Guest Blogger

By Claire Sporton, SVP of Customer Experience Innovation, Confirmit

Technology has always opened the door to new and different ways of working, enabling us to do things quicker, smarter and faster. The growing arsenal of analytics tools, for example, is enabling Customer Experience (CX) professionals to listen to and understand what drives engagement amongst increasingly digitally savvy customers, across a vast range of platforms and media. They’re now far more equipped to create sophisticated Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes that can target hard-to-reach demographics on a local and global scale than ever before.

However, while I’ve enjoyed debating whether AI can deliver more than ‘Teenage Kicks’ this year, the real focus going forward needs to be on how to build a CX team that can harness all solutions and respond to  increasingly diverse business challenges. AI will augment the human – so let’s look at those humans.

Complementary skills

The most effective CX teams will be those that are motivated by being part of united effort, where each individual serves a different purpose and offers complementary skills. Budgetary constraints may of course limit team size but in an ideal world, even the smallest of teams should aim to strike a balance between individuals that can act on data, communicate across the organisation and think one step ahead. So, who or what skills are we looking for?

Demonstrating the value of investing in a CX programme requires hard data and robust statistics so having an Analyst as part of the team is essential. They must thrive on the analysis of large volumes of structured and unstructured feedback across the entire lifecycle of the customer. They must also be able to deliver, highlight and share key data that pinpoints Net Promoter Score® (NPS), Net Easy Score (NES) and other CX metrics on a regular basis.

But the Analyst also needs to look beyond scores. They should be able to break them down and explain how they are changing and what is driving that change. This allows the team as a whole to assess and communicate changes to the right people in the right format, and the C-suite can take the necessary action, fast. Ultimately, they must be able to identify an appropriate ROI model that will prove the link between CX activities and hard financial data. Higher revenue and lower operational costs are more likely to secure long term investment in a CX programme and potentially an increase in budget than a higher NPS and fewer complaints on their own.

Securing the buy-in and support of the CX programme across the organisation requires a clear understanding of who needs to be influenced and how to communicate the benefits of the programme at all levels. This is where the CX Evangelist steps in. This individual needs to be articulate, a great listener, have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to develop strong relationships with key stakeholders. Understanding what individuals, departments and the C-suite need and expect from the CX programme can play a crucial role in the ultimate success of the initiative.

More importantly, the CX Evangelist must be a real storyteller, using their passionate belief in the CX initiative to convince and enthuse everyone that they have the vision and aptitude to achieve real cultural and business change. If the pressure to prove ROI increases, it’s the CX Evangelist that is best able to supplement quantitative reports with a compelling story that will help to re-energise and mobilise the entire organisation.

Moving on to the skills that are required to create a great customer experience, a high-level, strategic thinker is required to not only design and deliver surveys and to close the loop with customers but to stay one step ahead of business challenges. It’s the Design Thinker that is best placed to ensure that the organization understands what a great experience looks like, and is able to think creatively about different ways to talk to people in order to exceed customer expectations and produce real results.

Well versed in the latest trends such as using audio and video in surveys, the Design Thinker will keep the team’s focus on the respondent and identify which approaches will get and keep their attention. This will ensure respondents know why their feedback has been requested and how it will be used to make a difference. The ability to communicate results and present them in a compelling way also falls in to the Design Thinker’s remit.

However, it’s the final member of the team – the Entrepreneur – who wraps solid CX expertise in real business acumen. They really understand what delivers results and translate ideas into action. The ability to work other members of the team, sharing some of their skills but combining it with an operational background, can really help CX teams to reduce pushback from different departments.

The Entrepreneur is more likely to understand why employees might find it hard to accept changes to business processes or workflows. They are also able to explain why change is necessary and how it can make such a big impact on the overall customer experience. The ability to understand, negotiate and secure agreement to new ways of working are the key skills offered by the results-oriented Entrepreneur, countering objections in order to achieve wide spread support for the CX initiative.

Collaboration and communication

What has become increasingly apparent is that as we strive to meet the evolving needs of modern business, the team required to deliver complex programmes must bring a finely tuned blend of a variety of skills to the party.

It’s unlikely that you will find all the CX skills you need in a single individual (unless they are super human!) and creating a team of similar types will only be self-limiting. So, as CX initiatives respond to pressures to prove ROI, identifying, recruiting and cultivating a broad spectrum of skills should be the top priority for 2019. A well-rounded team that can come out of their respective silos and work collaboratively together will, after all, balance individual strengths and weakness and deliver a well-rounded programme.

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