Each team within any organization should have a clearly defined role. What is the role of your team?
Have you ever thought what is the goal and the role of your CX team? How does it interact with the rest of the organization? What are the rules you live by and the narratives you create for your business partners?
Working with quite a number of organizations that were just building their CX teams, I’ve noticed that often these teams are given a task to guard the Customer Experience measure across the organization. What follow is that they are evaluated based on how successfully they managed to enforce the change onto the other departments that led to the increase of that measure.
It is often an easy trap to set yourself up as a guarding dog, running around telling everybody that they are doing their job poorly. And the standard reaction to such an approach is a quintessence of a flat-out obstinate denial. Business guys look at the newly hired CX specialists with a mixture of annoyance and pity, and joyfully neglect everything they are told, quite rightfully departing from and assumption that since they were doing their job with a pretty good success before the CX team came to stick around, they can do it perfectly well as they continue working in the future. The confused CX team finds itself in a position, nobody would like to be — being omitted and ignored, and therefore frustrated with its own inability to inflict the so much desired change.
The major trouble is that the CX guys see themselves essentially as the voice of the customer within the orgnaization. They identify their role so much as facing the end users that they forget that bottom line is this: their client is not the end customer. Their clients are their colleagues. Their business partners. The CX success entirely depends on how good this relationship is. Because the CX guys are not the people who put things on the market. The business guys are. And they can choose to be inspired by their customer-centric colleagues or not. This is their choice. The job of the CX team is to convince business to do the first rather than the latter.
How to approach defining the role of the CX team?
There are three ways in which the CX team leaders could define their role within the organization.
The role of an EVALUATOR
As I mentioned before, many CX teams are created to inflict the improvements leading to the increase of the CX measure the organization adopts. So, they could set themselves up as organizational evaluators or auditors. Surely, it requires a very strong backing up from the upper management but once such a support is given, they have an open door to do so. The typical approach is to deliver quarterly results to the Management Board and have the Board be a proxy for enforcing the change onto other departments. Sure, you are not going to be liked throughout the company but once the rules of measurement are clear and transparent, and the organization accepts that customer-centricity is crucial for business success, it can work. The disadvantage of such an approach is that auditors are rarely invited to join the business team in the design process. So, if you choose to be an evaluator, you are pretty likely to stay looking at the action from the other side of the window.
The role of a HELPER
A radically opposite approach is to put yourself into a role of a helper. You approach the business partners telling them that they can come to you with any customer-centric problem and you will help them to solve it using the design processes and techniques (or more accurately you will do it for them). Such a role is of being of service and could be best compared to the internal user research and design agency. Your business partners come to you and you run projects for them. Certainly, you are going to be liked especially if you do a good job and help them to achieve better business results. The dark side is that, although you are in the midst of the action, likely you are not going to be recognized as a part of that success, which will naturally fall into the hands of your business colleagues. And if you choose to be a helper, it is unlikely that you will ever be able to remain responsible for measuring the overall CX-related progress of the organization. Can you imagine a helper who is also an auditor? Unlikely, right?
The role of a COACH
There is a third way though: a coaching approach. It requires a few mindset changes though. Firstly, you need to see yourself as a trainer of the entire organization in your own skills and you need not to be afraid that at some point you might find yourself out of the job. Actually, I would consider it the ultimate success if you did. The second thing is a change in the perception of why you measure the CX progress in the first place. There needs to be a shift from seeing any measure as evaluative to seeing it as educational. By making these two mental shifts you can combine guarding a CX KPI with doing project work and also helping others experience such work on their own skin. There is a dark side to it as well though (there always is:) Firstly, this approach, as much as it might be the most optimal one, is also the slowest one with respect to inflicting change. Furthermore, you need not only to work on the mindset shift of your business colleagues but above all on the Management Board convincing them that the measure they set out as evaluative is not going to do what they expect: it is not going to measure the outcomes but it is going to assess the progress towards your organization becoming customer-centric. And this is not an easy job to do.
Combining the roles
It is possible to determine one role that fits all business divisions in the organization. However, the reality demands some flexibility in the approach. With some departments you will need to be more of a Helper, with others a stronger Evaluator. However, regardless of it, I would recommend for any CX team leader to think for a moment which role is the foundation for their team and to create a set of principles around it. In such a way the speed of spreading the message about the value of customer-centricity and inflicting a change while maintaining consistency of action will be much greater. Because the worst situation is when you don’t know who you are and how you define your role. Then the role will be imposed onto you by the business. And I am quite convinced it is not going to be the role you would like to find yourself in in the first place.
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