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Why your customer experience program needs an executive sponsor

Reena Leone,
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Customer experience (CX) remains a top priority for organizations looking to differentiate themselves from competitors and build lasting customer relationships. Personalization is table stakes, and providing an amazing experience can attract new customers and keep existing customers loyal. Seems like an easy win, right? But like any major initiative spanning multiple teams and channels, customer experience is complicated and challenging.

To learn about the state of customer experience today, Pegasystems surveyed 5,000 CX practitioners in 12 countries, across 7 different industries. Our Pega 2020 Global Customer Experience Study, identifies “false narratives” – common assumptions that can cripple a CX program before it ever gets off the ground. One of the most interesting was that CX doesn’t need executive sponsorship.

To call it out directly, companies are falling behind when it comes to CX – but they don’t know that they are. Business leaders are 4X more likely than consumers to rate an experience as “excellent.” They score themselves higher in NPS than consumers, in every channel, and 90% stated that their company provides a better CX than competitors.

How can views on CX differ so much between companies and the customers they serve? In this blog we’ll examine one of the false narratives around CX programs and offer some suggestions in how organizations can course correct to truly provide the customers the experiences they deserve.

CX programs are lacking executive sponsorship

Organizations are “leaning in” to the hype around customer experience, but 64% still don’t have a C-level sponsor. If customer experience is a major competitive advantage and the key to long-term customer loyalty, why isn’t there more support for CX at a higher level?

Traditionally, customer experience hasn’t been treated as a specific role within an organization and sometimes spans multiple teams. Most organizations use other roles – marketing, retail, customer service, etc. – to cover CX. However, all these other functions can have their own, sometimes competing, goals. Marketing and retail want to sell, first and foremost. Service is a good place to start – but there are a ton of interactions that happen outside a service context. As an organization grows, CX needs to become its own practice with its own champion and a centralized strategy to keep initiatives aligned. It also requires financial investment.

One of the challenges with CX is that impact is hard to measure, especially in the short term. It’s not like marketing where metrics such as leads and engagement can be mapped back to financial value. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), while extremely important to long-term business success, takes a lot longer to measure and is the hardest to project.

To help prove the value of your CX program – and ultimately get senior stakeholder buy-in – the best place to start is with test and control.

Often, customer service is a good channel to start using the test and control approach because it’s easier to see the impact of your initiatives. Once you start implementing changes to your CX, compare it to previous CX programs, trials, and initiatives. And have patience; while there might be some initial results as soon as 90 days, like cutting down churn or increasing offer conversion, it can take 3 to 5 years to years to fully optimize a CX program across channels, programs, and business units.

A great example of this is British Airways. In order to shift to an always-on customer conversation model designed to provide personalized interactions based on customer need, British Airways started a lab. For two years, they tested various aspects of their CX, from email to social media to call centers, to demonstrate an uplift in customer satisfaction before rolling out a full, multi-channel, multi-team personalization initiative across the organization.

Like any major initiative, CX needs strong leadership to bring channels and teams together.

Stakeholder buy-in is critical, especially at the C-level. If you want to remain competitive and reap the rewards that CX can provide, it starts at the top.

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Tags

  • Challenge: Customer Engagement
  • Product Area: Customer Decision Hub
  • Product Area: Pega Customer Decision Hub
  • Topic: Customer Experience

About the Author

Pega’s Content Marketing Manager Reena Leone helps clients around the world realize the positive impact that one-to-one customer engagement can have on customer experience and ROI.