You probably already got the memo that customer experience is the new competitive battlefield. In fact, I’d argue that customer experience is fast becoming the top imperative of modern business.
But while we all generally agree on the importance of customer experience, it’s one of those things that’s easy to say and hard to do. The companies that get it right exhibit certain behaviors—behaviors that don’t happen by accident.
We’ll be exploring this topic in depth as part of an ongoing research series from Gartner for Marketing Leaders, where we look at the patterns and exemplars of exceptional customer experience leadership.
More on this particular research soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share the three overarching patterns of the most successful customer experience programs.
Think of it as an iron triangle, where three mutually interdependent, mutually reinforcing investments propel your customer experience ambitions forward.
The best customer experience programs are:
- Initiated by leadership—well beyond executive sponsorship alone, CX programs require senior-most executive ownership. Initiatives that lack executive ownership will likely wither on the vine. As Mercedes Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon told me, customer experience must be nothing less than the number-one c-level conversation. Otherwise, it simply won’t get the attention it deserves.
- Activated by incentives—let’s face it: we’re all coin operated. While CX may be a visible mandate handed down from the c-suite, company-wide behaviors won’t manifest in any systematic way without the incentives to drive them forward. Incentives activate behaviors. To paraphrase my friend Francisco Gomez, the behaviors flow where the incentives go.
- Reinforced by culture—the highest performing organizations celebrate both the customer and the employee. Companies that forget this crucial second part rarely get the emotional buy in necessary to consistently walk the talk on the front lines. The highest performing companies recognize and celebrate exceptional customer-centered behaviors and they empower employees to use both their heads and the hearts to do the right things for customers in the moments that count.
While there’s a lot that goes into any successful customer experience program, aligning your efforts to these three basic forces will dramatically improve your odds of getting CX right for your organization.