Cross-functional customer experience (CX) is the ideal state of a customer experience program at any organization. With cross-functional leadership, operations and governance, customers are much more likely to receive the experience we envision for them. Cross-functional customer experience helps us break down silos, work through inefficiencies, and create a cohesive and seamless experience for customers and employees.
So…how do you get there?
Building a cross-functional customer experience culture requires what most buildings do. You need a strong foundation, or it all falls apart!
Start with a customer experience program charter.
What is a CX charter?
Project charters are typically brief documents to get everyone aligned with goals, outcomes, responsibilities and accountabilities around a specific project. They are an accepted part of successful project management.
Customer experience program charters serve a similar purpose. Define your customer experience program in a concise document to define what customer experience requires in your organization and what roles, responsibilities, timelines and outcomes are expected.
This should not be developed in a silo or singular place, but someone does need to be accountable for creating and finalizing the CX charter in your organization.
What should your charter include?
Each charter can be a little different, based on your organization’s specific workflow, business requirements and organizational structure.
Any CX charter should include at least the following sections:
Customer experience vision.
CX goals and objectives.
CX roles and responsibilities.
Customer experience prioritization.
Cross-functional CX logistics.
Customer experience vision
What is the ideal outcome for your customer experience? The best organizations have CX visions clearly articulated.
This vision should lead not just your cross-functional team or program, but all efforts around delivering this experience for your customers.
If you are creating a CX vision for the first time, a word of caution: keep it brief and keep it about the customers.
Becoming a leading provider or providing shareholder value are not terms that reflect focus on your customers. Disney, for example, has a customer experience vision that is short and meaningful: “We create happiness.”
And if you don’t have a perfect vision yet, that’s OK. The important thing for your charter to paint the picture of the experience you want to deliver. What’s most important to your brand and your customers?
Delta Airlines created a vision around a better pet flight experience by creating an image: a photograph complete with a happy family reunited with their happy dog. Using an image can be one way to unite an idea with a vision for the future.
Whatever you do, don’t jump into the tactics of building a cross-functional team without knowing what that vision is for your organization.
CX goals and objectives
How will you measure the success of your program? Not just from a CX metrics perspective, but for the overall company?
What are the true objectives of your customer experience strategy?
Goals might include reducing customer effort, or increasing customer happiness to lead to increased renewals or referrals. Your goals should serve the customer and lead to successful brand outcomes.
Objectives should serve those bigger goals. For example, let’s say your goal is to reduce obstacles to customer success, leading to fewer inbound customer service calls and overall improved Customer Satisfaction Scores. Your objectives would define what that looks like specifically. Maybe an objective is to reduce customer service calls by 2% within 12 months. Another objective would be to improve customer satisfaction by 5% overall.
Objectives provide important measurements and benchmarks for cross-functional understanding of CX success.
CX roles and responsibilities
Your charter is a document. Your CX Committee is the engine!
To provide accountability and action around these goals and objectives, a CX Leadership Committee or steering committee is crucial.
In your charter, define who is involved in this team. The best cross-functional CX programs have cross-functional CX teams. Include leaders who can help push priorities through operations and those managers and front-line employees who are closest to the customers.
Now, who will be responsible for what? Define those roles and assign specific outcomes to specific committee members.
A cross-functional team with only “idea generating” power won’t deliver on your charter. Define roles around both strategy and tactics.
This leadership team represents a small percentage of those who need to be involved to deliver a truly cross-functional customer experience strategy. As you define roles, look beyond the committee and define how most of the organization will be involved.
For example, if a goal is to reduce friction for customers, then including a feedback loop with contact center agents might be an important step in staying ahead of pain points for customers. Define the roles of the contact center leaders as well as those on your team who need to manage that feedback process.
How will you prioritize your CX initiatives? Define this in your charter.
How will you use the customer feedback mechanisms and data available to you?
The committee may be involved in voting for or discussing specific items, but having a framework for these decisions is key. Require a balance of customer value and brand value to determine your priorities.
Tie prioritization back to the CX vision and overall goals for your company. What resources are required? Is there a specific budget to work from? All of these factors will determine how you define prioritization.
Who should be included in communications and insights from the CX Committee? Who needs to be informed? What can stakeholders do to help your CX strategy become truly cross-functional?
Certain leaders are not going to be on your CX Committee, but they will need to be involved and included. Define in your charter who those leaders are, and what they can expect from your committee, as well as what you’d like to expect from them.
Cross-functional customer experience logistics
It’s hard to shift gears from thinking so strategically to the details of governance around customer experience. But it’s critical we do.
There are several ways CX governance requires specific behaviors and actions from your CX Committee as well as throughout your organization.
What roles will be on your team? Will you be expanding your CX Committee in the future? If so, what are the appropriate ways to do that?
What is the cadence of meetings and communications? Who is responsible for those communications?
Are there specific deadlines, timeframes or milestones to consider? Consider larger organizational programs and how your cross-functional CX work can support those outcomes.
How will you introduce this charter across your organization? What sort of specific communications are required?
What is required for input and suggestions from across the organization? Will your CX Committee have a formal feedback loop for those who submit recommendations for CX initiatives?
There are lots of logistics to think through before and during your work on customer experience. Brainstorm a few and then define what you can in the charter.
For more, check out this article on governance structure.
How should you use your CX charter?
Business documents are only useful if you actually use them. Your customer experience charter can help you not only introduce and promote the idea of cross-functional customer experience throughout your organization but also create a touchstone for people and practices today and into the future.
There are several ways to create alignment and efficiencies based on this charter.
1. Use the charter as your north star in decision-making around customer experience. Start each CX Committee meeting referring to the charter. Highlight the key pieces for the decisions you are making. Ask team members to align requests with the charter.
2. Review the charter with anyone joining your CX Committee. Committees will lose and gain members over time. The charter gives you a shared language from the beginning of any relationship.
3. Take the CX charter on the road. Share the charter with leaders throughout your organization. Ask for their buy-in and support. They will need to hear this message multiple times, but the consistency of a charter builds momentum.
4. Ask for input from everyone in the organization via the charter. Build feedback mechanisms for employees to offer insights, ideas and suggestions around the overall customer experience. Include the charter as a key factor in those submissions.
5. Look for specific ways to live up to the charter and vision. The whole point of any customer experience program is to improve the journey for customers and in turn achieve better business outcomes for your organization. Using the charter as a lens for reviewing customer feedback helps highlight what is most important to customers and what requires your attention first.
Your charter must evolve
You’d never create a monthly customer experience metrics report and declare it’s perfect and done after just one month. Your CX charter is also a living document that should evolve with you, your brand and your customer’s journey.
As your organizational structure changes or your customer’s journey evolves, your charter should, too. Consider reviewing and revisiting the charter at least once a year as part of your CX Committee structure.
And finally, realize your charter won’t do the work. The charter is a guide and a tool, but creating better experiences based on that is still up to you! Your teams across the organization need to put the customer first, understand how to prioritize actions, and continue to measure their effectiveness. That requires a lot of communication, patience and repeated measurement.
Customer experience is a business strategy and discipline. But even more importantly than that, it’s a mindset. The best charters begin as a way to define these traits in an organization, but the best organizations begin to show these traits and the charter becomes a reflection of them!
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About the guest author
Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CEO, Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext
Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and is CEO of Experience Investigators. She is a customer experience speaker, writer, and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in assisting all types of companies, including Fortune 500. Specialties include in-depth customer experience evaluations, customer journey mapping, user experience analysis, and leading workshops and training programs. Her mission is: To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.™ Connect with her: experienceinvestigators.com | @jeanniecw