Top Down or Bottom Up?

What’s the best approach for executing an effective CX strategy?

Is having the CEO’s endorsement the only way to successfully execute a CX strategy in your organization?  Can you implement an effective CX strategy on your own within your own department or function? There are plenty of opinions among CX experts in response to these two questions.  Let’s explore each approach.  

There’s no question that having the CEO’s endorsement and that of your senior leadership team in a top down approach is important to the success of any CX initiative.  This endorsement:   

·       Prioritizes the CX strategy across the organization.

·       Helps secure both financial and human resource investments.

·       Keeps the strategy front and center in discussions among senior leaders.

·       Creates an accountability for ensuring each department is focused on executing the CX strategy.

·       Incorporates achievement of the CX transformation into annual corporate goals and objectives.

Despite these compelling reasons, not having this executive endorsement isn’t necessarily a showstopper for executing an effective CX strategy.  In fact, I’ve seen leaders with a passion for improving their organization’s CX start initiatives within their own organizations and realize demonstrable results.  How did they accomplish CX success without executive endorsement?  These leaders accomplished their success through having:

·       Passion for the customer’s experience with the organization’s products and services

·       Recognizing their own department needed to improve

·       Identifying issues that could be addressed within their own accountability

·       Engaging their teams throughout the process to ensure transparence and alignment.

·       Pursuing improvements by collaborating with leaders of other departments

·       Establishing specific metrics to measure their success

·       Celebrating quick wins to gain momentum and demonstrate success to executive leadership.

This “bottom-up” approach can work if these and other strategies are employed by passionate leaders committed to a better customer experience. 

Is one approach better than the other? Having a bottom up approach can be equally as effective as a top down approach because it provides demonstrated success to skeptical executives or department heads.  Instead of projecting the possible payback of CX investments as in a top down approach, a bottom up approach often has real data about real achievements. 

If you’re going to pursue a bottom up approach to implementing a CX transformation, keep these things in mind:

·       Start!  Don’t lament a lack of executive sponsorship. Get going! 

·       Engage!  Ask your employees what needs to be changed and engage them in the process

·       Listen!  Talk to customers.  Analyze calls.  Review Orders.  Understand the friction points.

·       Act! Find processes or procedures that you can improve quickly. 

·       Celebrate! Strive for early wins to demonstrate the strategy is working. 

·       Share!  With the wind at your back, use what you’ve learned to share with other leaders!

Now, you’re ready to demonstrate to other leaders why your efforts need to be an organization-wide focus on improving the customer experience! 


Robert Azman