In my most recent post, I mentioned that executive-level support and a governance program approach are essential elements of success in in your Customer Communications Management (CCM) Program. Although this seems obvious, the point is that a top-down-driven CCM program with strong and active executive-level support and sponsorship has a much higher likelihood of succeeding than CCM programs driven from the bottom or middle upward. Evidence comes from multiple consulting engagements Doculabs has conducted, where we assessed not just the ability to secure initial funding and approval to launch a CCM program, but also the ability for the enterprise to sustain the program and funding over a period of 3-plus years.
Why do the bottom-up efforts succeed less often?
First off, we define “success” as the ability for the CCM program to launch and sustain a transformational change in customer experience and communications. The sustainability of the program is what inhibits the long-term success. Bottom-up efforts tend to focus (appropriately so) on near-term cost reductions, internal efficiencies, and cost take-outs. Without executive support, there’s far less business alignment and partnership, which in turn leads to a less clearly defined vision and objectives for transforming the customer experience. With proper planning, a bottom-up effort can probably meet its cost take-out and efficiency objectives, but customer experience objectives wind up taking a back seat. Additionally, given the competition for investment dollars within the enterprise, momentum tends to fade once those initial quick wins have been achieved.
The customer-centric approach requires an executive mandate!
If you’re looking to put a stake in the ground regarding an improved customer experience and your CCM program is a major component of this, then the executive mandate and sustained executive support are essential. The top-down support will help you align business, IT, and operations areas, thus reducing the time and effort the program team needs to spend on getting the organization aligned behind the effort. Perhaps most important, though, is the support for capital allocation. If your firm struggles (like many) to quantify the benefits of an improved customer experience, then the top-down support or mandate becomes an important element of the business case, supplementing the quantifiable benefits with soft benefits on behalf of the customer.
And then there’s the governance aspect….
Once you’ve aligned the key business areas and other participants, a governance or oversight group should be established. In addition to the traditional role the governance group plays regarding program accountability, they should act as advocates within the enterprise, helping to communicate your message internally and aligning the required resources from within their respective departments. Just who leads your governance team is dependent on the primary objectives of your CCM program. If the primary driver is focused on customer experience, then a business leader from Marketing or the area charged with leading the customer experience transformation is an appropriate candidate. If your main objective is process efficiency and cost reduction, then it makes sense for the leader to come from IT or an operations department.
Most folks know what the governance team expects from the CCM program, in terms of reporting on results and achievement of objectives. Make sure you also establish the expectations that the CCM program has for the governance team. Perhaps consider delegating up; the most successful CCM programs are able to establish a mutually beneficial, bi-directional relationship with the governance team. The program should align with the governance team on items such as internal advocacy for the CCM program, helping with alignment of resources and allocation of funding, breaking down barriers, and mitigating disputes, as needed.