Develop and deploy a resilient Customer Experience Governance Model

– put together the building blocks of your internal CX processes to address customer needs

Customer Experience like every other discipline or organizational process hinges on several key components: people, measurement framework, processes and tools, and technologies. Crucially, people constitute key elements such as structure and provide oversight as well as act as conduits to the rest of the organization. Therefore, in your quest to build a customer-centric culture, you need to identify the individuals and teams within each cross-functional area who will take ownership of the actual improvement work and projects to be executed.  A good starting point for the customer experience journey in the short term is provisional governance.

This is a cross-functional cross-hierarchical team that will tackle initial tasks. Experts recommend a form of documentation, Customer Experience Charter that will capture agreements on how to execute processes effectively and efficiently. The charter will spell out clearly how success will be measured by identifying what metrics to measure, the governance structure is usually made up of a committee of 6 – 14 people representing key stakeholders in the organization, a communications approach that will be a vehicle to communicate progress, milestones that will indicate short-term goals to accomplish and inhibitors (change resistors) to take note of.

Additionally, you will need a supporting structure for decision-making on how to recruit ‘charges’ and who to hold accountable. The charter is a useful tool to help your organization become aligned with what you are trying to do and to determine if what is being done is having the intended impact. A fit-for-purpose governance structure will enable you to manage processes and workflows that align with your organizational goals. In many cases, the CX function does not receive immediate attention in the board room. This means as the CX advocate you have a “mountain to climb to embed a culture where the customer becomes the conversation”.

Note that influencing a customer-centric culture requires both determination and tact to navigate the minefield of corporate politics and culture successfully. Your efforts will include the subtle use of a Change Management model to engage the status quo proactively and productively. You need to be proactive to drive home the point that the customer journey must have everyone’s attention, and be productive by ensuring that in embedding a new thinking about the customer you don’t make enemies unnecessarily. Having allies will help build the energy to drive home key initiatives in your experience journey.

It will also help develop the synergy you need to engage all who are apprehensive about the new model and are bent on sticking to the old mindset of inside-out thinking as opposed to outside-in favoured by CX regimes. Here are a few talking points on how to initiate and sustain this drive.

First, think about who leads the Customer Experience initiatives, (Governance). Second, the role of a Chief Customer Officer may not happen immediately but certainly is a key spoke in your plan. Third, Action Teams will operationalize your CX strategy. Fourth, Activators to champion your campaign, and fifth skilled CX professionals who will help embed CX culture and processes.


This is made up originally of a provisional governance structure selected by the head of the organization, and its focus is on the initial task of developing the Charter and defining goals. It will be a cross-functional group with decision-making and organizational power spanning processes, divisions, and geographies. The next steps in this process would be to work towards the institution of a permanent governance structure where the membership will have oversight of all customer experience activities in the organization, led by a Chief Customer Officer. These will be responsible for coordinating all customer experience activities.

They will normally be long-term members of the company with several years of experience thus fulfilling the role in addition to their normal roles. Members from Sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and product development among others will be represented in this group. They will be the hub and sounding board for all related issues. They are there to create consistency in the customer experience and ensure that when interacting with customers they are delivering the brand promise. These leaders will serve as role models to deliver customer experience goals to those on the frontlines who serve customers directly, and regularly.

They will also ensure that the correct metrics are in place with matching incentives to align typically sliced units into effective cross-functional teams. Organization design must support rather than stand in the way of customer experience goals. The organizational culture must support localized ownership of customer experience success, deeply and broadly across employees to make customer experience excellence a way of life in the company by, keeping executives and employees motivated to see their jobs in a customer-centered context. Top companies like FedEx use a steering committee to review CX improvement projects.

The Chief Customer Officer role

According to Jeanne Bliss author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0, “Successful Chief Customer/Experience digs into the operations of the business. They unite the C-Suite and the business to reevaluate how to grow the business, and they guide the organization to prioritize customer-driven growth.” (“C-suite” refers to the executive-level managers within a company e.g. Chief Executive Officer – CEO, Chief Operating Officer – COO, etc). Their main responsibilities are centred around leading initiatives and advocating for customers across the organization, acting as change agents, and motivating frontline employees to align with CX goals.

For CCOs or CXOs (Customer Experience Officers) to be successful they must be respected for their wisdom and experience in the organization. It is recommended that an appointee to this role must be someone from adjacent parts of the organization or another respected organization to establish credibility and trust. The CCO for an organization, GoCardless, one of the fastest growing Fintech businesses in the UK, Pat Phelan was at the forefront of supporting customers throughout the pandemic. The key is to have someone with empathy and perspective from multiple points of view.

Someone who has rotated in the organization will easily fit into this role. Such a person will better serve in this role given the authority and budget to get things done. This person may not necessarily be responsible for doing everything but must have the organizational power and influence to have oversight and executive powers in the creation and sustainment of agreed CX-related organizational initiatives. By making sure the customer’s company values are represented in everything they see and hear they can handhold the client and offer personalized service while dealing with them. The key is to plan for the future, and what your customers will want from you going forward.

Action teams

Another step in establishing governance for your Customer Experience is to set up Action teams. These are cross-functional teams assembled to solve a customer problem or activity. Once they accomplish their goal they are dissolved or moved on to the next issue. Let’s consider this example in a vehicle assembly plant where components are ordered for the next phase in the value chain if parts-ordering is an issue the company recruits from sales, marketing, operations, and human resources and supply chain on the team to address the challenge. They are supported by CX governance and the CCO and his/her staff.

Ebenezer Banful a customer experience proponent shares the following insights into the role of the Customer Experience Team. According to him, Customer experience teams should predominantly look at their role in the organization as distinct parts in the following ways. First, gathering information and knowledge, according to him operating purely on opinions often leads to suspicion, distrust, and unwarranted criticism. Second, implement improvements through change initiatives and let the customer know their voice is being heard. Third, generate and share insights by digging in and making sense of data that you discover actionable insights.

Fourth, monitoring and measuring help you see patterns, encourage people to improve performance, and show the relationship between what you do and the outcomes you are striving for. Finally, recommend and advise on processes to change different people, technology, and skills. Action teams enhance your communication systems both internally (employees) and externally (customers), thus enabling you to make more informed decisions, design and deliver more successful outcomes, and create mutual value. An active approach to learning supports creativity.

Customer experience activators

These are essentially brand champions or ambassadors (they go by many names depending on the organization).   They are mid-level frontline personnel who serve as the eyes and ears of Customer Experience initiatives. Their role is to gather feedback from frontline employees as well as communicate to the frontline staff strategies being deployed.  Their feedback on how various CX initiatives are being received by both employees and customers provide useful insights for both publics. It is a critical informal link between the governance committee led by the CCO/CXO and the front-line staff who are responsible for getting things done at the frontline.

They don’t need to be set up at once they come into the fray as issues emerge and the need arises to keep a close look at the goings-on at different levels. Aaron Rios, Head of Operations at the rapidly growing Midland States Bank set up governance and a series of actions of teams. Provisional governance was composed of people from across the organization representing marketing, operations, human resources, retail operations, call center, and other areas across their business units. they deployed VOC metrics across the organization by business line and generated feedback on an ongoing basis.

By using action teams, they effectively changed focus from acquisitions to customer-centred issues, thus significantly improving their customer engagement process. Change agents have the difficult task of walking in the customer’s shoes. They must see the customer’s perspective in the way processes and experiences are designed for customers. The goal is to be in a place where you can objectively consider the customer’s real experience, not the one you might assume they have based on internal process maps or system flow charts. Start with one part of the journey you know is challenging for customers, or start the part of the journey you understand the best.

Recruit or train skilled CX practitioners

This will depend on what the organization stands for in terms of business focus and the stakeholders it engages. There must be clear team objectives as well as clearly defined roles within the teams. CX proponents have a direct impact on driving CX to address both internal and external (customer) needs. It’s about championing the customer to change the culture of the organization to become one focused on the customer from the outside rather than from the inside.  This should be someone who is working to set up CX teams and drive CX thinking within the organization to keep everyone aligned.

You are going to need people who may have done this before and who understand how to work across other silos of the business uniquely. They should have a remarkable ability to engage and influence across the full range of departments from securing finance for projects through marketing, operations, and crucially the front lines i.e. The customer-facing staff. This includes strong influencing and engagement abilities, together with the confidence to map and prioritize complex business scenarios and journeys. According to research, CX professionals have the luxury of being very transferable.

They are particularly amenable in regulated environments such as financial services, utilities, and telecoms. They can bring with them a new way to look at improving customer experience by their flexible approach. These roles encompass such areas as Customer Insight, Customer Strategy, Customer Experience end-to-end implementation roles, Customer Journey, Customer Experience Communications, Digital Customer Experience, Customer Engagement, and loyalty roles. HR and hiring managers must be conversant about the role of the CX team which allows them to streamline their search for candidates with the right approach as well as the right experience.

Customer experience governance is pivotal to setting up an organization where customer experience is one of its disciplines of working. It is an integral component of Customer experience that requires prudent and creative thinking.

The Writer is Head of Training Development & Research Service Excellence Foundation, and Management Consultant (Change and Customer Experience). He can be reached on 059 175 7205,kojo.manuel2016@gmail.com,  https://www.linkedin.com/in/km-13b85717/


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