Know your decision-makers or it’s a long CX road


I think we all discuss “decision-makers” in our businesses often. I actually just watched this movie Get A Job with Anna Kendrick and Miles Teller. In this movie, which really isn’t that good, Bryan Cranston — a long way from Breaking Bad here — plays Teller’s dad. Cranston loses his job but thinks he’d be a perfect fit for this other job, right? So he basically stalks the decision makers at the other job and keeps using the term “decision makers” in a somewhat-creepy way. It’s odd to watch, but it’s not that far off from how a lot of people talk and think about work. We’re always wondering what “the decision makers” are up to and how that’s all going to play out.

You can call “decision-makers” a lot of things: C-Suite, senior leadership, VPs, Directors, etc. You can flat out call them “decision-makers.” I often use the term “power core” in my writings and speeches.

The point is: they’re crucial to work, and especially CX/CCO work. Why do I say “especially” that type of work?

As we discuss often on my podcast — which is now up to 18 episodes, by the way, so check it out — CCO work is new to a lot of your fellow decision-makers. Companies have always understood the value of customers — as in, customers pay for your product/service — but only in the last decade or two have companies gotten more strategic around customer engagement, customer journey maps, etc.

So if you arrive in a job and you sit with the CFO, he/she might not completely understand what you do. That’s a problem, because you need that buy-in. You need to get to one-company leadership. Your customer-facing work can’t reside in its own silo, where you own a presentation to the other decision-makers every 10-12 weeks. It has to be the essential lifeblood of the business.

But that requires an understanding of the other decision-makers and what they need, want, and value.

The reality of decision-makers

When I wrote Chief Customer Officer, I spent a lot of time alone — often in crummy pajamas that my husband has never been a fan of — trying to decode complex issues. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I kept coming across was this seemingly simple question:

Why could I make traction in some companies but not budge the work an inch in others?

It took me a long time to get to this answer, but it all comes back to decision-makers. It’s about the power core. Every company has one, and they either help or hinder the work.

What’s the value of decoding the decision-makers?

Determining this power core has helped every one of my clients advance the adoption of their role — and aid in embedding the five competencies throughout their org. It’s essentially your decoder for the political barriers and enablers to your success. Let me be honest for a second. I’ve been doing this work since 1983 and at every company — yes, every company — there are political barriers and subsequently enablers to success. It’s all in the decision-makers, or the power core. You need to find, decode, and work with the right people. If you don’t, it’s a very, very, very long CX road.

If you want a quick three-step piece of advice, here you go:

  • Know the source
  • Understand the methods of operating
  • Realize the priorities

That applies to how you deal with all the decision-makers or power core in your organization. If you do that, your CX path will be a lot easier.\

Any other thoughts on working with the other decision-makers?

We’ll be back next week with a new podcast (hopefully) and a new blog.

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