As the type of person who is constantly seeking connections of all sorts – physical, emotional, strategic – I find myself drawing parallels between my personal and work life on a daily basis. And given I have three young children, this can not only be quite comical and frustrating, but also incredibly enlightening.
Never was this truer than last night, as I heard “Mommy? Mommy!” for about the 15th time, a good 45 minutes after we’d put them to bed. Any parent who’s read the book, Go the F**k to Sleep (Adam Mansbach, Akashic Books, 2011) knows exactly what was running through my head. But trying to channel the skills of my supermom friends, I sucked it up, and patiently asked, yet again, what my middle child needed to be able to fall asleep. And as I lay with him and finally heard his breathing even out, it hit me. Between my work travel, the kids’ activities, and other community commitments my husband and I have, we’d been running to and fro for the last several weeks since school had resumed. We’d been doing dinners in shifts and on the run, bedtimes had been late due to the Indian Summer we were experiencing, and we’d been lax on rules we’d always had in order to keep things running smoothly.
We have always been a family that has thrived on routine: schedules, accountabilities for each person, family rules, and standards of quality. And, as last night yet proved again, when we fall out of our routines, there are very clear signals that appear.
And as I lay on the top bunk in my son’s dark room pondering how we were ever going to reestablish our routine, I realized what I was experiencing personally sounded remarkably similar to what work lay on my desk downstairs – a client proposal for establishing CX Governance. And, like I was feeling, my clients sometimes feel the idea of CX Governance can be overwhelming. So let’s break this down piece by piece – because, while the first step can be tough, the process of establishing CX Governance itself, and the benefits, are so rewarding.
What is CX Governance?
CX Governance is the structured approach an organization takes to soliciting, responding, and taking action on feedback from customers.
“Structured approach” essentially means an organization is being deliberate about how they manage all things related to the experience their customers are having with their brand. And while being deliberate may seem simple on the surface, consider a global CX program encompassing multiple regions, diverse lines of business, 45+ languages, interfacing with millions of customers around the globe; Suddenly, we see the value of the basics: goals, accountabilities, routine (cadence), rules, and standards.
Our goal for bedtime is 8 PM, with no extra trips upstairs after the kids are down. It is a goal that is easy to measure, and has easy-to-spot indications of success or failure. The same goes for organizations – the first step in establishing CX Governance is to establish clear goals about what you are trying to achieve with your CX program and ways in which you measure your progress toward goal achievement. With this step completed, you can now begin to answer questions about who you need involved in your CX Governance structure, what each person’s role is, how frequently you need to meet, and your team’s rules of engagement, or expectations of each other.
In our household, my husband and I oversee the operation and planning, but with the schedules we keep, there’s no way we can also manage all the tasks required to keep our family happy and healthy. The same thing applies to CX Governance – roles and accountabilities are critical, from the C-Suite on down to the front lines. Without a lead advocate, one who has influence on CX and business strategy, as well as CX level of investment, a CX program may get off to a great start, but wither as interest and resources get reallocated to the next shiny object. And yet, even with the greatest of advocates and resource backing, without those who truly understand how to leverage these for impact to key areas of the business – contact centers, sales, marketing, back-office support – the program will not drive return on the investment being made, and will be forced to back burner for other programs and initiatives showing demonstrable impact. With CX program goals and KPIs in hand, you are well-positioned to identify those individuals across the organization with the greatest bearing on goal achievement. And it’s these folks who are best positioned to help you make connections between their work and your company’s CX aspirations.
As demonstrated in my example above, routines are critical to sustainable operations in my household. And yet, even with the best of intentions, our life can get messy. Even the best laid plans can fall apart. As we all can attest to, our organizations are in a constant state of flux. In this environment, the value of establishing a routine, or “cadence” by which you can review progress on CX initiatives and projects becomes apparent. It is an opportunity for those core CX Governance team members, each juggling numerous and diverse work efforts, to come together to jointly focus on progress and strategically plan for the future.
Rules and Standards
One of our family’s rules has always been that electronic devices are only weekend entertainment devices – they are not allowed during the week outside of homework. Sometimes we forget the value of rules – but then things like last night happen. Upon my 16th trip down the stairs, my husband offered an astute observation: “You know, this happens every time he uses his iPad instead of burning off energy outside.” So simple, so basic, something we’ve always known, but in the flurry of daily life, something we stopped paying attention to. Rules keep us safe, rules keep us happy, rules keep us functioning at optimal levels.
The same goes in CX programs. Think back to the global organization I described – multiple global regions, languages, cultural norms, lines of business, and most importantly, customer needs. There is no doubt these things call for some level of program customization. But before that customization is done, one must consider both customer and business needs. For example, often an individual consumer is a customer of multiple lines of an organization’s business; is this individual being asked for feedback by both entities? If so, is this being done congruently? Or in such a way that the customer may wonder if the right and left hands are talking to one another, which ultimately impact brand perception. And who among us hasn’t received this question from the C-Suite: “So, how do these results compare across lines of business/regions/fill-in-the-blank?” Without the CX Governance team establishing detailed program rules and standards, the program could be at risk for delivering on its stated goals.
The Final Word
When I present this idea of CX Governance, I’m often met with groans, and comments like “we need to be agile,” and “we need to keep it simple.” And frankly, I couldn’t agree more. When CX Governance is done right, it allows for agility, flexibility, autonomy, employee discretion, and minimal complexity. I had an employee say to me once, “I’m pretty independent, but let me know where the guideposts are and I’ll fly.” Establishing these “guideposts” is exactly what CX Governance done right should accomplish – it should allow your employees – and your CX programs – to fly!
And yes, in case you’re curious, today begins the process of reestablishing our household routines, which we know will result in all of us being more productive and pleasant – which ultimately makes our time together so much more enjoyable!