Customer experience (CX) programs often begin with an idea and a dash of sincere enthusiasm…and little else. To arrive at real outcomes, CX programs depend on cross-functional leadership to turn words and ideas into actions.
But what is that cross-functional team supposed to do, exactly?
A Customer Experience Charter can answer that question.
What is a Customer Experience Charter?
A customer experience charter is a brief document outlining the agreements the CX governing team needs to align with their decisions. It typically focuses on statements around the overall vision and goals, as well as the roles and responsibilities of those on the team.
Any CX charter should address the following six components:
- What is Our CX Vision?
- What are Our CX Goals & Objectives?
- What are Our Roles & Responsibilities?
- How Can We Prioritize CX efforts?
- Who Needs to Know What We’re Doing? Who Needs to Approve?
- How Will This Team Work Together?
But there’s one step to take before you begin building your charter.
First, Build Your Team
A CX charter is nothing without a cross-functional team to use it.
Some organizations call this a CX Strategic Council, or a CX Steering Committee. For the sake of this article, we’ll simplify things by referring to the CX Team.
Who should be on your cross-functional CX team? That depends on your organization, of course, but there are a few key players to include.
Include any leader who will have direct accountability over the most likely actions required to improve the customer journey.
This typically includes leaders from marketing, product development, customer success and customer service. However, your organization may want to include leaders who specialize in certain parts of the customer journey, like onboarding or logistics.
Invite team members from other areas that are close to the customer experience.
Those who lead front-line or field operations, accounting and product delivery can all provide valuable viewpoints.
Ultimately, your CX team is there to help with overall governance and prioritization for your CX efforts.
That means someone needs to approve resources, provide budget and gain overall approval. Some teams do this as one team, including C-Suite leaders who can make these decisions. Some do this as two teams – the CX team provides recommendations to the CX Executive Leadership team, who ultimately assigns resources and provides guidance.
Then, Create a CX Charter
Project charters have become a common tool in project management, and the CX charter serves a similar purpose. The charter is a brief document to align the vision, purpose, responsibilities and roles for achieving customer experience success.
But customer experience is a team sport, so great cross-functional teams also understand how important it is to communicate ongoing success and support the processes and systems required to deliver to the customer throughout their journey.
The charter, however, is not a magical document. The charter is only good when leaders hold each other accountable for what the charter outlines. This requires a great foundation of what CX should be at your organization.
These Six Questions can Help You Build Your Own Unique CX Charter:
1.What is Our CX Vision?
Telling a cross-functional team to “go do CX” is like saying “go do business.” Yet some teams get little more than that direction.
Remember that customer experience happens whether you are intentional or not. That means it’s possible to simply fix what’s broken in the journey and feel like progress is being made.
But customer experience management means designing an intentional journey for your customers.
How do you know what you’re designing unless you’ve defined what is most important about the experience you deliver and the future of your organization?
That’s where having a CX Mission and CX Success Statement can help. Getting these foundational items in place before launching a cross-functional team can help everyone align on overall goals and the vision of what’s next.
When the CX Team is recommending where to invest, it’s easy for two leaders to see things differently based on their own goals. The CX Charter helps leaders see beyond their own teams or goals and look for ways to improve the entire customer experience (more on this topic below).
2. What are Our CX Goals & Objectives?
Your charter should include a concise statement regarding the customer experience goals and objectives. Ideally, these have been defined in a customer experience success statement.
These might include simple objectives like “reduce customer wait times by 25%” or they might include broader goals like “reduce customer effort throughout the customer onboarding process.” Ideally, you want to follow our own SMIRC Goals make these specific, measurable, insipring, relevant, & contextual.
3. What are Our Roles & Responsibilities?
Hopefully, you’ve built a team of cross-functional, diverse leadership. Diverse viewpoints can provide great opportunities to understand the customer experience and gain buy-in from various leaders along the way.
Now, who will be responsible for what? Define those roles and assign specific outcomes to specific CX team 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 wait times for customers, then including a feedback loop with contact center leaders might be an important step in staying ahead of pain points for customers. Define the roles of the supporting stakeholders as well as the team members themselves where you can.
4. How Can We Prioritize CX efforts?
One of the goals of a CX Team is to provide guidance and governance around what efforts get prioritized and how. With a cross-functional team, there is natural friction that comes with leaders prioritizing their own team goals.
How can you prioritize customer experience efforts in a way that’s fair and aligned with your overall goals? Ideally, the CX Team will review critical CX measurements and insights on a regular basis.
This means they might review:
- Customer feedback data, like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Effort Scores (CES) at both the relational and transactional levels, as well as overseeing the way customers are asked for feedback
- Operational data, like product return rates, customer wait times, and even employee retention rates
- Recommendations from customer insight initiatives like customer journey mapping and service blueprinting programs
- Future-focused strategic initiatives requiring customer journey improvements or changes
- Identified issues requiring more nuanced and focused energy at the team or department level (like NPS Outer Loop issues)
The CX Charter can define the way things should be prioritized, including any limitations or agreements made. This often looks like a statement that is a reminder of the CX Success Statement. For example, it might state CX efforts will be prioritized based on prioritizing a goal of creating a more accessible experience for customers, aligned with specific budget or resource requirements.
This is also where measurement comes into play. How will success be measured and what outcomes will be rewarded? What are the consequences of not achieving those results? What does the Team need to do to set up customer experience efforts for success?
The outcome of a CX Team meeting could be seeking approval on the next set of priorities, or it could be following up on ongoing CX efforts already assigned and approved, or it could be both! There are a lot of ideas and responsibilities, which is why defining how to prioritize is so important.
5. Who Needs to Know What We’re Doing? Who Needs to Approve?
Leadership buy-in is a critical element in any customer experience program. That means keeping those stakeholders engaged in the process and communicating little victories along the way.
To get the most out of any customer experience program, new leaders need to be introduced to the overall customer experience strategy and support the goals around that. The best way to do that is to share both data and stories that connect emotionally with leaders.
These internal communications strategies are often neglected until they become necessary to “save” a program. Don’t wait for that! Be sure the team is communicating regularly about what insights have been uncovered, what actions are taking place, and what successful outcomes are happening as a result of these CX efforts.
How you communicate will be based on your organization, your culture and your communication options.
Some do this with a simple technique like adding a customer quote of the week to dashboards. Some provide robust communications programs that include things like a customer experience magazine delivered to leaders monthly.
Whatever works for your organization, consider these strategies early to build a cadence that builds trust and momentum for the actions of the CX Team.
- What does the internal communication strategy look like?
- Who is responsible for the communication strategy?
- What is the ongoing cadence of communication and what expectations should be set?
Consider what leaders need to know today – and what leaders may need to know tomorrow – about the efforts of the CX Team and those supporting these initiatives.
6. How Will This Team Work Together?
Including the basic logistics here helps everyone understand expectations and hold one another accountable.
As teams begin, they are often populated with employees who have volunteered or who have been “voluntold” to be a part of the team. There are often misunderstandings or miscommunications about how seriously these leaders should take their role on the team. As meetings are held, it becomes obvious when some leaders are regularly showing up and participating and others are showing up just when they want to and not willing to commit to actual next steps.
It’s also important to have someone – ideally a crackerjack project manager – help guide the meetings, follow up with attendees, and document activity and accountabilities. If a separate project manager is not available, then defining these things becomes even more important.
And since this is a regularly meeting team, it’s also a good idea to outline what expectations are between meetings. These types of things can seem like “common sense” but the very definition of common sense can vary from person to person, which is why it’s a good idea to commit to these logistics in a CX charter to document these agreements.
Simple questions to consider might include:
- How will leaders on this team show up for one another?
- How many times and how often will the team meet?
- What action steps are promised and how are those things communicated between meetings?
Deciding on logistics in advance can help set the right expectations and avoid misunderstandings later
Author: Jeannie Walters
Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience.
Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience… View full profile ›