With a lack of CX knowledge, board members will be unable to embrace the next wave of business that is the digitized, experience-led economy. Along the way, will come misguided investments and a push for solutions based on misinformed knowledge of customers.
Stanley H. Huang is the chief technology officer (CTO) and co-founder at Moxo (formerly Moxtra), a US company that provides client interaction software through automation. He is seasoned technical visionary with decades of experience in collaboration industry. At Moxo, Stanley H. Huang manages the entire product lifecycle from business alignment to service delivery, as well as development, data center operations, and more.
Q: Traditionally, CX roles and responsibilities have been designated to front-line managers, but with a rapid shift to a highly digitized economy, are we beginning to see a change in how companies approach CX from a leadership perspective?
Stanley H. Huang: A rapid shift to a highly digitized economy presents both an emerging CX opportunity and challenge: that is, the shift to on-demand business modeling, which places customers at the center of the business, rather than its peripheries. In this model, customers are the initiator for requesting the service, and employees – equipped with the right tools and technology – have the ability to respond to requests in a more than timely manner.
This is the biggest and most recent change the digitized economy has brung to business, and deserves leadership attention and involvement to respond.
For organizations that have already made the shift to customer-centric, on-demand business modeling, then continuous monitoring and fine-tuning of the CX strategy is critical for reducing any bottlenecks and accelerating business growth. Overall, your CX is your business.
Q: In a similar vein, what qualities should leaders keep in mind when adopting CX as a leadership skill?
Stanley H. Huang: Three qualities come to mind when thinking about strong CX leadership. The first is having a deep understanding of your product and service capabilities. A strong leader will always have an in-depth understanding of their product and service and can anticipate a customer’s questions, as well future areas for improvement.
The second quality shifts from having knowledge of the product, to having knowledge of the customer. Exceptional CX leaders will have knowledge of their customers down to the finest detail. This includes their daily usage, the main use-case for the product or service, the context by which they deploy or use the product and their overall lifecycle for the product’s use.
A final quality that comes to mind is to be able to synthesize this knowledge, categorize it and translate it into actionable takeaways that align with the business strategy. When these three qualities come together, what you’ll usually get is a CX leader who is very passionate, proactive and that can communicate their value at the operational level, up to strategic management.
Q: Can organizations today enhance their customer experiences through technology investment alone (such as CRMs or other customer portals), or is it more about a shift in culture, initiated by top-down leadership?
Stanley H. Huang: Technology is only one piece of the puzzle. At the end of the day, you need top-down leadership and strategic planning to seed CX into the heart of your organization. But what starts at the top will require effort on behalf of all departments to recognize experience-minded leaders and to ensure CX is cross-functional and not siloed from various departments.
Once these organizational pillars are in place, then leaders can look to technology investment to usher into the operational phase. After the plan has been defined and all departments are aligned, select the corresponding technology vendor to close the missing link in your day-to-day operations.
Today, every company has access to technology to offer a better customer experience, but how you organize and mobilize your company internally will make all the difference in providing an exceptional CX that is seeded within every element of the business.
Q: What challenges do organizations face or run into when it comes to prioritizing the customer experience? How can they overcome these challenges?
Stanley H. Huang: Organizations will run into challenges at two levels: the strategic and operational levels. At the strategy level, businesses will have to deal with the customer’s impact – that is the uncertainty of how customers will respond to your CX, which is an inherent risk that leaders must navigate.
To overcome this strategic challenge, it’s essential to maintain a high-level overview of how the digitized economy wave is changing your business landscape. Like it or not, business has already changed and will continue to; however, it presents an opportunity to either resist or ride this wave towards its destination.
When challenges arise, it’s best to examine other peer companies in your industry. What mistakes did they make along the way? What did they do that was successful? The answer to these questions will provide you with a broader perspective for navigating these challenges, and allow for out-of-the-box thinking to address customer needs.
At the operational level, tremendous effort is needed in all aspects from processes to culture, from KPIs to team structure. To overcome such a challenge, you need a multi-dimensional plan that aligns all departments on business modeling, upgrades, product service enhancements, workflow processes, etc. In addition to this alignment plan, it’s best to leverage new technology that can smooth over any lapses in communication and ensure your team is aligned on the bigger picture. This will increase teams’ internal agility; when teams become more agile, it creates a smoother CX for customers across all aspects of the business.
Q: How can CX be approached at the boardroom level? Should CX be an active role in boardroom meetings?
Stanley H. Huang: The risks of ignoring CX can be significant to the business’s performance, but the opportunities that arise from embracing it can be tremendous. But if the Board of Directors has very little knowledge of CX or are not actively involved in CX initiatives, then how could a company say it’s customer experience-driven?
To ensure that CX is seeded throughout every element of the business, board members need to have an active role in CX planning. This ensures that the voice of the customer is being included into strategic planning by the company at the highest levels, drives an experience-minded culture from the top down and demonstrates an understanding of CX more broadly.
Just because board members aren’t near the front lines of the business, it should never excuse them from demonstrating an in-depth understanding of customers. At the end of the day, the board is accountable to their customers, as well as the company’s ability to provide value to them.
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