do it in a way that creates highly satisfied (and loyal) customers. These departments are still in control of the implementation strategy (a CX’er should not be telling a brand manager how to implement a brand campaign, but they can feed them the insights that need to be tapped into).
  3. The BPM team needs to translate the front-facing customer journey into efficient and workable processes. If there’s a bottleneck with finance setting up a new customer account, and that’s diminishing the customer value, then they’re the ones responsible for finding a solution to the bottleneck. If there are sequential steps that could happen in parallel to increase working time and reduce dwell time, than they should be responsible for this. Again, as they have a holistic end to end view, they’re the ones who can direct the functional internal departments more clearly on what their objectives should be. And then similar to Marketing & Sales, HR or Legal get the freedom to consider their implementation strategies. The BMP department advises, but doesn’t implement.

Summary

If it’s not clear yet. What not to do, is to annex a functional CX department similarly to your marketing or sales department. What not to do, is to make CX responsible for implementation and muddy the waters with your specialist departments. What not to do, is to forget about the back stage design and think that we can just run things the way they were. What not to do, is to forget to align your employee experience with the front stage journey.

What not to do, is to ignore CX all together.

To get the best CX to market, the organisation needs to think like a generalist, but act like a specialist.

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A strategic design leader passionate about experience design, brand and digital transformation. Loves eating dessert first.

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Kim Verbrugghe

Kim Verbrugghe

A strategic design leader passionate about experience design, brand and digital transformation. Loves eating dessert first.

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