Colin Shaw is an official LinkedIn Influencer where he has recognized as one of the ‘World’s Top 150 Business Influencers.’ Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy LLC, has been selected by the Financial Times as one of the best management consultancies for the last two years. Colin has written seven bestselling books on Customer experience is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast.
So, you want to be a successful Customer Experience professional. Well, let me tell you what I look out for. I say this as someone who built CX teams in the corporate world and now, according to the Financial Times for the last three years in a row, has built a CX consultancy team that is ‘one of the leading consultancies’.
Here are the seven attributes you need to be successful as a Customer Experience professional.
The 7 Attributes of a Successful Customer Experience Professional
1. Talent for strategic thinking, combined with a doing mentality.
I always say that philosophy is great, but you have to go beyond the philosophy and do something. This concept is so important to me that I named my company after it – Beyond Philosophy. The same idea is behind this necessary attribute.
As a Customer Experience professional, one must develop a strategy, but should also recognize nothing changes unless there is action.
In short: you need to do things, not just talk about doing things.
To help facilitate this ‘doing mentality’ grounded in action, look for quick wins for your organization that fit this strategy and goals to generate a stronger desire by your team to take action that aligns to the strategy.
2. Willingness to be a good collaborator.
Being a good team player is essential in most organizations, but even more so as a Customer Experience professional. You should be prepared to work with people across the company and bring people together as individuals to work toward the common goal.
That requires a desire to listen and collaborate with the team, rather than dictating to them.
There is a phrase we use a lot in our company that says, ‘None of us are as clever as all of us.’ Don’t fall into the trap that you know better than everyone else; you don’t. A collaborative approach, and using the collective brain, is the way to get things embedded and owned by the organization.
3. Ability to work with conflict.
Building on #2, don’t think that this is all about sitting in a drum circle and holding hands.
Customer Experience is not an area for the faint of heart. Customer Experience professionals should say ‘No’ when necessary, be assertive, and work to communicate with those who favor a passive-aggressive approach.
Moreover, Customer Experience professionals should also be willing to call out when there is an issue with a moment in the customer process. For example, Customer Experience professionals should be willing to resort to tactics like calling into the company as if you were a customer and demonstrating in front of the team the problematic moment.
Customer Experience professionals need to have the courage of their convictions, while also being able to communicate in a positive manner.
Everyone is thrilled with the idea of putting the customer at the center of everything they do, until they ask you to change something in your organization.
To make sure these changes are accepted more readily, you should address the motivations of departments.
For example, if the contact center needs to reduce calls or increase cross product usage for customers, define how you can help them achieve this AND improve the customer experience. Also, focus on the ‘Art of the Possible.’ This means embracing those who are early adopters and using their department’s success to bring on board those members of the organization who are not yet convinced that this program is the company’s future.
5. Multi-disciplinary understanding.
It is also essential that Customer Experience professionals know what matters to the different departments.
You need to put yourself in their shoes. Different things drive marketing rather than sales, which both have dissimilar drivers than logistics or the legal department. It would help if you understood the value chain and the effects one group can have on another.
For example, if marketing sends out an offer to all the customers rather than rolling it out in batches, the call center could get flooded with calls, which leads to long wait times and the customer experience suffers.
6. High level of integrity.
All organizations are political. It is also essential that a Customer Experience professional understands the company politics, but not get involved. We recently published a podcast on this that may help.
The success of your program organizationally requires the appearance of an independent plan for the betterment of everyone, not a vehicle for pushing an agenda. You want everyone to see you as the customer champion, not a pawn in someone else’s plan.
7. Excellent communication skills.
One hallmark of a successful Customer Experience professional is the ability to communicate well. It is critical to take a complex subject and simplify it for people.
Some tactics that can help are simple analogies that use the language of your intended audience, or storytelling that depicts a familiar situation for them.
Moreover, the message should be adapted based on the group with whom you communicate to enable appropriate conversation at all levels of the organization.
There you have them; the seven attributes necessary to be successful as a Customer Experience professional. If you can do all of this, I am sure you will be successful, and your customer experience improvement program will influence the company’s bottom line AND improve the experience for your customers.