All CX leaders need to have a well developed business acumen. Join Ruth Crowley, Alec Dalton and Janelle Mansfield, MBA, in this conversational blog and video post.
1. What is the most important business skill a CX leader should master?
Ruth: When first considering this question my initial thought went to empathy but of course that's a behavior! There are many important skills for the leaders of the future and I would first recommend to CX Leaders is if you do not have strengths in some areas, partner with people that do! Elevate the output through inclusion, integration and collaboration.
I would also suggest CX Leaders consider Design Thinking as part of their skills development. The ability to look more broadly at a scenario to ensure we are solving the right problems for the people we are serving. Listening intently to alternate points of view in a creative problem-solving , non-linear way. Design Thinking has a human-centered core allowing for an iterative process. Employ the theory of "Diverge/Converge" to get to the best right answer. Be open to discovering the best right answer.
Alec: An essential skill for business success is the ability to build solid business cases to justify CX initiatives. In addition to providing structure to proposals requesting support from leaders, the process of creating a business case requires careful consideration of the costs and benefits of projects and programs. Part of this consideration also includes multidisciplinary assessments of the impact a change will have on not only customers, but also employees, suppliers, technology, etc. Inherently, a business case requires partnership with stakeholders that can help champion the cause at hand.
Janelle: In addition to being able to build a solid business case, leaders need to understand all elements of the business model. They should spend time getting to know 9 key elements of a business. They should also spend time understanding how each functional leader is measured, what they are accountable for and what success looks like for them.
2. What 3 CX tools / concepts / processes should CX leaders help their colleagues better understand?
Interpreting Analytics: not to defend a point of view - but to really consider data and facts as foundational.
Journey Mapping: a visual articulation of reality so people "see" where the opportunities are.
Facilitating collaborative cross-functional team sessions: this ensures the best thinking, to get the best ideas on the table and to work through any objections for shared understanding and ultimately, alignment. The unified view is invaluable. Critical to the process is listening vs. presenting a singular point of view. Continuation is as important as activation.
Alec: There are many methods CX leaders should include in their technique "toolbox," but here are three I find particularly useful for appraising the business impacts of CX:
Service blueprints: This "mega customer journey map" shows not only the experience of customers, but also the underlying processes needed to deliver each experience. This tool highlights the operational implications of CX, and also outlines the roles of customers, employees, suppliers, and technology. It is especially helpful for gaining a holistic understanding of a customer experience and everything happening "behind the scenes."
Cost of quality analysis: This framework can help CX leaders balance the costs of "poor quality" (e.g. defects, refunds, negative word-of-mouth) and the costs of "good quality" (e.g. product/service design, training, quality assurance). My chapter in Customer Experience 2 shows how this technique can be executed for businesses seeking an "optimal" cost level for a CX operation.
Cost-benefit analysis: This classic technique, too often underutilized, plots the costs of an initiative against the probable returns on any investment. It is useful for determining whether or not investments will be justified with gainful returns, and it can also be used for comparing multiple options to select the one most beneficial.
Understanding people: any of the tools that help leaders better understand people, whether its customers, employees or stakeholders would be incredibly. Tools such as customer personas, customer typing and/or empathy mapping
Understanding how customers experience the entire lifecycle: all leaders should be able to look at the customer's journey from the outside in, be able to understand that their journey usually involves multiple vendors, reviewing online reviews, price comparison, etc. etc. To do that, I'd encourage each leader to become familiar with the concept of journey mapping.
Understanding what the competition delivers from an experience perspective: leaders should all be familiar with what the competitions / substitutes experience is like. This requires some heavy lifting, but is a great opportunity for cross-functional teaming and sharing.
Listen to the full interview:
Who is Alec Dalton? Alec Dalton, CRDE, CHIA is a service scientist specializing in CX management and hospitality operations. He currently serves as Senior Manager of Global Quality for Marriott International, and as an Advisory Board Member of HorizonCX. Alec previously operated luxury hotels for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. In 2018, Hotel Management Magazine named him to the “30 Under 30” list of rising hospitality leaders. Alec’s writings include co-authorship of both books in the Customer Experience series.
Who is Ruth Crowley? Ruth Crowley is Vice President, Merchandise & Brand Strategy, Hudson Group which is part of Dufry International the largest Global Travel Retailer. She has worked with iconic brands including Lowe's Home Improvement (Fortune 100), Harley-Davidson, Nickelodeon, Universal Studios, M&M Mars and Host Marriott, in US and Global Markets. Applying diverse experience across functions and channels, Ruth is tireless in the work to amplify Customer Experience to drive differentiation and results. Ruth also works with the University of North Texas College of Merchandising and Hospitality. She is on the Board of Governors and serves as Student Mentor and Exec in Residence. (UNT is the first College in the US with a degree program in Digital Retailing and in Customer Experience. Pretty proud of getting those on the curriculum!)
Who is Janelle Mansfield of Amplified Customer Experience: Janelle Mansfield is a Customer Experience Consultant and she loves helping other CX professionals be successful and achieve their professional goals. She likes to help by allowing her clients to hone their skills through consultative coaching and deliverable review. She also acts as a fractional Chief Customer Officer for businesses who aren’t yet able to invest in a full-time CXO.
She offers customizable consulting services that are tailored to your level of Customer Experience maturity, including consulting, journey mapping, experience design, customer service audits, coaching and deliverable review.
Take the complimentary Maturity Assessment at: https://forms.gle/LeYJqt9Qu96HMshRA