How To Deal With A Leadership Team That Isn’t CX Oriented

aerial photo of pine trees

Six months ago, you were hired into a Customer Experience Management role within a large company.

Since being in the role, you’ve done a ton of analysis, discovered where the major customer-affecting problems are within the company and generated some quick wins. You feel like you’re making headway but know that without major change you’re not going to get much further.

So you book in an hour with the Executive Leadership Team to present compelling arguments for change. Your comprehensive plan will reduce customer effort, improve customer satisfaction, and increase referrals. Importantly, you’ve backed all of your arguments with sound financial analysis.

Your recommendations include:

  • – An overhaul of KPI’s to ensure alignment of all staff behind customer-centric goals,
  • – An audit of internal processes with the aim of reducing the burden on frontline staff,
  • – A training program for all staff on the value of Customer Experience, and
  • – An evaluation of the benefits of new tools for frontline staff.

The ELT sits quietly as you deliver your presentation. You have their attention and you think you’re actually winning them over! At the end of your presentation, a few questions were asked about the cost of implementing your recommendations and how you arrived at your estimates of the benefits. Finally, the CEO says, “that was certainly very interesting. We’re going to need some time to digest all of it. Let us get back to you in a few weeks.”

A few weeks pass and you hear nothing. In the meantime, all of the issues you’d identified in your analysis continue to stifle your progress and contribute to the organisation’s CX inertia. Finally, exasperated, you email the CEO asking if any decisions had been made. The next day you receive a response saying that the budget simply isn’t available this financial year for your initiatives but that you should “keep doing the important work you’re doing”.

As passionate CX professionals, we’d all be heartbroken to find ourselves in this position. Unfortunately, it’s a reality for far too many of us.

Not every executive “gets” the value of customer centricity. For some, being in business is about making the best products, being the most efficient, or delivering the lowest prices. The success of companies that follow customer-led strategies is changing this but in the meantime, there are still leadership teams out there that do not have a customer champion within their ranks.

CX people working within these companies are swimming against the tide. It’s harder than it needs to be for them to come to work. And every internal knockback chips away at their enthusiasm and motivation to make the company a better place.

So, what can you do?

Check your company’s Mission, Vision and Values – if there’s nothing in there about customers or at the very least people, CX is not in their DNA. Stop banging your head against the wall now. Tidy up your resume and start making plans to move on.

Scale back your recommendations – change is hard, wholesale change across people, processes and systems is REALLY hard! Chunk down your recommendations to smaller, more financially palatable, more easily achieved tasks. Focus on the “moments of truth” where you can make the largest difference.

Gather data – make your case irrefutable. Speak to internal stakeholders from all departments to provide a rounded view, gather customer feedback (preferably recordings because hearing the customer’s voice is so powerful), scan the press for what your competitors are doing, scan the press for what CX leaders are doing, get prospective suppliers to provide case studies of the work they’ve done in other companies including what the results were.

Network – if there’s one thing I’ve found about the CX profession, it’s the willingness of their members to help one another. Connect with other CX managers through your personal network, through the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) or through CX Accelerator. Find out if they have ever been in the position you find yourself in and how they dealt with it.

Keep plugging away – Calvin Coolidge said “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence”. Stay optimistic that something will happen that will make your job easier. Maybe the ELT will see the light after losing a major customer, maybe someone who believes in CX will be asked to join their ranks. Change is constant – the situation you find yourself in won’t last forever. In the meantime, keep striving to achieve the little wins. And every time you make one, communicate it far and wide!



“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge

 Image courtesy of Unsplash.


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