An Ambitious First 90 Days for a CXO

Annette Franz
Posted by Annette Franz Guest Blogger Monday, February 27, 2017 - 13:45

Annette has led Consulting Services departments for several companies that focus on improving both the customer experience and the employee experience by utilizing their software platforms to facilitate listening to and operationalizing the voice of the constituent. Annette started her career in this space as a VOC consultant at J.D. Power and Associates and has been working with clients to transform their cultures and experiences for more than 20 years. In 2011, Annette began her blog, CX Journey™, as a way to share her learnings and experiences from the last 20 years. Her blog is currently syndicated on CustomerThink, Yahoo Small Business Advisors, FutureLab, Business2Community, and more, and she's a guest blogger and ghost writer for several others. She was also invited to be a part of the Employee Happiness Tips, Tricks, and Tools site as one of 26 world-renowned authors committed to sharing tips and tricks for improving the employee experience. 2014 accolades include: CXPA CX Impact Award, #45 of The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter by Business Insider, Top 10 of 2014 Top 50 Most Active Influencers in #CX – Customer Experience by MindTouch, #1 of Top 100 Big Data and Customer Experience Influencers by Onalytica, #11 Executive Top 60 Customer Experience Influencers by SAP, and a top contributor in Customer Experience and Leadership for CustomerThink and Business2Community. She is passionate about helping companies understand the importance of the employee experience and its role in delivering an exceptional customer experience, as well as how to transform their cultures to ensure the customer is at the center of every conversation. Annette holds a B.S. in Management from California State University, is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), and is CEM Certified. She is an active member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), as a Board Member, SoCal Local Networking Event Team Lead, CX Expert, and CX Mentor.

Customer Experience Update
An Ambitious First 90 Days for a CXO

Few companies have an executive in place to champion the customer throughout the organization and to oversee improvement initiatives that impact the customer. Some have figured out that it's time to hire someone to fill that role, a role usually titled Customer Experience Officer (CXO), Chief Customer Officer (CCO), or Vice President of Customer Experience (CX). Because these organizations have never really focused on the customer or the customer experience, this new hire really has her work cut out for her. In this post, I'll share three important areas that the CXO should address in the early days.

What do the first 90 days on the job look for a brand new CXO/CCO/VP of CX?

On February 7, I had the pleasure of co-keynoting Quadient's CX Transformation Day virtual event with Scott Draeger of Quadient. If you missed our conversation, you can find it here.

One of the questions that Scott asked me during our session is what I'd call the Customer Experience Officer's "first 90 days." He asked me what CXOs would be doing in their early days, and my response, in a nutshell, was around information gathering and education. Let me expand a bit. Given a bit more time to consider it, I would actually put the first 90 days into three phases: info gathering, customer understanding, and strategy development. Education falls into each of those phases but certainly is important to getting everyone on board.

Phase 1: Information Gathering
Having a CXO is critical to success for any customer experience transformation. When we think transformation, we need to make real change that customers can see and feel. We're going to change the culture and ensure we increase revenue (existing customers continue to buy or buy more or new customers come on board) and decrease costs (referrals reduce sales and marketing costs and operational efficiencies reduce operating costs). This requires a huge coordination of effort; someone needs to oversee that effort.

The first step in any new role is to sit, listen, and learn. And ask questions. The CXO is going to gather information about the corporate and competitive landscape, the people, the politics, the who's who, the tools and technologies currently in place, the organization's current state of customer-centricity, current approaches to change management, any CX-type initiatives (listening, mapping, understanding, characterizing, etc.) underway, the company vision, the mission, the brand promise, corporate values, and more. Basically, she'll be getting the current state lay of the land.

At the same time, she'll be building relationships and finding partners in crime, so to speak. Who gets it and who doesn't. Who's an advocate or an ally? Who's not? Who needs to be convinced or brought on board?

And she'll want to get a sense of what employees, in general, know and understand about customer experience. This sets a baseline for where we are today versus where we need to be. At the same time, she'll be talking to folks about what customer experience is, why it's important to the success of the company, how employees impact it, and, at a high level, what the expectation is when it comes to delivering a great customer experience.

Without that foundational information, it's going to be really difficult to do anything. All this information gathering - including that which is done in Phase 2 - feeds into the third phase, developing the CX strategy.

Phase 2: Customer Understanding
While there may already be some listening and understanding efforts underway, this next phase solidifies, unifies, reinforces, and builds on these efforts to ensure that the right initiatives are underway, where and when they matter most.

During this phase, the CXO is going to again listen and learn while getting more hands on in making sure that things are moving in the right direction, as the team: listens to customers, characterizes them (persona research and development), and maps the current state of various experiences/journeys. She'll use this information not only for design work that lies ahead but also to educate employees about the customer experience, how they impact it, and where it needs to be fixed.

This is also a good time to start talking to HR and the executive team about the employee experience and how critical it is to focus on that in order to deliver a great customer experience. This will feed into hiring practices and onboarding and training programs that will set the employee off on the right foot from Day One.

And finally, she'll want to identify other constituents critical to the customer experience ecosystem and other voices that the organization will want to listen to, using their feedback to improve both their experience and the customer experience.

Phase 3: Strategy Development
The foundational work in the first two phases lead to - and feed into - the development of the CX strategy that is to be executed on going forward. A lot is going on at this point, including developing the strategy, getting the right players (governance) into place and in alignment, educating and aligning the organization, putting training and communication plans and initiatives into place, getting to work, and securing some quick wins to begin to tell the ROI story and to build the business case.

Don't be fooled by the short descriptor for Phase 3. There's a lot of heavy lifting going on!

Given that the average CXO tenure is 24 months, they've got to move to prove that this is a worthy endeavor. And, in turn, extend that average tenure!

What do you think? Is that too much to ask for in the first 90 days?

Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day. -Frances Hesselbein