smith+co on
customer experience
Tim Wade
  • By Tim Wade
  • Nov 23 2015

7 steps to getting your customer experience project signed off

How can you positively change the internal dynamic?

A thought-out, purposeful customer experience strategy has now become a cornerstone for leading brands throughout every business sector. Viral videos and public engagement success stories are often testament to a brand that has mastered the ever-evolving challenge of delivering an authentic and meaningful customer experience.

However, many success stories owe their credit to a small internal team that endured an exhausting process to change the culture and direction of their brand. From my career, I can say with complete honesty that getting ‘sign-off’ to start or evolve a customer experience, often feels like turning the QE2 on your own.

So, for those managers or directors swamped in meetings about meetings about customer experience strategy and its importance, I hope these reflections will encourage you.

The seven steps to ‘sign off’

1. Get credible:

I’m sure you already have this in abundance but a lesson for me was that in order to be able to gain agreement to deliver a customer experience strategy, I first needed to gain personal credibility. I did this through delivering a strong commercial return from marketing activity. This isn’t something you can blag.

2. Identify those you need to influence:

This one is pretty obvious, but knowing what makes the people you need to influence tick is vital. At Best Western, the board was made up of independent hotel owners so knowing what was important to them in their business helped in my approach.

3. Build an emotional AND rational case:

Most business cases focus on the rational elements of return on investment, these are important but even board members make decisions based on their emotions. People can always find holes in the most rational business case if they are not emotionally bought into developing a customer experience strategy. Start with the emotional sell.

4. Be prepared for the long haul:

Changing someone’s beliefs is not going to happen overnight, in one board meeting or because of one expertly written business case. You have to be prepared for the long haul to align a team of people.

5. Don’t go too big too early:

This is where I learnt the most. In my enthusiasm to develop the Best Western brand and customer experience I developed a pretty big business case that contained everything I believed we should be doing – Big Mistake. This was far too big for the board and they found it difficult to comprehend the scale. Breaking down big things into smaller more easily digestible chunks and allowing people the time to believe, is a much stronger approach.

6. Embrace your hurdles without giving up:

Things won’t always go your way and you will get knocked back. Use this as an opportunity to reassess your approach, try to understand why you got knocked back and come back stronger. Don’t give up, but accept that it may take you more time to achieve what you wanted.

7. Get an external opinion:

My last CEO used to say to me that an expert in the room adds credibility to what you are trying to achieve. I think this depends on the culture of your organisation and the attitude to external suppliers but it worked at Best Western. By bringing in people that had delivered a customer experience strategy in other organisations gave the board the confidence that it would be successful. This helped them make a much more confident decision.

So is the effort worth it? I’ll let the results from Best Western speak for themselves:

· NPS increase by 7.4%

· Employee engagement up by 346%

· Significant improvements in financial metrics and a sizable return on investment

Here at Smith+Co we’ve unpacked some of these ideas in a bit more detail here in our free online toolkit.

For a copy of the Amazon no1# book ‘On Purpose:how to deliver a branded customer experience people love’ click here.