Getting the CEO’s support for any initiative is vital, but how do you tell whether his or her commitment is genuine? Over the 13 years I worked on Customer Experience, I learned the tell-tale signs of authentic commitment. Here is my check list of ways to see if your CEO is committed to your initiative.
How to Check the Commitment of Your CEO:
- Count the number of times the CEO mentions Customers in any communication. If you don’t hear your CEO talking, emailing, or meeting about Customers, he or she isn’t focused on them. In all fairness, there are only so many hours in a day and the CEO does have responsibilities. However, if you can convince the CEO his or her responsibilities are part of what affects the Customer’s Experience, it will weave into the culture of the organization and the decisions the CEO makes for it.
- Keep track of how much time is devoted to Customer issues in meetings.When a one-hour meeting spends five minutes or less on Customer issues and the other 55 minutes on sales, marketing, product development, and operations (with no mention of Customers at all), then it’s not a priority.
- Compare the amount of time your CEO reviews Customer feedback to the time he or she reviews spreadsheets. Most organizations have some channel that feeds Customer comments back to their organization. If these comments are never viewed or shared with the C-suite, it’s because they don’t want to hear about it.
- Examine the CEO’s schedule to see what he or she values. I like the phrase, “You are your schedule.” What you have on your schedule reveals what you think you need to devote your time to. If you don’t see Customers there, they didn’t make the cut.
- Ask yourself, does the Customer Care Center receive accolades publically? Many times Customer service employees are treated like second-class citizens. Sales get all the accolades or even marketing for the latest campaign. Consider the past few Atta-boy (or Atta-girl) messages you heard at your organization. When was the last time it highlighted the work of the call center or Customer care reps? If you can’t recall, it’s because they aren’t considered drivers of the company’s success.
- Notice whether he or she only talks to you about processes. Is your CEO process-obsessed, which is about efficiency, or does he or she talk about the Customer experience? There is a big difference between the two. Many think your job is to fix the process so Customers are happier, but the process is only a part of their experience. If they don’t recognize that, you must have to educate them on what the Customer Experience entails.
- Note which type of KPIs are tied to Incentives. What gets incented gets done. Many times Customer Experience is a goal, but it isn’t tied into incentives for performance. Until it is, it’s a nice-to-have, not a got-to-have concept.
- Examine whether you have any authority to go along with your responsibility. If you don’t have authority, this is a halfway house that shows the lack of commitment by the CEO. He or she wants change and you are responsible, but you have no authority to make change happen. My advice? Look around for another job. In my experience you will spend your time hitting your head against a brick wall. Everyone is happy doing strategy work and talking about concepts, but when it comes to actions they run a mile. I have found everyone is happy until you ask them to do something.
Not everyone understands what Customer Experience is, how deep it goes, and what affects it. They might think it means the Customer has a great experience with the organization, but often that’s where their understanding stops. They aren’t aware of how the Customers feel both consciously and subconsciously about the experience is a huge influence on whether they think it’s “great,” nor do they realize how company-centered, operational processes can create negative feelings. This lack of understanding can create a situation where words say one thing, and actions say something else.
The Chief Customer Officer has a unique position, often battling across silos. They are a C-level executive with all the prestige that letter provides. However, they are also the champions of Customer Experience, which is a concept of which CEOs are not always in support, even if they think they are.
What are some other ways to tell if the CEO is on board with your agenda? I’d love to hear your signs in the comments below.
To learn more ways you can detect buy in on your Customer Experience Agenda, register for our Advanced Customer Experience Management (CEM) CertificationCourse beginning on April 20th.
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If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:
- 7 Signs That Your Executive Team is Not on Board
- 5 Reasons Your KPIs are Hurting Your Customer Experience
- CEO’s Advice for The Customer Experience Champion’s Role
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author offour bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX