Here’s the million dollar question: How do you create a successful and cohesive customer-focused team? To make that task even more challenging, no two roles in your team will have the same function. One role will be focused on mapping out a successful customer experience, another on delivering exceptional customer service, and yet another on strategizing how to retain more customers for longer– and the list goes on from there.
Sound impossible? That’s why it’s the million dollar question.
Although building a CX team from the ground up can be daunting, especially when you’re blending a band of team members with disparate skill sets and job focuses, it’s not impossible.
To that end, we reached out to three customer experience experts to get their take on how to build a winning CX team. Below, we’ll share insights from Tina Cleary, Head of CRM & Loyalty at OFX, Phil Walters, Head of User Experience at MYOB, and Nina Jung, Chief Marketing Officer at MadeComfy.
Let’s get started.
Streamline the Working Relationship Within Your Integrated Digital Team
“It’s critical as a global marketing team working within a dynamic category that we are organised and structured in our approach,” says Tina Cleary, who heads up customer relationship management at Australian online foreign exchange and payments company OFX. “Planning is absolutely critical– Having a baseline plan we can work to, but whilst having the ability to deal with the unexpected.”
For Cleary, the secret to working well with your team lies in being agile. “To ensure we are working on the right things and can deal with unexpected events, we use a group chat platform to flag anything that we might need to pivot towards, and we have a daily stand up to ensure we don’t miss a beat and can prioritise accordingly.
“Using tools which enable us to publish and collaborate on our plan cross functionally and across geographies is fundamental, quality inputs come from across the globe, and in particular from functions that talk to our customers every day.
“We have great emphasis on test and learn, building out a virtual spot where the teams can input ideas for test – our ‘hypothesis matrix’.”
Team building is the key to success for Phil Walters and the team of designers and delivery at MYOB. “We do a few formal and informal things as a design team to build this sense of team.
Walters elaborates, “We hold formal critiques which everyone attends once a week in small groups (groups of up to 6 that rotate). Smaller groups create a more intimate and personal setting so that people feel comfortable providing stronger critiques and feedback. This also gives exposure to other parts of the business – what people are working on, what challenges they’re facing, and it helps raise the overall quality of work. If someone is struggling with a specific job, we have a very collaborative environment and will often hold an informal critique and brainstorming session.This allows the entire design team to contribute.”
“We hold an hour and a half session every week which is a location specific “skills endurance session”. Each staff member is on a roster, and they take turns running a session. This allows the design team to come together and get creative inspiration, and have a design centric conversation. By having each member of the team leading a session, everyone can be a learner and an expert of something. It builds a learning culture, sense of team, and gives junior staff members an opportunity to run point.”
For CMO Nina Jung, sprint methodology plays an important role in streamlining the CX team at MadeComfy. “I have been using sprint methodology in marketing for a few years now which helps team in planning, resource allocation, troubleshooting. In earlier stage start up, priorities change all the time so we often need to put in, pull out tasks during the sprint but I still very much try to go by our initial plans.
“Some of the tools I have used and still use to help manage tasks are Asana and Trello.
Mesh Different Work Styles and Personalities
For Jung, the process begins during the initial interview, if possible. “When I bring a new team member on board, personality and cultural fit are two of the main elements I look at. This is a way to minimise friction between team members and also to endorse supportive work environment.
“However we are not always in a situation to hire whom we want to work with. In general, my view is that the earlier you form rapport with people whom you need to work closely with, the quicker you adapt to personalities and the lesser chance you have frictions. Things I have seen working well in getting to know people in more natural ways were blind lunches with random team members or joining the company sporting team.”
The same is true for Walters who adds, “We’ve tripled in size during the time that I’ve been here at MYOB. When hiring, I look for people who are keen to grow and develop. Part of this is further developing their communication skills.
“We as a business have a focus on communicating what our strategic activities are internally. When new staff join, we give them the language tools they need to speak to the accounting space and immerse them in the culture.”
At OFX, there’s an emphasis on face to face communication and collaboration. Cleary shares, “We have a flat structure and collaboration is celebrated as part of our everyday working style– two of our corporate values that talk to this are ‘always keep learning’ and ‘we’re better together’. We tend to have face to face conversations, where possible, over email, which is a key driver in building successful working partnerships.”
Develop Efficient Communication Within an CX Team
Walters shares, “The way designers used to work was around creating polished designs, cajoling and massaging a design through production to get it out the door. We work by taking everyone on a journey together. This isn’t just the responsibility of the designers, it’s the product team, the engineers, etc. We all come to a solution together. This is a culture shift that I’ve seen in the industry and also here at MYOB.
“Here at MYOB, clients are our #1 core value and collaboration is #2, which allows us to have a culture where everyone is pushing together in the same direction.”
Internal communication always impacts your customer’s experience.
“A key success has been not viewing customer experience in a silo,” shares Cleary. “The customer experience journey is cross functional and our approach at OFX reflects that. Given we have thousands of interactions with our customers across a range of touchpoints, having a feedback loop to ensure that all team members can communicate and co-ordinate is key. An example of where we have done this is giving visibility of our customer reviews across CX teams, and providing all teams with the ability to reach out to customers, where appropriate.
Involving the broader teams early– rapid strategy sessions ensure we get inputs from across the business, when we are dealing with a complex customer journey we need to pull on the knowledge we have across teams, and from previous roles and brands.”
While no one likes to fail, failures can provide a rich learning opportunity. Jung shares, “In my past role, we often did special promotions such as discount voucher giveaways and everyone in the company had to prepare to deal with a surge of orders and customer inquiry.
“When orders increased in large scale, often technical errors followed which then had to be dealt quickly with alternative processes. This required efficient internal communication between customer service, marketing and tech. The first couple of promotions were a huge learning curve for everyone however we learned quickly and prepared well for the following events to minimise a negative customer experience.”
Run a Collaborative Team
For Cleary, it boils down to two things: Communication and contribution. “We are a small team and our focus on getting ‘stuff’ done means we need to create a culture which is less hierarchical but more about delivery.”
Cleary defines communication as “ensuring we are all clear on the objectives we are trying to achieve with a framework, and preparedness.” She defines contribution as “a time to reflect with a focus on what we have delivered, what’s worked, and also what’s not – it’s key to motivating the teams to have this open daily dialogue.”
Walters believes that senior staff must set expectations and pitch in to create a culture that values collaboration. “It’s also important for team members to have the right mindset for delivering results for their clients together,” he adds.
“Creating a supportive work environment is the key,” Jung shares. “Having the stand up meeting as a part of sprint really helped me creating that environment organically. It gave opportunity for team members to share their plan and challenges and anyone with a similar experience could share their learnings and/or jumped into help. This really reduced repetition of making the same mistakes across the team.”