In my latest vlog post, I explain 4 different potholes to avoid in order to advance your CX work, and today, I’m sharing excerpts from previous interviews with two experienced C-Suite leaders who successfully incorporated some of these tactics within their first year as a CCO.
You’ll hear from Brian Lilie, CCO and Head of Technology at Equinix, the world’s largest IBX data center & colocation provider, and Isabella Lau, CCO and CMO at Manulife, a Canadian multinational insurance company and financial services provider. Both leaders focused on uniting the C-Suite and understanding their needs to advance the CX work within the organization.
Unite the C-Suite in Their Commitment and AccountabilityBefore becoming CCO at Equinix, Brian was the company’s Chief Information Officer, so he was familiar with the business and the players in the game. When I interviewed Brian, he had been in his role for about 10 months and was redefining the work that needed to be done. It was important to him to develop a system of tactics to operate on rather than by anecdote. He started by methodically gathering customer feedback that he could share with the C-Suite. But he knew that in order to share this information in a way that could inspire change, he needed to get everybody in the C-Suite on the same page.
By emphasizing to his fellow leaders how important customer experience transformation is, and by giving it a stronger focus, it soon became a major topic at leadership offsites where goals and objectives are set and the focus of the organization is created.
Brian personally engaged with the C-Suite to understand their point of view, bring them in, and identify how each individual can play a role. Because, as I mentioned in my vlog, when you get C-Suite commitment, you’ll need to hold people accountable for their part in the work. Brian worked closely with his team and delegated the work into manageable chunks of work. He’s seen presidents in the various Equinix firms take responsibility for P&L, and sales and operations, and really tackle this work from a one-company approach.
How Does the C-Suite Define Success?
Once you’ve got C-Suite commitment, are they in sync? What do they consider success? Brian held weekly meetings with the leadership team where everyone was responsible for dialing in and sharing the portion of the work they’re responsible for. He had to ask, “How do you define a customer metric that is valid and useful for your company?” and by asking that, Brian united the C-Suite behind a customer asset metric that was important to them, measuring EBITDA, Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization.
Brian had to change the way people looked at EBITDA. He wanted it to be seen as a metric just as important as revenue – one that also potentially impacts compensation, and delegated this metric measurement to the CFO and his team. With this new focus, the CFO began to think of and view customers in a new way. He was able to actualize that he and his team could really impact the customer experience and be a deciding factor in whether customers leave or stay.
Understand the Needs of Your LeadersWhen Isabella Lau became CCO and CMO at ManuLife Hong Kong, she spent the first year in her role understanding the CEO’s needs and priorities. As I mention in my list of “potholes to avoid” – this is a deep dive into C-Suite alignment. Yes, you know your CEO needs your help, but you also need their insights to help lead your work. When assessing her work to be done, Isabella wanted to know what KPIs the CEO expected to achieve, what was his appetite for investment, and what was the time frame that he had in mind.
While gauging her CEO’s expectations, Isabella also ensured that her CEO understood that the CX transformation would not be a one year job — but he was patient and gave her the time she needed. After speaking with the CEO, Isabella spoke to members of the C-Suite who reported directly to the CEO to understand what customer data was available and what were the capabilities and tools within the company.
Find your Allies and Early Adopters
I always say that when it comes to leading CX work, you need to know who to dance with. During the first year in her role, Isabella spent time identifying who would be CX champions — who has work in their department that they’ve wanted to do for years but needs more influence to get it done? Isabella found these early adopters and worked with them to build small wins. She then marketed this story back to the C-Suite to build credibility around the CX work. Isabella spent time “earning the right” to do the work; she then received more funding from the CIO who partnered with her to push through initiatives.
“Identify who your allies are early on. Jump on that opportunity to partner with that person,” says Isabella. Isabella says that once you have a milestone success, package up the story and share the experience with other leaders. Present this achievement in a way that showcases what was learned throughout the process and what can be brought in to enhance the business and customer journey. She goes a step further to say that as CCO, you make these other leaders think about their own portion of the work and what new approach can be tried, then offer to partner with them to do a trial program.
CX transformation work isn’t a one-stop shop, it’s an ongoing journey that your organization will embark on for years. So for those of you in your first year, get your C-Suite on board as early as possible and engage any other leaders who show interest in advancing the agenda.
The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Customerville. Customerville transforms customer experience surveys into rich, interactive experiences using its unique Design-driven Feedback™ platform.
This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!