The path to create a customer-centric organization is not identical for any two companies, and even companies at similar stages of CX maturity do not look the same. It is not hard to understand that improving customer experiences can improve an organization’s bottom line, but it can be incredibly challenging to persuade an entire organization to agree on current customer perceptions and the prioritization of customer experience and loyalty improvement projects.

Having worked with product-centric companies that had no competition, as well as large multinational organizations who have been doing CX research for years, I’ve seen the same need time and time again: Organizations need a strategy to arm stakeholders with the right information before having a strategic planning discussion.

Prior to road-mapping CX initiatives, analyzing cost-benefits and determining how to most effectively measure ROI, there are four steps that customer-centric companies take to ensure their road-mapping exercise is as valuable as possible.

1. Talk about CX with Anyone & Everyone

Customer experience needs to be part of the conversation both in the conference room and at the lunch table. By engaging colleagues, friends, and even unknown members of your organization in a conversation about CX and how the work of various departments can affect experiences, support tends to grow quickly and organically. From growing an idea pipeline where people feel comfortable sharing hypotheses or suggestions to resource allocation from teams that want to have a voice or a specific program implemented, this show of diverse support can take on many forms.

This practice will also bring to light greater understanding of how different departments are evaluated in their performance. Uncovering an area in which CX will or could link to performance is an important tool to explore how departments will be invested in any CX program. This will also ensure that whatever types of information they will need will be fully incorporated into programs in order to track their own metrics in the context of CX results.

2. Dig into the Data

Many organizations sit on troves of valuable customer data that can provide insight on its own. Before determining CX priorities or structuring feedback programs, it is important to get a sense of what will be possible by auditing all available data within the organization.

Among those on the periphery who do not regularly comb through data, there is often widespread uncertainty of where, what kind, and how much data exists, and a tendency to redirect inquiries to the few who can answer these questions. To overcome this apprehension, ask other teams and departments to share insight reports and data justifications that they have used. This will help you see the data in the context of how and why it was collected and utilized.

Key types of data to ask about and to inventory as you prepare to embark on new CX initiatives include:

a. Customer-level demographic data – Gender, Region, etc.

  • i. Permits deep data views/cuts to drive learning by understanding variances among different types of customers

b. Customer behavioral & financial data – Average Spend, Tenure, Frequency of Contact, Products/Services used, Share of Wallet, etc.

  • i. Offers ability to build models and predict future outcomes, which is crucial for measuring ROI

c. Customer contact data: Email Addresses, Cell Phone Numbers, Permission to SMS, etc.

  • i. Determines feedback plan and structure, incorporating key elements that may drive survey experiences and enable more thorough data analysis

3. Set Measurable Goals

While a noble objective, ‘becoming more customer-centric’ is not an immediately attainable goal for most organizations. Oftentimes, this type of generic value statement is not necessarily tied to specific tasks or objectives to which regular employees can relate. Similarly, executives can have challenges determining exactly which metrics and programs to prioritize with such a “big picture” goal.

It is important for goals to be defined prior to commencing work on new CX initiatives that closely link to the company’s overall strategy. This will help to ensure that the strategy and focus is effectively communicated throughout the organization and baked into the fabric of a CX program.

4. Be a Resource Realist

Understanding the potential sources of your budget will help frame the parameters of possibility within your road-mapping discussions. By thinking critically about your funding and budgeting processes and the motivating factors for gaining budget, a clearer tactical plan can be developed. Understanding your potential budget (and its limit) straight from the project’s start can help you focus conversations around potential programs.

By taking these four steps and arming all employees and teams responsible for CX feedback with relevant information prior to discussing your desired CX program roadmap, you will be well on your way to more effective and productive discussions centered around the customer experience.