The Water Cooler

Keys to a successful CX program: Building teams and engaging hearts

By Chris_Stallone posted 07-12-2016 03:39 PM


Steps you must take to build the enterprise alignment needed for transformation programs in general, and customer experience programs in particular.


As a speaker at a recent industry event, Medallia Experience, I shared insights gained while launching a customer experience (CX) initiative from the ground up across a global enterprise.  I emphasized the importance of creating the enterprise alignment needed to stand up a CX program and I outlined steps you need to take to make your program a success.CX Swiss Army Knife

Building a virtual team

There are certain skills required to make any large scale transformation successful. Assembling a virtual team brings together skills you need access to but do not necessarily need to possess yourself.

I’m not sure that any one person could embody such knowledge. For example, you need skills and knowledge covering:


  • The strategy of your organization as well as your source of differentiation and your competitive advantage to determine how the planned transformation fits.
  • Clarity around your go-to-market plans and your value proposition to identify synergies with the planned transformation.
  • Finance and analytics to establish a strong business case.
  • The formal and informal organizational culture and reward systems to gain an understanding of how to best influence.
  • Lean Six Sigma methodology to deal with the inevitable program complexity in a structured way.
  • Business Transformation experience to understand how to keep forward momentum and enthusiasm high throughout the hills and valleys of any long-term effort worth achieving.


When you line up access to these skills at the beginning of your project, you not only ensure access to a broad knowledge base, but also mitigate the risk of roadblocks down the road.

At the same time, you are enlisting the help of people throughout the company who will share in the creation of the program and, as vested virtual team members, will help advocate for its success.

Engage the hearts


With access to skills secured, you need to make what is commonly known as the “emotional case for change.” You can think of this as the rally cry that addresses the questions, “Why change? Why now? Why you?” The case for change must be strong enough incite people to overcome inertia and join a movement.

In non-profit organizations, engaging the hearts means connecting people to an altruistic mission, such as fighting hunger or homelessness.

In public companies, we engage hearts by connecting to the need to grow, to keep pace with changing customer needs, and to compete effectively against new, and disruptive, competitors.

At CA, we are rallying around guiding our customers through a successful digital transformation. We have created a public facing customer promise that at its core has redefined our success by our customers’ success:

“Our promise: To consistently deliver a superior experience by putting your organization at the center of all we do. The ultimate measure of our success is through your success and earning your trust as a strategic partner.”

Putting the “emotion” into the “emotional case for change” requires team members throughout the company to develop deep empathy for customers. One technique we use to help evangelize the “voice of the customer” is to share customer quotes, success stories and Net Promoter System (NPS) results prominently.

Team members see them on our intranet and in global presentations and team meetings. Plus, we give everyone in the company access to our customer survey data and quotes. Negative customer experiences and quotes highlight the need for change while positive experiences demonstrate progress and increase organizational resolve.

Another technique for developing empathy involves giving non-customer-facing employees opportunities to interact with customers. We have done this at CA through a series of Customer Engagement Programs where all employees throughout the company, no matter what department, can volunteer to check in with customers and see how we can improve the experience we deliver.

There is nothing that creates empathy better than direct one-to-one customer interaction. Negative interactions help make the case for change while positive interactions are a source of pride; experiencing each is equally important.

There are “pockets of brilliance” to be found throughout every organization. Tapping into them and showing what is already happening is a great way to inspire hope for the future and commitment to change from everyone.

This blog is the first in a series that will continue with more keys to success for establishing a CX program. If you can’t wait, watch this video of my session at Experience 2016, a CX conference from Medallia, who kindly made this link public for my readers.

Creating Executive Alignment: Keys to Success from the Medallia Experience conference.

Let me know what you think.