Customer experience has taken on a greater role as consumers have an almost exponential number of choices with whom they do business today. As such, the role of chief experience officer (CXO) has become a very important position in customer-facing businesses.
Let's take a look at what should be done during the first 30, 60 and 90 days by someone taking on such a role.
The Role of Chief Experience Officer
According to Salary.com, as of November 2022, the average salary of a CXO, which is a C-suite position, is $212,240, and the salary range is between $182,948 and $254,437 a year. Before delving into what a CXO should be doing in their first 90 days, we will first look into the tasks that generally fall under the role.
CXOs collaborate with other executives, including the chief operating officer (COO), chief technology officer (CTO), chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO). Conversations tend to revolve around customer experience initiatives, CX tasks and the software used by the CX staff. Additionally, CXOs will be responsive to requests from other C-suite executives and will keep them up to date on the success or failure of any CX efforts.
CXOs also work directly with customer experience team members to ensure they can effectively perform their duties, as well as to facilitate a better employee experience. Additionally, they may work with the HR department to make sure that their team is able to collaborate with other departments in the business.
CXOs play a key role in the development of a customer journey map. A customer journey map defines all of the touchpoints a customer has with a brand throughout the marketing funnel that occurs across all of the brand’s channels and is one of the core elements used to improve the customer experience.
The CXO must have a deep understanding of the value that a brand provides to its customers. This value serves as a point with which to measure customer engagement and satisfaction. Using Voice of the Customer, feedback and surveys, the CXO continues the iterative process, providing actionable insights that will be used to improve products and services to enhance the customer experience.
CXOs often interact directly with customers as a way to better understand their customer base. These interactions can involve conversations in person and over the phone, feedback forms, surveys, customer service tickets and more.
CXOs regularly measure their brand’s CX performance using key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics in order to obtain actionable insights that will improve the customer experience.
“In any new role as a senior leader, there are obvious steps taken to settle into an organization, like talking to your colleagues, asking questions, listening, and understanding the culture,” said Chris Pennington, chief customer officer at SugarCRM, a CRM platform provider. “These still need to be done, but as it relates to customer experience (CX), there are unique aspects of the 100-day action plan to help guide CX leaders through their first critical months.”
Related Article: Drive Growth by Improving Your Customer Experience Strategy
The First Month for CXOs
Pennington provided an overview of how he envisions the first 90 days of a CXO’s position with a business, and said that when taking on such a role, it's helpful to think of 30-60-90 as a crawl, walk and run. “The first 30 days are fact-finding (listening). The next 30 to 60 days are an assessment. From there, 60 to 90 days is the period to formulate. By the time you reach the 90-day mark, you need to have formulated a plan that will carry you forward with priorities for the next 12 months.” Each period can be broken down into specific actions that should be taken.
Bill Staikos, SVP, evangelist and head of community engagement at Medallia, an enterprise experience platform provider, told CMSWire the first 30 days of any role should be about listening. “Understanding where your company is on their customer experience journey, meeting with your team members, other employees, executives and vendors,” said Staikos.
Staikos recommended that new CX leaders connect with their CFO and their chief HR officer. “Share what you’ve heard in your first 29 days, ideas you have, how the CX team can help drive efficiency and growth for the CFO, and how important the workforce experience is to the work your team is leading and areas of partnership with HR.”
The importance of talking directly to customers cannot be overstated, and for a CXO, it’s part of the job. Pennington told CMSWire that as the head of CX, unlike many other senior roles, you have a perfect rationale for engaging directly with customers. “It’s critical to start immediately. As the new kid on the block, you can ask innocent questions and you'll be forgiven if you don’t have the answers.”
By interacting with customers and learning about their positive and negative experiences, the CXO is in a much better position to be able to improve the customer journey. “Learn what is the intended versus actual experience being delivered across digital, sales, marketing, contact center and physical stores or branches if you have them,” explained Staikos. “This will include gathering your company’s research on key drivers across touchpoints, key journeys, customer segmentation, and who in the business owns it and is doing something or nothing about it.”
Finally, Staikos suggested the CX leaders request feedback from peers, partners, and stakeholders, and adjust accordingly. He indicated that there are three key outputs to the first 30 days, which include:
- A summary of findings, and insights, including issues/opportunities to address, with associated priorities and proof points.
- An outline of the opportunity to be addressed, and initial thoughts on a strategy to address it over the next 9-12 months.
- A stakeholder map that the CXO and their team can leverage to understand who are the points of influence, who is indifferent, who are the detractors/naysayers and who the promoters are.
Related Article: Enough Already With Customer Feedback. Make Your Move
The Second Month for CXOs
Once the first month is out of the way, the CXO will be better able to deeply delve into the processes involved in improving the customer experience. “Here is where you can start to put more meat around the bone against the outline you created in your first 30 days,” said Staikos. “Not only do you need to put more specificity around a strategy, but also get your team members to lead initiatives based on your assessment of the team in the first 30 days.”
Staikos said that this is the point to begin engaging stakeholders on your strategy. “Not only do you need to help them understand how CX can have a positive impact on their business, but you will need to secure their support for your team’s efforts as well; you may even need monetary support from each,” said Staikos.
This is also where cross-pollination from other organizations can begin to occur. “When you meet with stakeholders, you should also engage them to understand who from their respective organizations should be part of your governance program,” said Staikos. “This should be a cross-functional group of leaders who will commit their time each month or quarter to help you move the needle on CX.”
Similar to the first 30 days, Staikos suggested that at this point, CX leaders should once again ask for feedback. “The feedback will start to be more specific and actionable as well. By now, individuals in your organization will also expect you to act on it, much like your customers leaving feedback do,” said Staikos, adding that CXOs should be a champion for that cause here. Staikos believes that the three key outputs to the CXO’s first 60 days should include:
- Their CX strategy, including a timeline, tangible actions, and who is accountable for the work, who needs to be consulted, informed, etc.
- A revised summary of findings and insights based on stakeholder engagement, including revisions to the stakeholder map. This will become sharper at this stage.
- An action plan on the feedback they’ve received from internal stakeholders, including a timeline to execute and any requests for resources to address the feedback.
Related Article: 5 Ways Customer Experience Strategies Fail
The Third Month for CXOs
According to Staikos, the final month is all about starting on execution. “You have listened, you have engaged and the company hired you to effect positive change. This is when you start,” said Staikos. “You can make adjustments as you receive new information and feedback.”
As with the previous two months, CXOs should request feedback and discuss the feedback they’ve already received and what they’ve done or are doing about it, Staikos suggested. He said that the three critical outputs to the first 90 days should include:
- Updates to leadership on their strategy and early insights into execution.
- Their first governance meeting and outcomes from it, including actions to be taken.
- Update on the feedback they’ve received and any changes to the activities to address the feedback.
According to Todd Strickler, senior vice president of product at Get Well, a digital patient engagement platform provider, although it’s easy enough to commit to becoming more customer-focused, it’s much harder to follow through on that commitment because most companies trade off customer experience for operational realities at the very first decision point of their customer-first journey. “Your leadership and your mettle will be tested, but the rewards are well worth the effort — not just in customer satisfaction but also in top-line and bottom-line growth.”
Final Thoughts on the First Three Months for CXOs
The position of CXO is pivotal for brands that are customer-centric. As such, the first 90 days of the CXO’s role with a business are key to the implementation of a successful customer experience initiative. The process begins with collaboration with other executives and employees, talking to customers, and finally collecting feedback from peers, partners and stakeholders.
Next, the CXO will begin to delve deeper into their CX strategy, engage with stakeholders about it so they understand its value, and once again, request and act on feedback. Finally, now that the CX strategy is finalized, it’s time to take action. More feedback is collected, leadership is updated, and the iterative process continues.