How to build a great customer experience team

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The Customer Experience (CX) function has become a heightened focus for organizations as they seek a deeper meaning for their brand and the ability to delight customers. It’s not just about products anymore; it’s also about the journey the customer experiences while interacting with the company that may make the difference between success and failure. 

At Anaplan, we aim to reduce friction at every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle, and for this, you need a team willing to eliminate pain points, drive change, and speak in one voice on behalf of the customer. It’s these principles, along with a number of unique skills, that compose a leading CX team.

I want to share what I looked for in order to build a leading CX team over the last 18 months:

The top three skills to look for when building your CX team

A multitude of verbs are often included in CX resumes, but there are a few critical skills that set candidates apart:

  1. Diplomatic

    Diplomatic is a word we all use. I believe this skill is about interpersonal harmony and balancing energy. Most of the CX role is devising plans to get the organization to change based on the customer’s point of view, so balancing energy in meetings and getting people to explore others’ ideas is a key skill. 

    You can be a great problem solver and assertive, but if you can’t manage the energy, you aren’t going to get enough done. Someone with key skills in service design who’s very diplomatic will help the organization move to action.

  2. Accountable

    Accountability is the difference between sustained success and ultimate failure. We look for someone who is self-motivated—you can see by how they approach challenges just how accountable they are. If something is not going according to plan, do they go into problem-solving mode and identify the steps needed to achieve greatness? This is critical because CX organizations are often at the front lines of change.

  3. Empathetic

    One of the skills we teach across Anaplan is empathy. We are all hard-wired with it, but how do we use it? This seems like an obvious and necessary skill, but we don’t always test for it in interviews. One way you can evaluate for this is to build questions into a project brief during the interview process and have everyone disagree with their idea. Look for empathetic responses from the candidate like “Yes, and” instead of “No.” 

    Another way might be to ask them to write a response to an issue or a concern from a customer and see how empathetic it is. Although we don’t provide direct customer service, we look to see how open and empathetic candidates are with this approach.

What about experience?

When it comes to experience, we look for people who have one or more of the following:

  • Experience developing and rolling out global processes, customer programs, or initiatives
  • User experience background with a focus on service design, to bring human-centered design methodologies and validated innovation processes to the team
  • Four-to-eight years of experience in management consulting or strategy so they can provide structure and planning expertise
  • Previous positions in SaaS or hyper-growth companies, given that these people tend to have the resilience and ability to thrive in a changing, fast-paced environment such as ours at Anaplan
  • An understanding and appreciation of customer success
  • Demonstrated success in working with leadership and building relationships across the organization
  • Project management background to ensure that projects stay on track and have the appropriate success measures

In all of the hires I make, I look for strong interpersonal skills and excellent written and verbal communication skills. This is important, given the influence that they will have in the organization and the fact that they will be required to create high-quality content.

As we continue to grow and develop larger CX programs, putting the best and brightest to work cross-functionally to solve unique challenges is a hard job requiring unique skillsets. It is also an opportunity for your team to contribute so much meaning to the organization—not only in their execution, but also in the influence and the support they can provide to the company and brand.

I challenge CX organizations to hire outside of the normal profile and look at the above criteria as a litmus test for how much change and influence your teams can orchestrate within your organization.

For more tips to improving your customer experience, see Anaplan’s previous article: How to create a “Customer First” culture in your organization.

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