One of the key questions I am always asked is ‘How do you gain senior management buy in’? Given I have been dealing with Senior Executives for 15 years on the subject of improving the Customer Experience I thought I would share my top five insights.
1. Realise that they don’t know what they are talking about!
Most people, including Senior Executives, think they understand what Customer Experience is about and what it takes to change. In my experience they don’t. They don’t understand the depth of the subject and the implications of what needs to change in their business. Your job is to educate them. I don’t mean by sending them on a training course, I mean by challenging their thinking; show them how a poor Customer Experience is affected by many aspects of their organization.
2. Be opportunistic.
One of our clients is a master at keeping the subject of Customer Experience at the top of the Senior Exec’s agenda. He uses ‘guerrilla marketing’ tactics. For example; on one occasion when he had new Customer satisfaction results he and his team ‘raided’ the Executive offices and hung results on all of the walls. They even went so far as to place the results in strategic places in the restrooms! You have to find ways to keep this ‘front of mind’ to gain real engagement.
3. Show me the money!
In my experience few Senior Execs are naturally focussed on the Customer Experience. I would estimate that in my 15 years of doing this work only 20% of Senior Execs I have met are naturally focussed around the customer. What they are interested in is what they are employed to do – produce shareholder value, produce profits. This means they are understandably interested in numbers. So, ‘when in Rome do what the Romans do’. Therefore you have to give them numbers. Do not say Customer Experience is just ‘a good thing to do’. This is one of the reasons why we developed the emotional signature. This can statistically and scientifically define which changes will produce the most $$$$ payback. This always gets their attention.
4. You need to gain their respect – Don’t be a ‘yes’ person.
In the main, Senior Executives respect people who positively challenge their thinking. Yes, I agree, some are egotistic and think that they have all the answers; however, in my experience the majority of Senior Executives realise they don’t have all the answers. Be prepared for them to test you. During this process they may come across as being ‘aggressive’ but if you know your stuff, hold your ground. Have the courage of your convictions and explain to them why you are right. In my experience people respect this. When you have passed this ‘test’ they will listen to you more in the future. I do need to emphasise this needs to be done positively, no-one likes negative people. This leads nicely onto the final insight.
5. Be enthusiastic!
Enthusiasm is contagious and really helps if you are challenging their thinking. Show them your passion, show them your enthusiasm for the subject, it won’t fail to be contagious.
Good luck in doing this.
If this topic interests you and want to explore Customer Experience in more depth, why not attend the next upcoming Telecoms IQ events where I will also be a participant on the speaker panel during the Customer Experience Management in Telecoms North America and Steven Walden; co-author of our most recent international business bestseller; ‘Customer Experience: Future Trends and Insights’ will be on the panel during the Customer Experience Management in Telecoms: UK Summit
|Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: @ColinShaw_CX