What is the key characteristic for a Customer Experience leader?

Passion

Who should we select to lead our customer experience efforts? What kind of people should we select when we enlarge the team? I have heard these questions several times recently. Perhaps, some time ago, it would have taken me a while to think of all the important skills and traits needed for the job, but now the answer is so clear in my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, we gathered a few former clients together to tell their success stories and share how they went on the journey of improving the customer experience. Amongst them featured a hospital system from the USA, an insurance company from Switzerland, a leading telecom from Turkey and a fit-out Construction company from United Kingdom. Amongst the attendees were a Telecom company from Saudi Arabia and a retail company from Russia. As you can imagine it was quite a diverse cultural mix. Yet one thing was common in the stories of all these people and organisations. They all mentioned “passion”.

It turned out this is the number one ingredient to make the customer experience efforts successful. The reason is customer experience people have to lead a war on two fronts: one is an internal battle for a culture change and one is external, where they need to go out and actually do something for the customers. There will be a lot of setbacks on the road (and even tears for some) but the people with passion never give up. That’s because they are not just doing a job, they are doing what they believe in. And to start the cultural change and enlist others into what they believe, they need to constantly repeat what they believe in. It takes patience and persistence. “Brick by brick my citizens” as the Roman Emperor Hadrian once said.

People with passion are also usually enthusiastic, energetic and positive about the future. That’s also very important as they need to feed that enthusiasm and energy into their team. It takes a lot of long nights but also a lot of risk taking. To change the experience you need to try new things. And “try” here is the key word, if one thing fails try something else. If all the above said sounds frightening you have to know also that the reward is worthy enough. The people we spoke to, now leading customer experience programmes at their organisations have come from different backgrounds, some were sales people, others with marketing backgrounds but neither of them could imagine going back to what they did before. Now they had a real opportunity to let their passion loose and create a better experience both for their fellow colleagues and for their customers.

Zhecho Dobrev is a consultant and project manager for Beyond Philosophy. He has worked with a wide array of large corporate companies. Zhecho’s expertise includes customer behaviour analytics, customer loyalty, complaints management and journey mapping. He holds an MBA and Master’s degree in International Relations.

Zhecho Dobrev on Twitter @Zhecho_BeyondP