5 Keys to Getting Stakeholders On Board for a CX Revamp

Customer experience is going to be a crucial differentiator for businesses in the next decade. Here’s how to make sure yours meets the mark.

Benjamin Woll
Sep 23, 2020 · 7 min read

Changing customer expectations have punched a hole through the idea of a linear customer journey. Businesses have to think about the explosion of customer experience (CX) touchpoints beyond physical retail to include their online presence, chatbots, phone calls, SMS, self-driven customer research, and more. Unfortunately, getting stakeholder buy-in for necessary CX projects is difficult — especially because CX has typically been viewed as a cost-cutting measure, not a value generator.

Ben Woll, Director of Client Services at Myplanet, recently hosted a webinar on how telecom businesses are using CX to win new business, featuring expert panelists Mark Demeny, Director of Content Management Strategy at Contentful; Peter Tanner, Director of Digital Media Product Development at Rogers Communications; and Piyush Patel, the Chief Strategic Business Development Officer at Algolia.

The panel discussed the ins and outs of creating a roadmap for CX transformation and the steps leaders need to take to get stakeholders on board for a transformation project. The group had fantastic insights, so today we’re going to share five key takeaways from the webinar.

Understand the pressures on key stakeholders

As a change leader hoping to get stakeholder buy-in, you need to know what pressures your key stakeholders face and what goals they have.

According to a Forrester study, the top priority for telecom leaders is to grow revenue (40% said this was a key priority). This is followed by improving products and services (38%), improving the company’s ability to innovate (38%), and improving the customer experience (37%). The study was telecom focused, but these priorities extend to nearly every industry.

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Forrester top initiatives chart c/o Forrester, Hardwire Customer Experience to Telco Financial Performance Report, Oct 2019. Principal CX Analyst Tom Mouhsian.

CX ranks in the top 4 reasons on its own merit, but getting buy-in requires understanding each stakeholder’s unique priorities. Do a bit of investigation, asking stakeholders questions about their KPIs, obstacles they face, end-to-end processes, and what one thing they’d change to make their lives easier. When you know this, you can start to build the case around how CX can impact their concerns, even when the connection isn’t as obvious.

Takeaway: Understanding what stakeholders are up against is critical to later show how your plan for CX transformation touches on their priorities.

Use a holistic lens to identify friction points

CX touches every area of the business, from marketing to IT to product, so you need to look at the holistic customer journey before asking for buy-in on your transformation plan. And in today’s market, we’re no longer looking at a linear sales journey, either — it’s much more complicated than that.

“When we talk about a sales journey, we’re not talking about somebody picking up a phone or walking into a store,” says Tanner. “We’re talking about somebody doing advanced searches, narrowing down, filtering, then asking their voice assistant all sorts of things to get results.” How well you understand the multi-interface, multi-channel experiences of your customers will determine how well your CX changes will do.

The reason behind this, as Patel explained, is the concept of friction. The most effective transformation journey is not necessarily the biggest, but the one that reduces the most friction. If you can develop a plan to target the processes currently taking a lot of time or effort to solve, you can bring massive value relatively quickly.

But Patel also cautioned that leaders can’t simply focus on one friction point once they’ve found it, since that could cause problems down the line. Remember, every touchpoint is connected to every other part of the customer journey.

“The first thing companies need to focus on is the path and the journey… the end-to-end process,” Patel says. “If I don’t know the whole process and only focus on one area, I’ll probably introduce friction somewhere else.”

Takeaway: A holistic view means you’re better able to identify key friction points you want to reduce, making project value easier for stakeholders to see. Plus, you can connect friction points with stakeholder obstacles, showing how you can improve CX and solve stakeholder problems.

Look at headless solutions to avoid rip-and-replace fiascos

When you’re learning about stakeholder challenges and friction points, it can be tempting to propose a whole new system to replace the dated one that already exists.

This would be a mistake.

“Nobody is looking to do a big rip-and-replace anymore,” says Demeny, adding that businesses want to work in smaller batches and see results within weeks, not years. Instead of a new system, think of initiatives in the context of testing and time-to-value, which Demeny says “has completely replaced [financial] ROI as the metric” of transformation projects.

To more easily plan tests, the panel recommended headless architectures. These can operate incrementally, reducing both implementation time and testing costs.

Using the example of a headless content management system (CMS), Demeny explains that the ”simplicity of the systems means that you can push out content authoring and customer experience tasks to more of the organization.” As a result, the right people can do their jobs efficiently and the company not only recognizes cost savings from improved team efficiency, but customers get a better overall experience.

Takeaway: Leveraging a headless technology platform that empowers incremental tests without spending tons of time or money is going to help get stakeholders on board because it offers a quick time-to-value.

Plan metrics to track reduced friction

A key question every stakeholder will have is how you can demonstrate if your strategy is working and making progress. Unfortunately, existing CX metrics like revenue and churn rates don’t accurately show if initiatives are reducing friction. Instead, plan metrics to be specific to the friction you find.

“It’s the delta in a given metric — where am I reducing friction?” says Patel. “What am I doing to decrease the time it takes to get something done, close a deal… all the different variables that control somebody’s satisfaction?” That’s what you need to be tracking.

There are no standard metrics that work across the board, but Patel recommended metrics that revolve around time, since that’s how friction often manifests. For example:

  • Time to get a project or initiative live
  • Time to answer a customer question
  • Time for a sales rep to close a deal

Tanner added that in a true cross-departmental CX transformation, you also have to understand “contextualized metrics” that may not initially seem related to the customer experience. For instance, checking if a technical issue caused a customer to not purchase versus a traditional metric like chat response times. During the buy-in process, these kinds of metrics won’t feature prominently in your plan. However, they should be in the back of your mind as you go through conversations, particularly if they align to challenges that key stakeholders brought up.

Takeaway: Don’t come to the table talking only about revenue. Use metrics to show the whole story of how your plan will result in a positive change that impacts business goals.

Don’t forget middle management buy-in

Middle managers can become strong advocates for change in an organization. They can help champion your cause to their respective department leaders or c-suite executives, so as you build your strategy and seek buy-in, Demeny advises creating a clear path for middle managers and individual contributors to bring up issues or questions.

“If [middle managers] aren’t able to get the problem above them, it dies with them,” says Demeny, so help identify where their potential roadblocks will be and get to work helping them move past them with ease.

One point that often matters to this group is including employees in the picture. Seeking these stakeholders’ buy-in shouldn’t only be about the customer story, but also about helping employees become more efficient.

“[Employees] are working in a different way, need access to tools in a different way, and interact with customers in a different way,” says Patel. “A lot of technology adoption needs to look at how to reduce friction so they can serve customers better.”

Takeaway: Buy-in is not just about C-suite Executives. Make sure your strategy includes helping middle management and employees overcome roadblocks in their work as well.

A new customer era

We’re in a new era of customer experience. It’s no longer “the customer’s always right”, but that doesn’t mean customer feelings have lost sway. If anything, CX is more central than ever, as the focus has shifted to delivering a seamless customer experience across channels, platforms, touchpoints, and interactions. The result of this customer-centric model for companies is higher spends and increased brand loyalty — two extremely compelling reasons for your stakeholders to prioritize this as a change worth far more than potential cost-cutting normally offers.

Does your organization need to understand how to take advantage of the next generation of experiences for your customers? We can help— talk to one of our team members today.

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