Do you have what it takes to be a modern insights and customer experience leader?
By Elisa Adams, CEO of Sprout Strategy.
Over the last few years, the role of experience and insights professionals and the associated skills required, has evolved dramatically. Sprout Strategy’s new report, Australian State of Experience & Insights Leadership Report 2021 – 2022, looks at how these roles are evolving and what it means for these roles in the future.
The research with insights and experience leaders from some of Australia’s biggest brands revealed the need to expand on the concept of what it means to be a modern-day CX, marketing or customer insights professional. As senior leaders these professionals need to have a thorough understanding of the problems the business is facing and be able to communicate the benefits of understanding customer behaviour to solving those problems.
They also need to be ablet to justify their value to the business, the ROI of their programs, while juggling new roles and building new capabilities.
In the past, insights and customer experience professionals were primarily responsible for providing technical expertise and driving programs for the business. Their job mainly encompassed:
- providing methodical and sound research results
- providing timely data and insights to decision-makers
- measuring and reporting on CX and brand performance
- providing the business with the technical skills in research and customer feedback
These aspects are all still part of the roles these professionals play, but it is no longer the main goal of their work. Today, they also need to be a:
- Storyteller – to engage and excite the organisation about the customer
- Educator – to educate the business in understanding the customer and the market
- Networker – to build stakeholder confidence and ‘buy-in’
- Strategist – to build pathways from insights to actions
- Change agent – to improve brand, customer and employee experience
The storyteller – To engage and excite the business about the customer
Storytelling can bring customer experiences to life, connecting the business with the values and goals of its customers. It is about making an emotional connection that helps business leaders better understand the frustrations or problems faced by customers.
‘The storyteller’ is responsible for telling the customer’s story. Presenting facts, figures and statistics are important, but they do not persuade or compel people to act. Instead, storytelling should inspire action from the customers’ truths and link that story to the ‘so what’ for the business’s next steps.
The educator – To educate the business in understanding the customer and the market
The educator helps stakeholders and other areas of the business walk in the shoes of customers. Research participants described this as being “about presenting the business and how it operates through the eyes of customers”. It is up to the educator to ensure the business has the richest and most intimate knowledge of consumer and customer behaviour.
The networker – To catalyse stakeholder confidence and ‘buy-in’
Many people within an organisation, including executives and other areas of the business, will have a stake in the customer experience and insights programme. The networker partners with various stakeholders to ensure a strong, supportive link between the human experience and customer insights strategies and initiatives and those of each stakeholder
The strategist – To build pathways from insights to action
The role of the strategist is to convert the research findings and insights to actions and recommendations that drive the strategic agenda and direction of the business.
The change agent – To improve brand, customer and employee experience
Improving brand and customer experiences can entail making substantial changes to people, processes, products and service delivery. It can impact the core operating systems and infrastructure of an organisation.
In conjunction with ‘the networker’, ‘the change agent’ needs to create a strong sense of purpose as well as encouraging innovation and collaboration across the business. They need to overcome any resistance to change.
These roles suggest the following types of skills need to be developed – a bias to action, creative thinking, strong networking and communication skills as well as commercial aptitude. However, it is important not to forget the fundamentals – the technical skills and craft of solid, quality insights.
It’s a lot to fit into the range of roles performed by an entire team let alone the job of a single individual. It begs the question of who are the people who can fulfill these roles and where do we find them? What background and training do they require? How many of these roles and associated tasks can or should be performed by a single individual?
The time and resources required to build a strong team is a significant challenge. Leaders are looking to effectively build hybrid teams combining agency and client teams to fill the skills gaps and capacity shortages..
CX and insights leaders need to evolve if they are going to keep helping Australian organisations make solid and successful strategic decisions. There is plenty of opportunities for CX and insights teams to drive real value for the organisations they work for, they need the right skills and tools to enable them to do it.
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