In order for CX teams to achieve their maximum potential, they need access to various resources, both financial and strategic. While some of these resources are achievable through cooperation and building connections naturally, others require leadership buy-in and support.
To procure these resources, the CX team must adapt to the needs of the C-Suite and their manner of conducting business. Around 15% of CX leaders mention gaining senior management buy-in as the biggest challenge they face on the road to building the ultimate customer experience, according to The Global State Of Customer Experience report of 2018. Learning to speak the language of C-Suite can make this challenge more achievable: listening to actual challenges and offering real CX solutions, understanding the C-Suite priorities, learning to find and present meaningful data and keeping the company success in mind are all great steps to take on this journey.
Understand the priorities
Knowing the priorities of your C-Suite team is one of the most important things you can do while trying to get their ears. This way you can clearly see their areas of focus where you as a CX leader can step in and help out. Knowing their priorities can also help you prioritize your own department goals. Spend some time digging into the yearly strategy and check recent stats to see what is missing or what obstacles are in your team’s way. If possible, try to find a friendly ear at the C-Suite level or a department head who knows more and quiz them on the challenges that your company faces right now. Are you trying to attract new customers or increase loyalty with existing ones? What keeps your CFO up at night — is it reducing costs or re-designing approach to analytics? Knowing your CFO’s top priorities can help you align your requests to their strategies.
Understanding your C-Suite team’s priorities will help you come into the negotiation with the necessary leverage and prove that CX team not only has meaningful insight into the business side of things but can offer powerful solutions for issues that may have left others scrambling for answers.
Get your hands on hard data
Try to get your hands on some specific numbers and see what they are telling you. Knowing the current state of things, the trends and, if possible, what causes these trends will give you much-needed leverage during the negotiations. Having this information on hand will also be helpful when reviewing your requests from the C-Suite. Asking your executive team for resources to revamp the onboarding experience may not make much sense if the main cause of churn for your product is the lack of highly requested features.
For bonus points, research and compare your data points to industry benchmarks. Knowing how your competitors are performing can provide you with priceless insights, and help make the case to improve your own experience.
Cooperate with other departments
Team up with other departments to increase the value of your proposition. If an updated chat tool will improve the speed and experience of passing leads to Sales, the number of closed deals will grow. Investing in the omnichannel approach could help your customer success team work with existing customers to reduce churn rates. Spending time and money on redesigning your status page may not make sense to C-Suite unless you can prove that it will increase the development pace of your Ops team.
Find like-minded leaders in other departments and listen to what is bothering them - likely, there are some overlapping issues where you can step up and produce an interdepartmental benefit. The Global State Of Customer Experience report of 2018 mentioned that thinking both “upstream and downstream of the area of impact of the initiative” will help you identify problem areas where your solution can reap maximum efficiency, affecting both the internal and external outlook of the company. Killing two birds with one stone will most likely save your company money and thus make your proposition look more lucrative.
Consider long term vs. short term benefits
Some improvements are easy to get approved, like initiatives that will reduce costs, while others may take more time and attention to push through. “Plans that look at future growth and profits over time need to be explained more thoroughly as the investment may not see an immediate return,” says Ben Fairbank, Head of Customer Experience at ride-hailing app Grab, in this report. Think about whether the thing you’re asking for is falling in the first or the second category and tweak your approach accordingly.
If your plan will most likely only reap benefits in two quarters, make sure that your strategy covers both the long and short term plans, explaining when the company can expect results and why your approach makes the most sense in your situation. Use this strategy to double-check your findings and ask yourself hard questions like: does this long term approach really make sense? Will it still work if circumstances change or a new technology enters the market? When calculating ROI for a future investment, consider which costs are required upfront, which costs are ongoing and when your overall investment will pay off.
Show the bright future, but live in the present
One thing that is often missing even in the most thought-out plans is not the end result of the plan, but rather the reality it takes to achieve it. Obviously, selling your idea implies showing how great everything will be in the future, but how exactly will you accomplish this goal? Being realistic about the risks, potential delays and challenges can actually make your plan more convincing.
Tracking success along the way is important too. Every small win can help generate momentum for your project. Think about metrics that you plan on using to check in on the progress and what target goals you can set now to have your fingers on the pulse in the meantime. Breaking up the plan into stages and setting internal milestones can also be an efficient way of tracking the success of your project. Understanding not only your goals and means of achieving it but also the process that will take you there will ease potential C-Suite anxieties and will once again prove that your approach is based on a strong and well-analyzed strategy.
Working shoulder to shoulder with the C-Suite, getting their attention and buy-in may seem difficult at first. Using tried-and-tested strategies that will provide your executive team with answers to all of their questions and worries can make this experience not only painless but even educational. Learning how to get your C-Suite’s ears will both help you achieve your goals and also teach you how to approach your work holistically, thinking about the big picture instead of fractional goals and small steps. Think of C-Suite as another happy customer — understanding their needs, providing them with all of the necessary information and anticipating their questions is a sure way to success.
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