Unforgettable is a customer experience education program, focused on delivering fresh content weekly to give business leaders what they need to succeed in a customer-driven, digitally-disrupted world. The program brings together the expert minds of Jay Baer, Shep Hyken, Jeanne Bliss, Ian Golding, and Blake Morgan to spotlight modern customer experience excellence. Get the latest content by bookmarking smartercx.com/unforgettable.
Of course we would all love an award, but in episode 25 of Unforgettable, Ian Golding, global customer experience specialist, explains why external recognition is actually crucial for moving customer experience initiatives forward. Equally important is building authority within your organization, because the more people want to get on board with your cause, the more you can share the importance of customer experience.
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Hi, this is Ian Golding, global customer experience specialist, bringing you episode 25 of Unforgettable, the series all about delivering great customer experiences.
Getting recognition and building authority as a customer experience professional are vitally important elements that can help an organization sustain its focus on customer experience. Let me start by expanding on what I mean by getting recognition. Very often when you are working hard on the inside of an organization to change the nature of the way the business works, you forget what a wonderful job you’re doing of achieving that aspiration. Winning awards and getting external recognition for some of the brilliant things you’re doing is a very powerful way of encouraging the whole organization to continue working hard to transform. From personal experience, I saw this in 2010 when my organization was fortunate enough to win a UK customer experience award for an initiative called “customer first aid”.
This was hugely important because when I created that initiative, I didn’t have a budget and I didn’t have much authority to do anything. But in winning the award, we were able to unlock both the budget and the authority that was required to move that initiative even further forward. So don’t fear getting external recognition; embrace getting the validation that you are doing the right things.
Getting recognition also helps you to drive authority for customer experience. Very often as a customer experience professional, we work within organizations who don’t really know what customer experience is, and so we need to be able to influence and inspire people to want to change the nature of the way they think and act. A number of years ago, I was taught very effectively by a man called Curtis Bingham, that all customer focused professionals should exert three different types of authority as they’re trying to drive transformational change.
The first type of authority is not one that many of us can leverage, that is what we call “positional authority”. In other words, the position we hold in the organization. Sadly, not many of us are fortunate enough to sit on the top table as a member of the C-Suite or the board of directors. That doesn’t mean we give up. It means that if we can’t leverage that positional authority, we need to move to the next type.
That type we call “borrowed authority”, in other words, whose authority can we borrow that does have the position? In many cases, we try to reach the most senior person in the organization, the CEO, but we should actually look for those with positional authority who have the charisma to influence their peers and influence the organization on your behalf. The problem with borrowed authority is that while it’s very effective, it is only effective for a short period of time because it doesn’t necessarily make you popular.
While you’re borrowing authority, it’s important to also focus on the third type, “earned authority”. You need to be earning authority so your position in the organization becomes irrelevant and people want to listen and learn from what you are sharing with the organization. Those who are obtaining professional qualifications in customer experience like CCXP, are using that as a way of earning authority. Education, learning about customer experience, going on courses, attending conferences, are all incredibly effective ways of earning that authority so you can ensure that you are able to have the greatest impact on influencing your organization to maintain their focus on customer experience.