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If you ask customers, many of them will tell you that customer experience (CX) is the worst it's ever been.

CX quality fell for 19% of brands in 2022, Forrester's most recent US Customer Experience Index found—the highest percentage since the inception of the survey.

Today's CX landscape is one of extreme highs and even lower lows. On the one hand, some brands provide multiple avenues to their global customer base for reaching their customer service team across several unified channels. On the other hand, many businesses' CX consists of a mishmash of ineffective chatbots, poorly designed apps, unresponsive social media channels, and overstretched customer service teams. Put simply, their CX is a mess.

Customers are now using a vast number of channels to contact businesses for help, and many brands are struggling to craft streamlined, unified customer experiences that encourage loyalty and generate revenue. That, compounded with the impending global recession, means business leaders must understand that poor CX is an urgent problem. They must work hard to win customer loyalty or risk being abandoned en masse when customers tighten their belts.

Many businesses respond to the challenge by creating brand-new CX positions that report directly to the C-suite. But, too often, newly hired CXOs, CSOs, and CCOs aren't given the authority or the resources they need to succeed.

So, how can you ensure you're not setting your CXO up to fail?

A Recipe for the Perfect CXO

Of course, setting your CXO up for success starts with hiring the right person. But that can be tough. On the one hand, CXOs should be process-oriented and thrive on detail. On the other, they must have the requisite gravitas to get other department leaders on board.

Both of those traits are non-negotiable. However, the single most important trait to look for in a CXO is front-line customer service experience—at multiple levels, not just senior management. The ideal candidate should have a track record of delivering CX projects that have had a tangible impact. In other words, they need to have been "in the trenches."

Also, your CXO must be given sufficient budget and authority to find solutions to longstanding CX problems, even when they extend beyond the customer service department.

Too often, CXOs report to the COO or CMO. Instead, they should have a direct line to the CEO, and they should be brought to the table during all board-level discussions. That will help ensure your newly fledged CXO can gain buy-in from all functions, which in turn enables CX to be a cross-organizational responsibility.

Beyond the CXO: Why All Departments Should Prioritize Great CX

Customer experience is a journey that begins long before purchase. It might start when prospects are exposed to your brand through advertising. Then, they may follow you on social media before visiting your website or physical shopping location to make a purchase. After that, they might join a loyalty rewards program or download your app before finally contacting your customer service team when they come up against an issue or question.

Both pre- and post-purchase, customers interact with multiple business functions—including Marketing, Sales, Product, and Customer Service. So, it's only logical that all functions should be invested in delivering great CX.

Marketing and Sales

In a nutshell, satisfied customers are more likely to purchase from your company again, and they might even spread the word! Marketers and salespeople should remember the power of word-of-mouth advocacy, which goes hand-in-hand with great CX.

Referrals are among the most valuable sources of high quality leads, and referred customers have a 25% higher lifetime value than other customers, making customer advocacy a lucrative revenue channel.

Product

Great CX depends on having slick processes in place to act on customer feedback and opinion. Nowhere is that more important than in the link between the CX and product teams.

When CX teams do a great job of capturing data, that can be the secret sauce to better understanding customers' wants and needs, especially now that consumer behavior is harder than ever to predict. CX teams regularly receive real-time customer feedback that can be used to refine features, root out bugs, and jump on trends at the right moments.

Finance

Chances are the majority of your finance team views your customer service department as a cost center instead of a potential revenue generator. But, in fact, businesses have a 60-70% chance of selling to a current customer, compared with a 5% chance of selling to new customers.

So, investing in winning and retaining customer loyalty is truly a no-brainer. Sporting goods retailer Decathlon is a perfect example: After investing significantly in enhancing CX, it's now getting $5 back in revenue for every $1 invested.

IT

Great CX means resolving customers' issues in the lowest possible number of contacts and responses—thus minimizing the IT resources required. A win for IT teams!

Implementing new CX tech is a great way to streamline CX operations and lower the number of contacts and responses needed to resolve an issue. Today's IT leaders are eager to shake off the reputation of being there to "make sure the systems are running," so taking a leading role in procuring CX tech is a great opportunity for them to demonstrate their ability to drive efficiencies, enhance collaboration, and enable innovation.

Tag, You're It: How to Measure CX Success

Board meetings shouldn't be the only time there's cross-departmental collaboration on improving CX. It's up to CXOs to ensure that everyone in the business is doing their part in bettering business outcomes.

Customer effort is the strongest driver of consumer loyalty (and disloyalty), research by Gartner found. So, best-practice is to make your customer effort score (CES) the unifying metric to which all departments are held.

In a nutshell, CES measures how easy it is for customers to get their queries resolved. It provides crucial insight into the "why" behind low Net Promoter Scores, enabling businesses to quickly take action.

All departments can benefit from having CES as a KPI—not just CXOs and customer service departments. For instance, CMOs can use CES data to identify the parts of the customer journey that are encouraging or preventing the growth of passionate brand advocates. Meanwhile, CTOs can take the lead in implementing smart tech solutions that lower the number of contacts and responses required to resolve customers' issues.

The Bottom Line

It's challenging—perhaps impossible—for CXOs, CCOs, and CSOs to solve their companies' longstanding CX issues. And it's not necessarily their fault: The positions set brands up for customer failure.

Instead, customer success hinges on giving CXOs the authority and budget they need to involve every function in crafting simple, consistent, and engaging customer experiences that blend technology with empathy. That is how to win customer loyalty and turn CX into a function that generates long-term revenue.

More Resources on the CXO Role and CX Success

Three Things CXOs Must Know to Stay Relevant

Monitoring Customer Experience: A Holistic Approach for Business Success

Next-Level Personalization Creates Killer Customer Experiences: Four CX Guideposts

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Why a CXO Alone Won't Solve Your CX Problems

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Eng Tan

Eng Tan is the founder and CEO of Simplr, a US-based customer service outsourcing company, where he leads strategic decision-making, product and program development, and business management.

LinkedIn: Eng Tan