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I originally wrote today’s post for SurveyMonkey. A modified version appeared on their site on August 14, 2023.

It’s hard to believe that executives still need to be convinced that they should be listening to the voice of the customer and making decisions based on customers’ needs, not their own. Without their commitment, resources – whether financial, human, capital, or time – will not be forthcoming for your feedback programs. You don’t just need resource commitment; you also need their commitment to stick with it, to see it through, to success.

It’s important to note because SurveyMonkey uncovered in their latest State of CX Report the top areas for which customer experience professionals would like to see more budget: customer feedback programs (52%) and product feedback programs (47%).

The State of CX

In their report, SurveyMonkey proposes a few tips on how to garner that investment, including:

  • Communicate the value of feedback programs: Clearly articulate the benefits and outcomes of feedback programs to stakeholders and decision-makers.
  • Demonstrate the return on investment: Develop a compelling business case by showcasing the ROI of feedback programs. Showcase how these programs can lead to improved customer satisfaction, increased customer retention, enhanced product development, and, ultimately, higher revenue.
  • Leverage industry benchmarks: Use industry benchmarks to highlight how other organizations have successfully leveraged feedback programs to their advantage.
  • Align feedback programs to business objectives: Show how feedback programs align with the organization’s overall business objectives and strategies. Showcase the ability to drive innovation, improve products and services, enhance the customer experience, and gain a competitive edge in the market.
  • Highlight the cross-functional benefits of feedback programs: Showcase how feedback can inform marketing strategies, guide product roadmap decisions, and improve customer support processes.
More Ideas to Get Executive Commitment

I often say that you’ve got to appeal to both the left and right sides of your executives’ brains to get their understanding, support, and commitment. The tips above are solid; they all address the left (or analytical/numbers) side of the brain. To appeal to the right (or emotional/creative) side of the brain, you need to:

  • Create a customer immersion program: Have executives live a day in the lives of their customers – with their customers – to experience what customers go through when they (try to) do business with your brand.
  • Tell customer stories: Share things like what needs they are trying to fulfill or problems they are trying to solve, how they interact with the company, what their experiences are, or what the brand means to them. Use comments from surveys or social media or record some customer interviews to bring their stories to life. Humanize their experiences.
  • Host journey mapping workshops: Map what customers go through to complete some tasks with your organization. It’s eye opening! I’ve seen many CEOs sit in on these workshops and subsequently provide the needed commitment to move forward with eliminating the pain the brand causes their customers!
  • Create an undercover executive program: There’s no better way for executives to gain a new perspective of what it’s like to serve your customers than doing it themselves, allowing them to see how employees interact with customers (and vice versa). Similarly, have them mystery shop your retail locations, your sales department, your receptionist, your contact center, and more.
Getting Everyone Involved

Getting support for your feedback programs doesn’t only come in the form of executive commitment (for the resources, etc.) but also in the form of employee involvement and engagement. After all, someone’s got to do the work to improve the experience; that’s not necessarily on you as the customer experience professional. Your job is to gather the data, analyze it, glean and share insights, and follow up to ensure that the data is being used as intended.

So, those are a lot of things that you need to do to garner the commitment you need from everyone involved. No one ever said this was going to be easy, but it’s definitely going to be worth it!

Where to begin? What can you do to effectively launch a customer feedback program with commitment from all parties involved?

1. Discover and Prepare
  • Identify key stakeholders who have the authority to allocate resources and make strategic decisions, as well as those who are influential across the organization and can champion this work throughout.
  • Do stakeholder interviews to get a solid grasp on stakeholder readiness/engagement, organization goals, desired outcomes, and key metrics that drive and appeal to them.
  • Conduct research on customer needs, industry benchmarks, and best practices related to customer feedback programs. Know your stuff!
  • Gather data and insights, e.g., metrics, feedback trends, operational data and metrics, financial impact analysis, and competitive analysis to support your business case.
  • Research and identify suitable enterprise-wide feedback platforms to support your customer feedback program.
2. Define Program Objectives
  • Define the objectives and desired outcomes for the program.
  • Align those objectives with the broader CX strategy and organizational goals.
  • Determine success metrics. How will you track your progress? What will it look like when the work you’re doing is successful? And how will you measure that?
3. Build Your Business Case
  • Articulate why the program is important, what you’re trying to achieve, and what it means for key constituents, i.e., employees, customers, and the business.
  • Outline how the program aligns with the organization’s strategic goals and then demonstrate its potential impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue.
  • Create a skunkworks project, i.e., run a pilot program in one department or one channel to have actual data and outcomes to present in the business case.
  • Quantify the financial benefits by estimating potential cost savings, revenue growth, and customer lifetime value improvements.
4. Demonstrate Quick Wins
  • Similar to, or an extension of, the above-mentioned skunkworks project, find some smaller-scale initiatives or pilot projects that can generate quick wins and near-term tangible results.
  • Implement those initiatives and monitor their outcomes.
  • Gather data and metrics to showcase the positive impact of these early successes, such as improved customer satisfaction, cost savings or efficiencies, and increased revenue.
5. Secure Executive Sponsorship
  • Present your business case to your executives and stakeholders.
  • Share your skunkworks project and/or quick wins as further supporting evidence.
  • Highlight the benefits of the program and how it aligns with desired business outcomes.
  • Ask for resources but know exactly what you’re asking for.
  • Communicate the roles that executives and stakeholders will play in this effort.
6. Educate and Communicate
  • Develop your communication plan that outlines how you’ll educate both stakeholders and employees in order to create awareness about the program and its objectives, the importance of customer feedback, and how feedback will be used.
  • Conduct workshops and training sessions to share insights, industry trends, success stories, and best practices related to customer feedback programs.
  • Be sure to share updates, progress, and success stories to keep stakeholders and employees engaged and informed about the program’s impact.
7. Establish Governance
  • Set up governance structure committees (CX Champions and Culture Committee) and leverage influential advocates within the organization who are passionate about customer experience and have credibility among their peers.
  • Define their roles and responsibilities.
  • Work with this cross-functional committee to amplify the message, gain support, and encourage others to get involved.
  • Provide committee members with data, insights, information, and training they need to promote the importance of the customer feedback program.
  • Define the operating model portion of governance, as well. This includes the people, tools, data, and processes that will drive this program.

These steps should set you on the path to launch an effective feedback program. Next step is to launch the program, gather feedback and combine with those breadcrumbs of data that customers leave behind as they interact and transact with your brand, analyze that data, share the data and insights with those who need to act on it, and then build that muscle that ensures the customer voice is included in everything that the business does.

People do not follow uncommitted leaders. Commitment can be displayed in a full range of matters to include the work hours you choose to maintain, how you work to improve your abilities, or what you do for your fellow workers at personal sacrifice. ~ Stephen Gregg, Ethix Corp

ABOUT ANNETTE

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2022, she published her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business [Advantage|ForbesBooks], which is available to purchase on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other outlets around the world! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your EX and CX game.

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