There’s no one way to build a customer experience (CX) team, no single structure that is the perfect model for every organization. Despite that, I get a lot of inquiry and guidance session requests from CX leaders who are trying to baseline their ambitions against their peers as they establish, fund, and scale the CX function at their firm. Forrester’s Q2 2019 Global State Of Customer Experience Programs Online Survey found that, among other things, a majority of respondents were part of small teams (anywhere from one to 10 people), had CX vision, strategy, and measurement in their purview, and planned to boost their team’s analytics capabilities in the coming year.

We’re refreshing that research over the next couple of months, and, while we wait for those results, I’m happy to share some of my top tips for CX leaders staffing up the CX function at their organization:

  • Choose whether to “build” or “buy” some (or all) of your talent. Consider which will be the higher hill for a new team member to climb: learning about your brand and industry or learning the CX skills specific to their role (e.g., journey mapping). For example, you’re better off “building” the talent if the organization requires highly specialized expertise to understand its operating model or has a corporate culture that doesn’t quickly accept newcomers. This process involves developing and promoting colleagues who’ve already shown an aptitude for CX, such as members of your CX champions program. On the other hand, if your organization values subject matter expertise more than industry-specific knowledge, look outside your firm for seasoned talent with a history of the CX skills you require.
  • Look for the three other C’s of CX: curiosity, courage, and communication. In my experience, the most successful CX pros are endlessly curious. They ask questions, and they seek to understand not just how a thing works, but also why it works that way — and even why it exists at all. They also have the courage to stand up for new and potentially unpopular ideas. Whether arguing for additional project funding or negotiating priorities between teams with competing interests, CX pros must be ready to lead and influence others in situations where improving CX isn’t top of mind for everyone else in the room. And they’re excellent communicators, able to translate the organization’s many department-specific languages and that of its customers, socializing and evangelizing for improved CX with colleagues at all levels of the org.
  • Design your org chart to support your CX strategy (not vice versa). Use your organization’s CX strategy and roadmap to identify the roles based on the work the team needs to accomplish. While looking at other companies’ CX team org charts is informative and inspirational, it can also be a misleading exercise — particularly if the scope of responsibilities doesn’t match up across the organizations. Once you’ve got your roles in mind, write compelling job postings that transparently describe your organization’s CX maturity and how each role will contribute to CX success. With the Forrester Decisions for Customer Experience service, clients can leverage the CX pro job description template or — if building a team from the ground up — the more role-specific templates for the chief experience officer and vice president of customer experience.

I’ll be sharing an update to our CX team’s research at CX EMEA 2022, and I hope many of you will join me in London (or virtually!), June 22–23, to hear all about it. The results from our refreshed study will help you assess where your team is relative to its peers from a variety of angles, including: team size, skills, technologies, budget, and primary responsibilities. Forrester clients: If you have questions in the meantime, please click here to request an inquiry or guidance session.