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Although customer experience has been around for a long time, hiring for CX has become a greater priority for executives and funding committees only in the last five years. With that shift comes the rise of the CX Team in the organizational structures of banks, insurance companies, consumer brands, and B-to-B entities.
How to Build a CX Team
Within the CX Team, the Customer Experience Director (or Customer Insights Director) leads the charge. Let’s say this is your role in your organization. Typically, you are the company’s first CX hire, tasked with building a team from scratch. Likely, in that first year you have to assemble your CX Team, you have limited funding until you prove the value of investing more in customer experience efforts.
The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.
Hiring without a Customer Insights Team in Place
The CX cycle begins and ends with customer insights (the Voice of the Customer program). With no customer insights team in place, it is hard to know where to begin. If that team does not exist, your first order of business is to set it up. If you only have funding for one hire, hire a customer insights expert to learn what is not working well for your customers and what measures you need to take to improve the customer journeys.
Hire a manager-level professional with a strong analytical background who is not afraid of doing the grunt work in the beginning. You will need strong insights to convince your leadership of the need for investment in CX.
Hiring with a Customer Insights Team in Place
Once you know the parts of the customer experience that need to be addressed, you can hire an operations person – preferably an internal hire. An operations person on your CX Team helps you learn why your organization is not able to deliver great customer experience. An operations person is also invaluable for change management.
This CX Team member knows how to “sell” the changes in procedures and processes to the frontline. He/she is also invaluable with testing and trialing new solutions in the field. I promise you this hire is not going to be afraid to stand in front of customers and try new ways of doing things. That’s the kind of power you want to bring to drive the customer experience changes in your business.
Hiring with Customer Insights and Operations Expertise in Place on Your CX Team
Once you have the two foundational pieces of customer experience – the insights and the frontline know-how – you can hire a Project Manager or a Program Manager. The size of your portfolio will determine whether you should hire a project manager or a program manager.
If you have scoped one or two projects and have sufficient funding for them, it may be better to start with a Project Manager. If you have a bigger mandate and a higher level of responsibilities, hire a Program Manager for your CX Team. You will need this person to run the funding and reporting of your efforts smoothly. He/she will also hold different parts of the organization accountable for their pieces of your CX projects.
Hiring When You Have All of the Above on Your CX Team
The next two recommendations may surprise you, but they are critical to a successful CX Team: a dedicated brand manager and a finance person. If you have the basic CX hiring in place, and you have significant budget and responsibilities, you need to start doing some internal and external PR. You also need to maintain your credibility with finance in order to secure future funding. To achieve these goals, you need to add a dedicated brand designer and a finance person to your team.
These two positions on the CX Team are the hardest to sell to senior leadership because they technically exist somewhere else in the organization. The key here is to show why these professionals need to be dedicated to your Customer Experience program. For your CX Team to succeed, you have a lot of creative to do. If you are a change agent for the brand you are servicing (as you should be), you have to tell stories to your internal stakeholders through internal PR as well as to external stakeholders and the media.
Your success depends on a brand designer and finance expert more than you may anticipate. When I did not have a finance pro on my CX Team, I ended up doing the finance role at night, since I had that skillset from my previous life. That, of course, is not ideal.
Hiring members of the CX Team requires you to take a long view of customer experience design, execution, and goals. Internal and external hiring for CX forces you to look at the short and long-term goals of your CX strategies, how to implement them for your customers, and how to communicate them to the C-Suite.
As a result, CX hiring is another good exercise in doing CX right for your customers and for your brand.
Liliana Petrova, CCXP is a visionary and a proven leader in the field of customer experience and innovation. She is an inspirational leader who pioneered a new customer-centric culture, energizing the more than 15,000 JetBlue employees with her vision. She has been recognized for her JFK Lobby redesign and facial recognition program with awards from Future Travel Experience and Popular Science. Ms. Petrova is co-founder of DoingCXRight, a resource for customer experience professionals across industries. She is committed to creating seamless, successful experiences for customers and delivering greater value for brands.