You’re living the dream. You’re a high-flying CX manager, in charge of deploying a CX program in multiple countries, in multiple languages, and for several lines of business. Your vendor is first in its class and has produced an impeccable project plan. You’re working hand-in-hand with the vendor’s Professional Services team, blasting through critical paths and hitting every milestone. User Acceptance Testing goes off without a hitch and your eyes brim with tears of joy because no bugs have been found. You have “Eye of the Tiger” playing in your earbuds as you get ready to launch 250,000 surveys—SAFELY—to your customers.
A cacophony of sounds enters your mind - alas, it’s your alarm and you are reminded that this beautiful scenario is a dream.
The reality is most of the time CX projects take eons to get to their launchpads. Here’s a more accurate depiction: you are months into your contract and struggling to show value to your executives. Meetings with the vendor are going around in circles. You are managing an infinite number of workstreams and the project plan is constantly shifting. The timeline seems to stretch on exponentially with each project phase. Accomplishments are overshadowed by new business requirements that pop up along the way. You feel as though you’re in the midst of a storm, drinking from a firehose, grasping at straws, herding cats, you name it. You have bags under your eyes and your anxiety is at an all time high.
Let’s dig into how you can alleviate the pain from long timelines.
Create a CX Steering Committee
A CX Steering Committee should include champions from all stakeholder groups at your organization. The committee should meet once a month before, during, and after the launch of your CX program, ensuring that all departments have a vested interest in the program’s success. Be sure to establish measures of success comprising short term and long term goals and incorporate an ROI tracking program for visibility and accountability. (For more CX governance best practices, check out this Forbes article here.)
Get continuous executive buy-in
In addition to a CX Steering Committee, executive buy-in is essential, from contract signing to the pre-launch phase. (For deeper insights achieving executive buy-in, read this Alida Journal blogpost here and CMSWiRE article here.)
Build a relationship with IT
One of the biggest root causes of timeline delays is a lack of engagement with your IT team, from the initial sales process to the implementation itself. IT cannot be a surprise guest on your CX show.
- If a data integration or two are involved, you must become best friends with your IT team. As a CX manager, you have to identify the right IT team members in your organization and work hand-in-hand with them BEFORE you even go through the sales process with a vendor. Become an expert in your data systems, to fully understand what is possible.
- Like two peas in a pod, you and your IT team must be part of any initial scoping discussions with your vendor’s sales team. With your help, the vendor should be able to produce a descriptive data flow diagram that documents the entire end-to-end survey delivery process, before any contract is signed.
- You must be able to clearly state the use case for your data integrations. Why do you want to integrate these specific data sources with your vendor? Data integrations require a significant amount of effort, so you should ensure that they are the right fit for your project in the first place.
- Get in the IT queue. After properly scoping out the project, partner with the IT team to plan out the level of effort and time needed from them, so that they can fit you into their queue of work.
- Work with your IT team so that they agree to be dedicated resources to the project. Set their expectations by requesting at least 1-2 hours per week from key individuals, for the length of the project. They should be deeply familiar with the project plan and active participants in key activities, such as end-to-end testing.
Bring in your Marketing rockstars!
You’re going to need help from your Marketing team in two key areas: fulfill branding requirements and driving internal and external momentum. Be sure to work with them to collect logos and design key assets, such as those in the survey experience. More importantly, work with Marketing to create a PR campaign that includes press releases to get your internal teams and customers excited for the launch. Consider having a company-wide launch party with swag (if possible) to showcase the what, why and how of your new CX program!
Don’t forget about Legal and Compliance
Always check with Privacy and Security
In addition to Legal and Compliance, you need to connect with your Privacy and Security teams, to ensure that you are in compliance with company standards. For example, if you are planning on sending chat transcript data to your vendor, ensure that no PII is included.
Tap into your Enablement team
One commonly overlooked component is the enablement of your end users. Tap into your Enablement team to design a plan, create helpful resources such as playbooks, user guides, and/or training videos. Fit these efforts into your project plan.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, there is no secret sauce to shortening your CX project timeline. Instead, try…
- …engaging with your IT team earlier in the process, for example, during vendor selection, so that the project is scoped correctly and expectations are properly set.
- …creating a realistic, holistic timeline alongside key teams in your organization, to prevent surprises from happening along the way.
Building a CX program from scratch is not a once-and-done activity. It can be a long, lengthy process with immense rewards down the road. There are ways, however, to make the journey easier and that is through relationship-building in your very own organization.