In my latest report for Forrester, How Customer Experience Champions Transform Culture, I take a closer look at how companies are using these programs to drive customer obsession. In 2014, a number of companies have launched their own versions of these programs, so we thought it was time to take a closer look. These programs work as extensions of core customer experience teams which tend to be quite small. Champions help:
- Translate what it means to be customer-focused for all roles. Part of their responsibilities is to model customer-obsessed behavior for their colleagues, demonstrating how employees in the call-center, collections or corporate communications can bring customer-obsession to their roles.
- Facilitate communication between the CX team and the rest of the organization. Champions act as eyes, ears and megaphones for CX teams. They identify flaws or disconnects in the customer experience, or in their colleagues' understanding of the experience strategy. They also reiterate and translate CX communications to make them more relevant and timely for their colleagues.
- Build customer-obsessed skills and capacity across the firm. Champions serve as mentors and trainers to their colleagues to foster the dissemination of both a customer-centric mindset and customer experience knowledge.
- Test and iterate new customer experience initiatives. Program participants often serve as informal focus groups, providing feedback to the CX team about new initiatives, and about how to roll out new programs to the organization.
To build a successful customer experience champions program, companies should:
- Recruit employees with the credibility to promote change. Champions programs thrive when they include employees who demonstrate a passion for delivering great customer experiences. Companies should establish a nomination process that identifies candidates known for their customer focus. For example, professional services firm Crowe Horwath uses client feedback from its voice of the customer (VoC) system to select candidates for it smabassadors program. Individuals must meet certain thresholds of positive client feedback to be considered.
- Train champions in customer experience fundamentals. Customer experience professionals should make sure that program participants understand customer experience principles, and why customer experience is important to their company. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has all champions read Forrester's book Outside In to build core CX knowledge. It also provides related training in the six disciplines of customer experience. Other companies have trained their champions to analyze and interpret VoC data, and map customer journeys.
- Support champions in their missions. Champions need ongoing direction about how to integrate what they've learned into their day-to-day work. Potential activities range from evangelizing customer focus at department meetings, managing specific projects, or helping departments apply CX methodologies. At Allianz Life, the customer advocates in the operations division were trained to use a framework that helps them think through the impact of their work on the customer and producer experience. The advocates meet twice a month to share examples of how they've applied the framework and to learn about new customer experience content from the CX team. And Allianz Life ensures accountability by adding a goal related to advocate responsibilities to all participants' performance evaluations.
- Communicate program success stories. Champions give a CX team eyes and ears to collect a wide range of success stories that can help build support across the organization. Program leaders need to plan mechanisms -- such as intranet sites, peer-to-peer awards, or company recognition programs -- to gather these stories from champions and their colleagues. A collections department employee who participated in the John Deere Financial champions program used her storyboarding skills to outline the different business cycles of customers. She then shared this information with her teammates to increase their understanding of customers' business cycles and improve their collections process. As a result, she helped her department gain some of the highest Net Promoter Scores in the company. The company gave her a recognition award, and John Deere Financial leadership continues to tell this story.
For more detail on customer experience champions programs, head on over to Forrester to read the full report. And I hope to see you at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West in Anaheim, California on November 6-7 or Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA November 17-18 in London.
+ + + + + + +
About the Author: Sam Stern is a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research serving Customer Experience professionals, serving Customer Experience professionals. Learn more about Forrester's customer experience practice at forrester.com/customerexperience.