Building Your Cross-Functional Customer Experience Team

In Oracle’s white paper, “Seven Power Lessons for Customer Experience Leaders,” lesson number one is “Customer experience is political.” The book states, “A key aspect of your mission as a customer experience leader is therefore to act as the political champion for customer experience.” Choosing your cross-functional team is the first step in giving customer experience the political clout it needs to create lasting change across the organization.

The following are several considerations as you develop your cross-functional team:

Seniority

You want to look for people who are senior enough to have deep expertise in their area of the business, but not so senior that they will be too busy, or high-level thinking that they won’t be able to dig into the details. They need to understand all of the ins-and-outs of their department, but also see how their department connects into the bigger role of the organization.

Customer Experience View

You want to avoid looking at seniority alone, however. It’s important to search out the people who innately understand the importance of the customer experience. Otherwise you could waste valuable time trying to constantly establish the importance of what you are doing. You need a team who understands and believes in what you are trying to accomplish, and is excited to be a part of it so you can start building momentum.

Organizational Role

Your cross-functional team needs to represent the interests and challenges of the entire organization. You will want to include functional representatives (e.g., Marketing, Finance, IT, HR) as well as business representatives (e.g., regions, practices). While you may find more people in Marketing who are excited about using customer feedback to drive change, they may not be able to help you down the road when you need to secure budget or change training policies. It’s going to take a representative team to carry the torch throughout your company.

In addition, be sure to secure support from your colleagues responsible for the brand. The brand makes the promise and the experience is responsible for delivering on it. For this reason, you must ensure that the brand team is onboard and connected with the customer experience work. Some companies are even beginning to create Brand and Experience councils with this very purpose in mind.

Personal Clout

Seek out individuals who are strongly networked across the company. While this may be a person who has a track record of big projects under their belt, don’t limit yourself by seeking out the big stars. You want people who have demonstrated success at managing change outside of big budgets and spotlights. These people tend to rely on a network of relationships to get things done, and these characteristics will help your team build support for the changes ahead.

Size of the Team

The optimal number of people you should have on this team is 12. More than 20 and you’ll start feeling some “death by committee,” but fewer than 9 and you likely won’t have the representation you need.

In Switch, Dan and Chip Heath examine how reformers are vital in “rallying the heard” to change their behaviors. “The lessons are clear,” they write, “If you want to change the culture of your organization, you’ve got to get the reformers together. They need a free space. They need time to coordinate outside the gaze of the resisters.” Your cross-functional team will be your band of reformers. Take time to build a team that possesses the passion, clout, and commitment to get things done in spite of the resistance you will inevitably face.

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