To transform an organisation into one that is more customer centric is a complex task that requires many different skills. Customer experience is multi-disciplinary. Those who succeed in the profession do so because they possess a number of different skills or are part of a team comprised specialists in each skill.
In this post, we want to delve into what those skills are and how we would prioritise each if we were building a CX team from the ground up. We will also provide a recommended resource for anyone looking to improve their knowledge in a specific area.
The 8 skills required by any CX team are:
Let’s take a look at each.
At its core, creating a strategy is about setting realistic goals and determining the tactics that will be used to achieve them. But the strategy function within a CX team is also very much about the strategy’s implementation. Once the strategy has been developed, negotiation and influencing skills are required to garner support from executives and get them to contribute investment and remove roadblocks. More very specific skills are then required to deeply engage the organisation’s workforce around the common objectives that are linked to that strategy.
While not required, the person in this role is often an extroverted visionary. Someone who envisages the end-state, describes the steps to reach it, and then motivates and inspires others within the organisation to join the cause.
Resource: Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine
Understanding your customers is at the heart of customer experience. It is impossible to design an experience for people if you have no idea about their needs, wants, expectations, behaviours, and pain points. Customer insights can be gained in many ways and are a great way to gauge how the customer feels about the current experience. For this reason, we have included measurement with customer insights. Once customer data has been gathered, an analytics function is required to derive meaningful, actionable insight from it.
In this role, you want someone who is naturally curious who will be internally motivated to seek out answers to the questions they have about customer behaviour.
Resource: 6 Sources of Customer Understanding by CXpert
Being able to map customer journeys with your organisation is a skillset unto itself. From a character perspective, it requires empathy – the exercise is about walking in your customer’s shoes and trying to understand not just what they were doing at each touchpoint but thinking and feeling as well. Then there’s the organisational skills required to get the right people in the room, the communication and presentation skills needed when standing out the front of workshops, and the analytical skills required to develop personas and the accompanying service design blueprints.
One of the most important things a good journey map can do is connect the employees of an organisation to the customer. It helps everyone, even those who are not in a direct customer-facing role, to know their impact on the overall customer journey and connects critical dots.
Resource: Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience by Annette Franz
Good service design is based on a deep understanding of customers in order to improve the quality of a service and the interactions between the service provider and their customers. Good service design is also the difference between an intended experience making a customer’s day or ruining it. It is an essential skill within all CX teams and one of the few that is taught. Empathy – the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes – is a necessary trait for CX Designers.
Resource: The Three Kinds of Empathy: Emotional, Cognitive, Compassionate by Enid R. Spitz
When it comes time to turn your CX-transforming initiatives from theory into reality, a project manager will be required. Having a good project manager will increase the likelihood of that initiative’s success. Once you’ve got more than one initiative in train, a program manager will be required to oversee the body of work as a whole and provide reporting on the progress of the program to the business. Within this skillset sits CX governance – the system by which the organisation is controlled and operates, and the mechanisms by which it, and its people, are held to account.
People who do well as project or program managers all have highly developed organisational skills that enable them to track the many moving parts of launching CX initiatives. They manage changes that can have impacts on people, processes and/or technology and provide regular updates to the organisation.
Resource: Managing Projects Large and Small by Harvard Business School Press
The evidence has shown time and time again that the internal experience determines the external experience. Business owners need to treat their employees how they would like them to treat customers. Traditionally, Human Relations departments have not been created with the primary goal of improving culture or EX so we would place this function within the CX team where the link between EX and CX has been recognised for years.
Empathy and sensitivity are the traits you would look for in a person managing an EX program.
Resource: Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies by Denise Lee Yohn
Becoming more customer-centric is a change; you are transforming the organisation from one state to another. Depending on which stats you look at between 60 and 70% of change initiatives fail. It is therefore crucial for every CX department to have a good grasp of change management principles in order to be successful.
Resource: Leading Change by John P Kotter
Improving CX will always involve a cycle of re-education. At its heart, a CX transformation is changing how the business thinks about its customers… and aligns them to a set of behaviours that lead to positive outcomes. L&D will be a significant part of this process.
Resource: Design for How People Learn (Voices That Matter) by Julie Dirksen
Now the question is: how would we resource a CX team if we were building one from the ground up?
The first person we would hire would be the Head of CX. They would own the strategy, be a senior influencer across the business, and provide executive level communications.
It’s very hard to exceed customer expectations if you don’t know what customer expectations are. So the second person we would hire would be a Customer Insights Manager.
Once you understand customer needs, wants, behaviours, and expectations, then you need to design an experience for them so the third person the team needs is a CX Designer. To get maximum efficiencies, we’d ensure that the person was proficient in customer journey mapping.
By this stage, you’re going to want to start implementing the new experiences you’ve designed for customers so your fourth hire should be a project manager who in time could become your program manager.
The fifth and final person we would add to the team would be an Employee Experience Manager.
We haven’t forgotten about the change management and learning and development skills that are required within any good CX team. Rather than having individuals responsible for each though, we one suggestion would be to provide change management and L&D training to all 5 members of the CX department so that ALL team members understood and were proficient in their principles and could apply them day-to-day.
We hope this has been a helpful view into the mind of a CX organism. This is only the start… with work as complicated and dynamic as experience design it’s going to require a wide array of skills. Just one more reason why having a diverse team leading the experience function is so important!
About Nate Brown
Nate Brown is a perpetual student of the world’s greatest experiences and the people who create them. After authoring The CX Primer, Brown was dubbed the “CX Influencer of the Year” by CloudCherry and a top global CX thought leader by several organizations. As a passion project, Nate created CX Accelerator, a first-class virtual community for Customer Experience professionals. Nate serves as the Senior Director of Customer Experience for Arise Virtual Solutions and can be found at a variety of conferences speaking and training on the CX topics he loves.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.
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