If you are asking this question, you probably have an early stage Customer Experience Program (CEP or CXP) in place, or are thinking about it. Or if you are a market leader, you probably have a CX team in place and asking, albeit discreetly, whether you need to continue to keep it separate. There are good reasons why this question comes up almost at every company that embarks on the CX transformation journey.
A CXP is a strategic intervention. It takes time to implement and to show the direct impact of these measures, especially when there is shareholder pressure on financial performance which translates to all round pressure on budgets. In this post we are going to examine the most popular argument for and against having a separate CX team.
Against creating a separate CX team: No need for a separate CX team. We’re already measuring CSAT; let us task the same team to look at CX too.
At its core, this argument is based on two very valid points.
The first is that CX is mostly about measuring NPS (or a similar metric), correlating with other metrics and taking action(s) to improve those metrics; that the processes, tools and techniques are already mature in an existing part of the organization (Customer Service); and we can leverage this knowledge and capability.
The second is that when started this way, you can actually get some work done in a small way – perhaps some pilots – before you go upstairs and ask for bigger budgets. This early work could provide some proof points on the need for ROI, which makes budget approvals somewhat easier.
In short, if you can answer “Yes” to “Do we have a strong Customer Satisfaction measurement and improvement program with a dedicated team?”, then you should just leverage the capabilities and successes of the existing team. A good way to start when you have decided on this course of action is to:
- Take a find-and-fix target first. Choose an area of visible impact in a short time interval (2-3 months is probably just right; perhaps not more than 6 months). If you succeed in making a difference, the results should be easy to see, relate to your efforts and if possible, quantifiable in the sense of ROI.
- Add a few CX-related questions and metrics (focused on your selected target area from step 1 above) to ongoing efforts. Collect some data, and form some baseline metrics.
- Design your interventions and keep collecting the data from step 2 above.
- Depending on the nature of your business, there will be some lag between your interventions and their visible impact on your metrics. Factor that in, and apply any course corrections until you’re satisfied you have enough data to demand a bigger budget.
For creating a separate CX team
If CX is an organization wide effort, how can one small team get it done?
While we are still in the early stages of CX adoption, companies that have a separate CX team in place have no doubt that CX is a strategic goal that needs alignment and effort from the whole organization. They have envisaged two important functions that a dedicated CX team performs. These functions are critical to the program’s sustainability and success.
- CX Professionals bring in much needed expertise, tools, techniques relevant to current state of practice of CX. Without this, your CX effort is likely to be based on common sense and assumptions around how customer orientation and customer satisfaction closely correlate to CX.
- The importance of metrics – their measurement, analysis and reporting – in CX cannot be over emphasized. While NPS is important, by itself NPS doesn’t give any actionable insights of how you might improve your CX. Only an independent CX Team would be able to provide unbiased metrics reporting and action recommendations.
One implementation pitfall you may want to avoid at any cost?
Often CX metrics help isolate issues to the performance of a particular department or team. Therefore, it is not at all uncommon for most functions to resist CX data collection. If you want to embed CX practices into the entire organization, delinking it from individual or team performances, and stopping it at the department level might be the way to proceed.
Bringing it all to a useful conclusion
Most often you would want a separate – nay, an independent – CX Team reporting into your C-suite. There are only two situations when you might take the other route and load the responsibility of CX on to an existing team.
- When you are just getting started and would rather take a few small steps first to test the waters and gather some evidence to support your ROI claims. This is clearly a temporary situation just to get started. This should lead to a CX Team creation sooner than later.
- When you have a strong Customer Satisfaction Improvement program with a dedicated team and extending their function is a lower-barrier path than creating a separate team.
While a separate AND independent CX Team reporting into your C-suite has a considerable positive impact, lack of a separate team may not even make it to the top THREE risks to your CX program. And they are – lack of management buy-in, not linking CX goals with department performance, and inability to create the right culture and environment at your workplace. (Read our earlier blog on this!)
So there it is – pro and con of having a separate CX team. Do you have other valid and strong pros and cons based on your CX program implementation at your business? Let’s get the discussion going.