Governance Structure: How to Take Your CX Team Cross-Functional

Establish these five committees to properly structure and govern a cross-functional CX program.

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Annette Franz

May 11, 2020

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Whether you’re just getting started with your customer experience (CX) transformation work or well on your way, it’s critical to understand that this work cannot be successful without all hands on deck. The entire organization, not just your executives, must not only be committed to but also involved in the work that lies ahead. How do you ensure that happens?

There are a lot of foundational elements that must be in place for the success of the transformation. One of those elements is a governance structure. This structure is critical to success for a variety of reasons. But first, let me clarify what it is exactly.

BusinessDictionary.com defines governance as “the establishment of policies, and continuous monitoring of their proper implementation, by the members of the governing body of an organization. It includes the mechanisms required to balance the powers of the members (with the associated accountability), and their primary duty of enhancing the prosperity and viability of the organization.”

In the customer experience world, governance is comprised of two parts: 

  1. Structure: It is all about the governing body but also about establishing policies, monitoring, and enhancing the prosperity of the organization. This part covers both oversight and execution, as well as driving accountability throughout the organization by creating committees and assigning specific tasks and responsibilities to those committees.

  2. Operating Model: It is also an operating model that drives execution of the CX vision to strategy through data democratization, socializing and operationalizing insights to action, prioritizing improvement initiatives, developing new business processes, defining success metrics, outlining the decision-making process, defining the communication plan, and more.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus specifically on the first part, the structure. It consists of clearly-defined cross-functional roles and responsibilities for decision, action, change, oversight, and accountability. 

The structure stands in the form of committees, which must be cross-functional in order to avoid siloed efforts overtaking the CX transformation work. Their role, in a nutshell, is to keep the entire organization focused on improving the customer experience and doing what’s right for customers.

At a high-level, the committees within the structure have a variety of responsibilities that make them critical to transformation success, not the least of which includes commitment and alignment from the top (see Executive Committee section below). 

Other general committee responsibilities include:

  • Provide oversight into the various customer experience improvement initiatives and provide guidance and prioritization with regard to each.

  • Define criteria for prioritization, metrics to track progress, and overall success metrics.

  • Monitor progress of the initiatives toward meeting business objectives and desired outcomes.

  • Review customer insights and ensure that they are disseminated to the respective departments to act on them.

  • Provide oversight to ensure cross-functional teams work together and share responsibility for improvements. 

  • Maintain a master list of customer experience initiatives not only for the purpose of monitoring but also to use when prioritizing new initiatives against the current workload.

  • Review, prioritize, and approve budgets for customer experience improvement initiatives. 

  • Ensure grass roots adoption of the work to be done and facilitates that groundswell needed to make this successful organization-wide.

The most common committees

There are various committees that can be included in governance structure, and roles and responsibilities will vary somewhat by committee.

The most common committees and roles in the structure include an Executive Committee, a CX Executive Sponsor, an EX Executive Sponsor, a Core CX Team, CX Champions, and a Culture Committee.

The chart below shows you the relationships between each committee.

CX Journey Governance Structure chart for cross functional cx programs

Let’s look at each one of those in more detail.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is composed of key executives in your organization; this can include department heads, business unit heads, and other business leaders (C or V level) deemed essential to successful outcomes.

I would recommend that your CFO be a part of this committee; it may not be necessary for them to sit in on every meeting, but having insight into the various initiatives early on will certainly help when it comes time to prioritize and to get budget approval.

This committee will maintain a master list of organization-wide projects and initiatives, including those specific to initiatives born out of customer understanding efforts. The committee will meet monthly to get updates from the other committees, at which time they will:

  • Align transformation goals to business goals.

  • Agree on success criteria and metrics.

  • Review, prioritize, and approve initiatives to be further developed and designed. 

  • Review and approve action plans.

  • Identify owners, additional resources required to execute, and budget for these initiatives.

  • Provide budget, resources, and guardrails for execution, as needed.

  • Empower the committees and respective teams/resources to implement.

  • Drive accountability for delivery of insights and action plans across functions.

The Executive Committee has ultimate oversight into all things customer experience, obviously. They hold the keys to transformation success.

Executive Sponsors

I mentioned earlier that there are two types of Executive Sponsors, CX and EX. Ideally, this role would be handled by one individual, but it seems more fitting to have a separate sponsor to champion customer experience (CX) work and one for employee experience (EX) work.

Rarely have I found that both customer experience and employee experience oversight and responsibilities fall with one individual. Usually, that falls with the CCO or VP of CX for customer experience and with the CHRO or VP of HR/People and Culture/etc. for employee experience. These two individuals must partner and work together.

Regardless of where the function resides, their roles are the same. They are the first lines of defense for their respective areas of oversight, and they are champions for their constituents, i.e., customers and employees, respectively, across the organization. 

They are responsible for developing the vision, strategy, and roadmap for their work and have oversight of their staff and teams to drive execution of the work to be done. They are “uniters” within the organization, educating and bringing everyone together for—and aligning them with—a common cause and purpose. They must ensure that the customer and the impact on the customer is embedded in all decisions, discussions, and designs throughout the organization.

Core CX Team

The Core CX Team is composed of the staff that does the critical underlying CX work and keeps the CX engine humming, so to speak. I’ve written another article about the roles and skills needed on this team, but at a high level this team does the following, and more.

  • Develop, implement, and manage tools and processes to understand customers.

  • Co-create and design new experiences with customers.

  • Centralize, analyze, and synthesize customer feedback and data.

  • Identify metrics to track and ensure those metrics are linked to business outcomes.

  • Share the insights from the customer understanding tools throughout the organization.

  • Develop the strategy to achieve the desired and intended customer experience.

  • Prepare internal and external communications about the work that is being done.

Again, refer to my other article for complete details on what this team does. For the purposes of this article, know that the work that they do feeds, informs, and supports the other committees.

CX Champions

This is a cross-functional committee, with representation from each department. Having that cross-functional representation helps break down silos and allows for each department's voice, feedback, and perspectives to be brought to—and heard by—the committee. 

Committee members focus on CX improvements and changes that must originate or occur in their respective business areas. They educate their colleagues and are the conduit from their departments to the committee at large, and vice versa.

Within committee meetings, they represent their departments and are subject matter experts on customer needs and business processes stemming from their individual departments. In this regard, they also become an extension of the Core CX Team, as the core staff cannot and does not have the insights into each department’s area of expertise and how that contributes to the experience overall.

Committee members drive the work within their departments, first by educating and then by socializing feedback and insights received. Ultimately, they facilitate and champion change initiatives within their departments. The individual departments are then responsible for completing a root cause analysis, identifying improvements to be made, and providing all the details to get those improvements prioritized and approved by the Executive Committee. 

Remember that the Core CX Team can only ensure that the insights are delivered to the various departments who need to act on them. The actual customer experience improvements are completed by the responsible departments.

Culture Committee

A Culture Committee is a group of cross-functional employees who meet to identify, discuss, and plan ways to promote and to drive the desired culture throughout the organization. You must have cross-functional representation on this Committee as well, as that diversity ensures that no one area of the company has greater influence over culture development and change than any other.

This group of like-minded (as in, aligned with the culture you desire) individuals live and breathe the company core values and culture. They have a ground-level view of “how things work” in the company, and they identify, discuss, and plan ways to promote and drive the desired culture.

The Committee helps to create that groundswell of adoption of the culture traits as defined by the core values and corresponding behaviors. One of the most important things that they do is to socialize, operationalize, and model the core values. They also brainstorm and develop programs and events (e.g., fun, educational, or health/wellness events) that bring employees together to build and support the culture. The Committee may even help to define (or revisit) the core values, and if you haven’t yet defined acceptable behaviors aligned with each value, they can undertake that exercise, too. 

Committee members are also a conduit between their departments and this committee, as well as the Executive Committee. They must talk to fellow employees to keep a pulse on the culture and what's happening in the workplace. With this information, they can identify ways to support the evolution of the culture or mitigate its erosion.

In conclusion

The Core CX Team can’t do this work alone. The changes must be activated by your base, throughout the organization, by the people who are delivering the experience that needs to be improved. You’ll need folks who can take data and insights and operationalize them within their departments; they know best what needs to be done and how any changes or improvements connect to—and affect—other departments. 

The article title promises that you’ll learn about taking your CX team cross-functional by establishing governance, and specifically, a governance structure. As you can see from the various committees within this structure, customer experience is a team sport—not just the Core CX Team but the entire organization. 

Having the right structure in place ensures that you’ll have that grassroots involvement among employees—a groundswell of sorts—to create and to perpetuate the culture, the customer experience, and the employee experience you’re working to achieve.

How to run a successful CX cross-functional program
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About the guest author 

Annette Franz is the founder and chief experience officer of CX Journey Inc.

She’s got 25 years of experience in both helping companies understand their employees and customers and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience—so that, together, you can design a better experience for all constituents. She has worked with both B2B and B2C brands in a multitude of industries. Connect with her: www.cx-journey.com | @annettefranz | @cxjourney | LinkedIn | Facebook

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