The Ambitious First 90 Days For a CXO

Contributor: Annette Franz
Posted: 05/02/2017
The Ambitious First 90 Days for a CXO

CX Expert Annette Franz asks the questions: What do the first 90 days on the job look like for a brand new Chief Customer Officer or VP of CX?

When I spoke to Scott Draeger of GMC Software, one of the questions that he asked me is what I'd call the customer experience officer's (CXO's) "first 90 days". He asked me what CXOs would be doing in their early days and my response, in a nutshell, was around information gathering and education.

Given a bit more time to consider it, I would actually put the first 90 days into three phases: info gathering, customer understanding, and strategy development. Education falls into each of those phases but certainly is important to getting everyone on board.

Phase 1: Information Gathering

Having a CXO is critical to success for any customer experience transformation. When we think transformation, we need to make real change that customers can see and feel. We're going to change the culture and ensure we increase revenue (existing customers continue to buy, or buy more, or new customers come on board) and decrease costs (referrals reduce sales and marketing costs and operational efficiencies reduce operating costs). This requires a huge coordination of effort; someone needs to oversee that effort.

The first step in any new role is to sit, listen, and learn. And ask questions. The CXO is going to gather information about the corporate and competitive landscape, the people, the politics, the who's who, the tools and technologies currently in place, the organisation's current state of customer-centricity, current approaches to change management, any CX-type initiatives (listening, mapping, understanding, characterising, etc.) underway, the company vision, the mission, the brand promise, corporate values, and more. Basically, they'll be getting the current state lay of the land.

At the same time, they'll be building relationships and finding partners in crime, so to speak. Who gets it and who doesn't. Who's an advocate or an ally? Who's not? Who needs to be convinced or brought on board?

And they'll want to get a sense of what employees know and understand about customer experience. This sets a baseline for where we are today versus where we need to be. At the same time, they'll be talking to folks about what customer experience is, why it's important to the success of the company, how employees impact it, and, at a high level, what the expectation is when it comes to delivering a great customer experience.

Without that foundational information, it's going to be really difficult to do anything. All this information gathering , including that which is done in Phase 2,- feeds into the third phase: developing the CX strategy.

Phase 2: Customer Understanding

While there may already be some listening and understanding efforts underway, this next phase solidifies, unifies, reinforces, and builds on these efforts to ensure that the right initiatives are underway, where and when they matter most.

During this phase, the CXO is going to again listen and learn while getting more hands-on in making sure that things are moving in the right direction, as the team listens to customers, characterises them (persona research and development), and maps the current state of various experiences/journeys. They'll use this information not only for design work that lies ahead but also to educate employees about the customer experience, how they impact it, and where it needs to be fixed.

This is also a good time to start talking to HR and the executive team about the employee experience and how critical it is to focus on that in order to deliver a great customer experience. This will feed into hiring practices and onboarding and training programmes that will set the employee off on the right foot from Day One.

And finally, they'll want to identify other constituents critical to the customer experience ecosystem and other voices that the organisation will want to listen to, using their feedback to improve both their experience and the customer experience.

Phase 3: Strategy Development

The foundational work in the first two phases leads to - and feeds into - the development of the CX strategy that is to be executed on going forward. A lot is going on at this point, including developing the strategy, getting the right players (governance) into place and in alignment, educating and aligning the organisation, putting training and communication plans and initiatives into place, getting to work, and securing some quick wins to begin to tell the ROI story and to build the business case.

Don't be fooled by the short descriptor for Phase 3. There's a lot of heavy lifting going on!

Given that the average CXO tenure is 24 months, they've got to move to prove that this is a worthy endeavor. And, in turn, extend that average tenure!

What do you think? Is that a lot to ask for in the first 90 days?

Annette Franz
Contributor: Annette Franz