Making your CX strategy real by engaging and energizing the people you need on your side.

A strategy only shines in execution. For your carefully-laid plans to add real business value to the customer experience, you need to look at how you implement your strategy from the ground, getting your hands dirty with the actual business of making it function. And it involves a lot of hard thinking … about soft factors.

What factors? People and their motivations. Departments and their varying goals. Silo mentality and working across the walls. Implementation thrives or fails based on whether you pay close enough attention to factors like these. So build them in from the start.

Set a Concrete Timeline and Project Plan

First, make sure your implementation goals have actual numbers attached. “As soon as you can” often translates to “when you get around to it.” Instead, make an actual project plan as you would for any other work endeavor. A CX plan is a business goal like any other. So treat it as one.

In business school, most of us learn about the acronym, SMART. This is the S, where you set specific goals and outcomes that paint a picture of what success looks like. Taking a closer look at the other four steps can help us, as well.

Give Participants a Way to Know How They’re Doing

The M of SMART is measurable. Make sure everyone has a way to know how they’re doing. Clear performance indicators will help you track and manage the process.
What sort of KPIs will you need? Refer back to your strategy. What metrics did you decide mattered most? With 71% of organizations seeing CX as a competitive differentiator, there’s plenty of data out there for finding a personal metric for each team member. Whatever you’ve tasked them with, work out what change they have to make, and find a way of measuring the gap between what that situation is now and what you need it to be. Make it measurable.

If you needed to bring web chat into the mix, set that as a technologist’s task. If you’ve identified training needs, set the certification requirement as the KPI. The more concrete you can make it, the faster your progress will be.

Keep Your Targets In Range

Once you’ve set your goals, double-check that they’re achievable (the A of SMART) or you’ll end up with nothing to show for your efforts but exhaustion and disappointment.

After all, CX is a cross-departmental effort. You’ll need to engage people across the organization. So heading off doubt is important. Think about all the training needs and technology upgrades you listed in your strategy: are they reasonable for one junior person to execute? Or do they need a team of more experienced people? Are those individuals upgrading or is it a complete paradigm shift? Make sure every objective is reasonably achievable.

Make It a Real Job, Not An Add-on

While a mandate from the C-Suite always helps, let’s get real: people only deliver effective work when they know what’s in it for them. This is the R of SMART: creating relevancy.

So your next critical success factor (CSF) depends on positioning the CX strategy as a genuine and necessary part of each team member’s job description – not a make-work scheme from the corner office. To do so, look at the world through that employee’s eyes.

What metrics lead to success in their job? How is their performance measured? Make their manager your first stop. You’ll need him or her in the loop anyway. Come away from that meeting with a list of candidates who could implement your CX plans, and work out which parts of that implementation will lead to kudos from their managers and peers. A few statistics, like the fact 86% of great experiences lead to a repurchase, can work wonders.

Is the candidate in sales, scored on lead gen numbers and conversion rates? Demonstrate how his part of the project might lead to two hot referrals per week from delighted customers, or a 20% uplift in positive responses. Motivate your guy by appealing to his drivers, and you’ve turned grudging acceptance into enthusiastic understanding. Make implementation worth their while.

Create a Sense of Shared Enterprise

Building an effective CX means connecting silos: it involves the contact center team, the IT experts, the field sales professionals, and more. You probably need to recruit people who don’t normally work with each other. And 41% of professionals believe organizational barriers are a significant factor in failed CX projects. So that’s your next CSF. Get them in the same room and set a clear timeline for results.

A single event, where you introduce your team to each other and outline their responsibilities, can work wonders for execution. Instead of bouncing every query back to the project lead (that’s you), they’ll connect laterally, forming links between different teams to spread the effort. And always remember to reward such actions when they occur: it’ll keep your implementation timeline on track. That’s your T: keep the goals time-bound.

Listen to Actual Customers!

There’s one more factor that isn’t S, M, A, R, or T. It’s a C: talk to actual customers who’ll be experiencing your new options. Sometimes, a short chat with six or seven real people can be worth months of strategizing behind closed doors.

So never forget who you’re ultimately doing this for: your customer. Wherever, whenever, and whoever the interaction involves.

There are countless ways to implement a CX strategy, but setting SMART objectives is a simple and effective starter. Choose your team carefully, give them goals that matter to them, and keep the lines of communication open.

Since you’ve created a better experience for your internal project leads, you should be on course for an improved CX, as well.