Chief Customer Officer (CCO) Roundtable On CX Maturity

“Customer experience (CX) maturity” was the topic of Forrester’s recent chief customer officer (CCO) roundtable meeting. Based on a recent report by Megan Burns called “Customer Experience Maturity Defined,” the customer experience leaders present took Forrester’s self-test of key CX practices, discussed their own company’s strengths and weaknesses, and shared successes and challenges they faced at their companies in interactive discussions throughout the day.

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion.

Governance and project investment. A significant portion of the discussion revolved around customer experience governance and getting funds for projects. There was clear agreement in the room on needing CX leaders at the top levels of management. For instance, the CCOs were saying:

  • “Customer experience loses at the corporate budgeting level. You need to be there or have an exec like the CFO fighting for you there.”
  • “Get on the decision-making body for investments and make sure you at least have veto power over projects.”
  • “When I’m making the business case for CX-related projects and pushing it up to the C-level, I always build ranges into the outcomes (e.g., reduce churn by 0.5% [worst case], 1% [middle case], and 2% [best case]; increase word of mouth by 2% [worst case], 5% [middle case], 10% [best case]). I get less argument about even the low number . . . people are overly optimistic.”

One of the most interesting discussions focused on getting risk/compliance people into the process:

  • “Include the ‘professional naysayers’ early (e.g., risk/legal/compliance). I’ve been able to get them as big advocates. I invited a guy from risk to come along with my team to visit a university design school that was doing a project for us. By the end, he was pointing out things like disclosures that didn’t provide customers any value.”
  • “We got someone from risk into our cross-functional team. At one point he came up to me and said, ‘Don’t tell my boss I said this, but I think we could fix this process.’”

Strategy. Everyone at the table agreed that having a clear customer experience strategy is important, although some admitted that their strategies were still “ad hoc.” Explanations included:

  • “People get uncomfortable making priorities.”
  • “You have to understand your customer strategy. Come up with something simple that doesn’t get bogged down at the functional level.”

Culture. Attendees kept coming back throughout the day to the importance of culture.

  • “I spend 100% of my marketing budget targeting our engineering department. I try to catch engineers doing the right thing and lionize them. It’s not about external advertising until we’re getting it right internally.”
  • “We developed an internal ‘Brand Ambassador’ program in which we recognized 40-50 nominated employees. Last year we sent this group to spend time at Disney Institute. We thought it was a good way to build on the passion they already have.”
  • A couple of other ideas for building culture included: a “stupid policies contest,” in which employees were asked to submit stupid policies that got in the way of delivering good customer experiences . . . and the top 10 were given awards; and a “words we use” routine, in which people were required to put some small amount of money in a jar if they used words that were internal jargon rather than words that were customer-friendly.

Overall, CCOs at the roundtable believe that the work of driving customer experience maturity at their companies is an ongoing a process, rather than an initiative with a specific end date. As customers change their behavior and motivations, the practices that the companies put in place will help them to adapt more rapidly and uncover new opportunities.

These discussions took place on September 27, 2011, at a member meeting for Forrester’s customer experience executive program. The program is a peer networking group of select chief customer officers from leading companies worldwide. Learn more at http://www.forrester.com/LeadershipBoards/MarketingPrograms.