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In this two-part series, I’ll  outline how to stand up a team of CX Champions to activate your customer experience transformation efforts.

Do you have a governance structure in place for your customer experience transformation efforts? If not, it’s time to get that done! Not having a governance structure is one of the 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience.

Without a governance structure in place, you perpetuate silo thinking and fail to achieve cross-functional alignment, involvement, and commitment. Why? Because a governance structure is about oversight and execution. It outlines people, roles, responsibilities, rules, and guidelines when it comes to executing your customer experience strategy.

Changing the organization’s DNA to be more customer-centric is not a journey for one person to undertake; this is an organization-wide effort. As such, the governance structure is critical to the foundation of any customer experience transformation. It outlines who will ensure that there is alignment and accountability across the organization, and it defines roles and responsibilities key to the transformation, including a core CX program team, an executive sponsor, an executive/steering committee, and cross-functional champions.

It’s this latter group – the cross-functional champions – that I’ll focus on now. To simplify, I’ll call them CX Champions.

What is a CX Champion?
A CX Champion is an employee who is engaged, loves the business and loves customers, and is enthusiastic about delivering a great experience for your customers. She knows the company’s vision, mission, and purpose well, and she lives the core values every day. She understands the CX vision, believes in the outcomes, and is committed to be a part of the transformation.

What other traits or qualities do CX Champions have?
They are well-respected and are often recognized as role models when it comes to customer service and customer experience. They are team players, work well with others, and have – or can build – strong cross-functional relationships. They are excellent communicators. They are influential in their departments and, perhaps, across the organization; they know people, the right people. They are leaders and add credibility to the transformation effort. They might or might not be managers, but they certainly have deep knowledge of their functional areas and how they mesh with other areas of the business, and they can hold others accountable for the work that needs to be done. They may have experience successfully executing change initiatives. And they are flexible and willing to learn.

That’s a lot! No, they are not unicorns. Trust me – these people exist in your organization!

What does the CX Champions team look like?
They are referred to as cross-functional champions because there should be representatives from each department on the team. This helps break down silos and allows for each department’s voice, feedback, and perspectives to be brought to the team and heard.

How many team members are there?

That depends on how many cross-functional departments you have. And if you’ve got multiple business units, is there a corporate shared services group from which you can pull folks? If not, be sure to get business unit representation, too. If you’ve got global office locations, you’ll want to consider representation across the globe.

Who does the CX Champions team report to?
Within the governance structure, the CX Champions team ideally reports to the core CX team, but they also get guidance and direction from the steering committee, who prioritizes and approves the various change initiatives on the docket.

Why do I need CX Champions?
There’s a great quote from Benjamin Franklin that’s so fitting here: Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn. Get employees involved in the process. When that happens, they feel like they’re a part of it. Don’t just force change on your employees; give them some ownership in the change. They’ll be more accepting of it, without a doubt.

The core CX team can’t make the changes happen. The changes must be activated by your base, throughout the organization, by the people who are delivering the experience that needs to be improved. You’ll need folks who can take data and insights and operationalize them within their departments; they know best what needs to be done and how any changes or improvements connect to – and affect – other departments.

Think of the transformation as a grassroots effort. Use people throughout the organization to spread the word, make the changes, model the behavior, and more. According to a report from SAS and HBR: “A coordinated approach to customer experience management – and one that is built from the ground up – is more likely to take root. ‘You don’t want customer experience to sound like just another corporate initiative… the latest flavor of the week.’”

How do you find CX Champions?
There are at least two approaches to finding CX Champions. (1) You can set some parameters (see the traits outlined previously) and ask for volunteers; or (2) you can accept nominations based on those same traits, e.g., reputation, well-respected, team player, easy to work with, leader, change management knowledge or experience, department and inter-departmental knowledge, etc.

What is the CX Champion’s role?
CX Champions are change agents! They aren’t expected to do the work (though they might) but to influence and to motivate others. They facilitate and champion change initiatives. They are an extension of the core CX team because the core team is typically small and can’t be everywhere and do everything – and don’t have the cross-functional or departmental expertise or rapport/connections to get things done.

CX Champions are the voice of the customer and the voice of the employee; they advocate for customers and for employees and bring their voices to the core CX team and to the steering committee.

Communication with CX Champions is a two-way street: (1) they share feedback, insights, quick wins, and successes from the core CX team with their departments, but (2) they also share feedback, insights, learnings, quick wins or successes, changes made, etc. with the core CX team.

In addition, they:

  • role model and train fellow employees on customer-centric behaviors
  • spread CX vision and knowledge across the organization
  • help to align their fellow employees with the vision and the cause – rally the troops
  • tell the change
    story and teach others about the intended experience
  • inspire and motivate co-workers to become customer-focused and customer-centric
  • deliver brown bag lunches on the latest employee and customer experience findings
  • problem solve and brainstorm solutions for employee and customer issues
  • don’t necessarily implement the solutions (unless they can) – that’s left to the folks with the expertise to do so
  • map customer journeys
  • and more!

That sounds like it takes a lot of an employee’s time. Does it?
This role could take up about 20% of an employee’s time, but quite honestly, in the end, isn’t it all about the customer and the customer experience?! That’s what their jobs are, day in and day out: to serve the customer. Being a CX Champion translates to a more-focused and more-deliberate way that they work going forward.

For some, this role could take up a lot more time, maybe up to 50%, depending on the severity and the volume of issues, etc. In other words, how bad are things really? Don’t short change on time if that’s what is needed to get the job done right, right now.

In the second-part of this series, I’ll answer questions about team meetings, empowering the CX Champions, and what training they’ll need in order to take on this role.

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. -Vince Lombardi