Vision Critical held their North American executive sales training in Toronto this past week.
I was invited to speak on the panel of Customer Experience (CX) experts along with my former colleague, the very talented Paul Teshima (CEO of Nudge.ai) and Tammy Chiasson a CX veteran coming from the retail space (Director CX, Strategy and Innovation at Tangerine).
Ellie Hutton, our panel moderator, wanted to understand what makes CX professionals tick as she put us through our paces with questions invoking our perspectives on the motivations and challenges of the role, as well as where we thought the industry was headed.
The following are the questions Ellie asked me, along with my responses.
[Ellie] Motivations and challenges: What gets you out of bed in the morning and what keeps you up at night?
What gets me out of bed in the morning is figuring out how to create the win-win-win business model: customers winning through results with the product (driving loyalty), company winning through growth (via retention and then expansion), and employees winning through increased job satisfaction and career development (by being successful with clients). I love creating multi-win situations and the elegance of solutions that make them possible.
As CCO, what kept me up at night was figuring out how to improve retention and scale elegantly, which was all about determining how to be more proactive, automated and smarter about understanding the customer and their journey.
[Ellie] What does the CX organization look like? Who owns CX? What’s the job?
I fundamentally believe an organization should reflect a structure that will successfully support customers through their journey. So for example, if a vendor is selling to a well-established industry and the product is very intuitive and easy to use, a CX organization may slant more to an industry/sales-led type approach and consist more of AM’s and industry experts that help operationalize the software within the business. If a vendor is defining a new market and needs to evangelize a new way of doing business, then the CX organization will need visionary type CSM’s that can help customers operate in a new and yet undefined manner.
That said, a typical CX organizational structure consists of the post-sales functions that drive initial and ongoing adoption of the product: professional services (onboarding as well as post onboarding), education, customer success, support and customer enablement & marketing. I believe it’s good practice to include AM within CX and have the CCO own all retention as well as expansion revenue in the known install base.
I believe the job is part market research (understanding the customer), sales (retention & expansion by making them successful), services, education, support and ongoing success (CS and AM). It is also about driving change within the company to become customer centric and ensuring that the other departments are aligned to the customer journey for efficiency and scale.
[Ellie] What does success look like and how is it measured? Is there anything beyond NPS and CSAT?
Ultimately success looks like healthy revenue growth which is typically a balance between retention, net dollar renewal (expansion), NPS and C-Sat, together with operational efficiency (i.e. a company is not just “buying” revenue through an army of resources).
I think an organization needs to have a repeatable, disciplined and scalable approach to driving revenue, otherwise it will not succeed in the long run (retention will eventually hit the organization otherwise). Organizations need to build customer centric, agile business models that can respond and adapt to their evolving customers. This is the work I do with my client base: I help them build business models that are tightly aligned to the customer and their journey so that they are set for scaling and as disruption proof as possible.
[Ellie] Where does customer intelligence factor into CX decision making and budget?
It factors greatly into CX. Understanding the customer, how they operationalize your product, how they use it, and what does and does not work is the required input into a customer centric business model that facilitates informed decision making needed to adapt operations that efficiently and proactively serve an ever-evolving customer base.
[Ellie] Three predictions for the future of CX?
CX will be a requirement for business, not a nice to have: Companies that do not understand their customers will not survive. It will no longer be a competitive differentiator but table stakes to stay in the game. It will be required to thwart the threat of churn and disruption (which will increase).
CX will continue to be more about business solutions and outcomes than the product. Vendors will be responsible for delivering business practices that drive their customer’s results vs a product that customers need to learn and figure out how to operationalize within their environment.
Proactive Only: Companies delivering the best customer experiences will have figured out how to use customer intelligence in such a way that they will operate in solely a proactive manner. They will recognize when customers are heading off the rails and intervene early to get them back on track.
What are your predictions for the future of CX? I would love to hear them! Please feel free to post your thoughts to this article or send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.