Building Leadership Conviction to Drive Customer Experience Transformation

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Mike Ashton

Customer experience expert Mike Ashton discusses the capabilities that will help you achieve a customer experience transformation in your organisation.

Economic value is created not by individual products, services or brands, but by the total experience customers have with your organisation. Businesses that explicitly recognise customer experience as the core driver of business performance continue to outperform their sectors. They set priorities, allocate resources and make decisions to achieve a collective impact on customer value.

Customer experience transformation requires a distinct set of capabilities to move from where we are to where we need to be to compete; to make change happen, at pace, and make it last.

In a series of articles I’ll discuss the most important CX transformation capabilities we’ve identified over 6 years of research at ABCG and pose some questions taken from our client diagnostic framework.

From our research we have isolated 3 core capabilities that determine a company’s ability to create economic value by transforming its customer experience. These are:

  1.  Leadership conviction
  2. Unified working
  3. Equipped, engaged and enabled people at all levels

Without doubt, the most important core capability is Leadership Conviction; 100% belief among the corporate leadership team that CX drives commercial success.

We find that while some leadership teams say that CX is at the heart of their decision making, the way they actually run the business tell a different story. Actions are louder than words, which is why we need to look for behaviours that are characteristic of leadership conviction in 3 specific areas:

  1. Belief: Company-wide adherence to a consistent CX strategy over time
  2. Quantification: Ongoing assessment of the commercial impact of CX strategy
  3. Planning: A collaborative and data driven process of customer-centred business planning

During my eight years as CMO of Hilton, it became clear that seamless senior management behaviour rooted in shared priorities is pivotal to delivering sustained change. It translates into a coherent approach to prioritisation, and planning and resourcing allocation that’s visible to the organisation, which creates momentum and builds confidence.

Nothing undermines performance like lack of unity at the top. After all, why go through the pain and effort of change if your bosses don’t seem too committed?

Here are some questions taken from our capability assessment to get the ball rolling. The full assessment quantifies capability at three levels (leadership, management and front line), but these questions are aimed specifically at the leadership team.

Belief and alignment:

  • What is each director accountable for delivering within the overall CX transformation plan?
  • What processes are in place to ensure directors work as a collective unit on the CX plan?
  • What action is taken to visibly demonstrate unity of focus on CX among all directors?

Quantification of commercial impact:

  • What tools are in place to measure satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy by the core business unit?
  • How are cause and effect links between operational delivery and customer behaviour assessed?
  • How are these key metrics used to underpin customer experience decisions and prioritise related investment? Customer centred planning
  • How are research, insight and measurement built into strategic and operational CX planning?
  • How is CX transformation explicitly embedded into corporate planning and business strategy?
  • How do functional plans explicitly demonstrate actions that contribute to improving CX?

This exercise becomes really powerful when a workshop is used to examine how each member of the leadership team currently addresses these questions, why this is the case and what impedes delivery, what action is needed to improve performance and who will do what.

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be a dull meeting! In my next article I’ll take a look at the critical importance of collaboration and unified working for effective CX transformation.