Never Underestimate The Value Of Having “Friends At The Top!”

Posted On August 15, 2017
By Tim Douek

No two CX initiatives are the same. Some might focus on a single process or an isolated opportunity; others might involve an entire organization. Some come about as a result of a pressing issue, need, or opportunity, while others are part of company’s evolution and growth. One characteristic cuts through them all though–change programs are, by their very nature, unifying or polarizing. They all have the opportunity to unite your organization, and they all run the risk of dividing your organization. So, how can you tip the odds of success in your favor?

Navigating “Big and Small?”
Discrete CX initiatives—a contact center assessment, a customer or employee engagement research effort—can often be managed within the existing constructs of your CX team. They can be great for maintaining a laser focus on the work to be done, engagement with the subject matter experts within your organization, and the efficient completion of tasks with minimal fuss.

But what about “larger” programs? What about a “CX transformation,” a detailed and multi-layer program deployment with a long list of concurrent activities and a need to engage multiple stakeholders over an extended period of time?

From Theory to Execution
Let’s talk about the latter– the “big” program. You might select a third-party partner to help plan, design, and develop your program. You will engage with others across your organization. You’ll dig in; your strategy will take shape through collaborative discussions and workshops; your program will begin to come to life through operational plans and activities. There will be much to do; the initial program vision sessions (having provided everyone with a destination, delivery plan, and platform as well as specific roles and responsibilities) will give way to tactical execution and delivery.

Your program is now being deployed. The journey has now transitioned from conference room theory to on-the-ground reality. Now it is REAL! Will your program be one of the minority that truly succeeds or among the majority that flounder and ultimately fail to achieve all that they set out to accomplish?

Everyone has an Opinion – They All Need to be Heard
New conversations begin, and the dialogue across your organization will evolve. As your program begins to get results, the feedback starts rolling in, different parts of our organization will begin to ask questions that they did not think of before. New stakeholders will emerge, new positions will be created and filled, and over time, people will naturally move into and out of their roles in your organization and your program. New stakeholders will need to be on-boarded and briefed. Suggestions will be made.  Vocal supporters and detractors will emerge. There will be lessons learned and new competing priorities. Your IT department will start asking for data (or pushing back on your CX team’s request for data). Your marketing team might start paying closer attention to your CX program’s messaging; your branding group might start to weigh in regarding the look and feel of the graphical content and program branding. Regional teams might start to ask to be more or less involved; your CFO might need to trim program budgets to balance the books. Now is the time for renewed, visible, and strong resolve and commitment to “The Plan.” This is the time when your program will either become “unstuck,” or its successes will be amplified through your organization, gathering positive momentum and building on itself. The key to success: strong alignment across the organization that is clearly supported and visibly reinforced from the top. It need not be rigid or inflexible, but it must be strong, and it must be unwavering.

Respect everyone: Deliberate Engagement Through Efficient Program Governance
In the context of a CX transformation against the backdrop of “I’m a customer, so I know what great CX looks like,” and in a world where everyone believes their opinion is just as valuable as everyone else’s, it is critical to deliberately create a program governance structure that brings together a core of senior leaders in your organization. And it needs to happen right at the beginning of your program, in the design phase, it cannot be an afterthought, and it must not be deferred. Who needs to be involved? In our experience, you should consider two tiers of governance:

1.An Executive Steering Committee with active (read: committed, engaged, and vocal) representation from the C-suite, along with a handful of empowered and passionate departments leads. This team might meet quarterly.

The focus: program updates, program performance, and the removal of roadblocks/issue escalation.

The objective: to engage the leaders of your organization with the program’s success and to provide them with a forum for discussing opportunities to enhance the program even further, to truly engage as active advocates for the transformation.

2.An Operating Committee with active representation from a handful of empowered and passionate Directors and Managers from various departments. This team might meet bi-weekly or monthly.

The focus: discussing operational needs, overcoming obstacles and transcending silos, sharing ideas, and identifying items requiring escalation to the Executive Steering Committee.

The objective: to work together to engage every member of their team in playing a role in the program’s success. To become active champions and show their teams that everyone is working together towards success.

Being “Deliberate” Needs to be “Deliberate!”
Implementing a governance structure is critical, but it will not evolve on its own, and it will not come about by chance. It needs to be deliberate. Actively involving members of your organization, at all levels, will not only allow the program to benefit from their insight, expertise, and valuable contributions, but you’ll also build into your program the appropriate forums for effective dialogue to ensure your program remains on track.

Transformations are never easy. Don’t miss the opportunity to tip the scales of success in your favor.

Tim Douek is a Principal at Strativity Group.  This blog was first published by Loyalty360 and may be found at: