How to really do strategic management in CX


I wanted to talk for a quick second about strategic management in customer experience. If you’ve been listening to my podcast — and the next episode is No. 20, which is crazy — you’ve probably heard many CCOs and other senior customer experience leaders talk about strategic management. I’ve been blessed to have some great guests who really “get” it, but over the years I’ve obviously also encountered people that miss the concept of strategic management.

Usually when you miss on strategy, what’s happening is pretty simple: you’re confusing it with operations. Strategy is long-term vision for an organization or a customer journey. Operations is the day-to-day plan of how the strategy is achieved. They are highly-related, yes, but they are not the same thing. If you define a bunch of logistics and call that “strategic management,” you’re somewhat missing the point. Similarly, if you set a strategy and have no execution plan, the strategy will be the tree that falls in the forest.

If you want to improve the business engine at your company and gear your growth around the customer, there are four culprits you need to recognize — and then five solutions you can put in play. This is your guide to strategic management in CX. If you have a copy of my book Chief Customer Officer 2.0or if you feel like buying one! — some of this is covered around Page 61 in the hardcover edition.

Strategic Management: The Four Culprits

The four culprits that hit back at building a successful business engine are:

  • Silo-based prioritization and investment
  • Work gets layered on without capacity creation being addressed
  • Lack of rigor in holding people accountable
  • Annual planning and IT investment

Made even simpler, here’s what those break down to:

  • Silos going to the survey dashboard trough and cherry-picking metrics that can be attributed to them
  • Projects based on quick reactions where eventually every member is saying “Why are we spending time on this?”
  • A “take a look” culture where whoever “owns” a certain area or P&L is asked to “take a look” and “fix the issues”
  • Customer experience priorities and budget being treated as a silo, instead of a cross-functional approach that understands the customer is at the heart of your entire business

In short, the four culprits make it so that strategic management is nearly impossible. But there’s a way around it!

Strategic Management: A Five-Competency Approach

The five competencies of customer experience management are my proven framework across 30 years of doing this work. You can read about them at that link, but in the context of the four culprits above, here’s what I’d outline:

  • Align the leadership team: I call this “one-company leadership”
  • Ground yourselves in reality: Some call this “eating your own dog food,” but it means walking through the customer journey to see the repercussions of silo-by-silo decision-making
  • Agree to strategy: This is what I was discussing above re: strategy vs. operations. You need both a strategy and a plan.
  • Clarify the CCO Role: At many orgs, the CCO role is fairly new — and honestly, that can engender confusion and even resentment from other executives. The CEO has to be clear about what work you’re doing and integrate you with the other teams so that everyone realizes the importance of end-to-end customer experience.
  • Take action with the leadership team: You did the groundwork, so now you move forward. Earn the right to the work.

That’s my quick primer on strategic management in customer experience — the good, the bad, and the semi-ugly. We’ll be back next week with Podcast No. 20 and a new post. Have a great weekend!

If you’d like to add anything else about strategic management, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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