How Engaging, Aligning and Empowering across the Organization Can Be Most Effective

Recently in an interview for the CX Leader Podcast, VP of Customer Experience (CX) Digital Lifecyle Journeys Steve Cox and I had the opportunity to reflect on our CX journey at Cisco.

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do at Cisco, and creating an organizational culture to engage, align and empower employees is particularly critical to delivering the best customer experiences.  I hope our discussion will shed some light on a few approaches to driving effective customer experiences.

Break down silos

At its core, CX is about reducing friction and simplifying processes for customers. But silos—whether spanning an entire organization or individual teams—get in the way of making good customer experiences possible.

Silos aren’t built intentionally: they emerge organically over time. For example, they can come about when the customer’s experience is driven by a variety of different teams, agendas and goals. Silos create obstacles to visibility, keeping one part of the organization from knowing or understanding what the other part is doing. As a result, the customer’s journey is marred by friction, disconnects, and disruptions.

The solution to these silo-driven events is to focus on one singular motion that optimizes the way customers move forward. That’s easier said than done: it’s extremely difficult to identify what the best pathway is, and the pathway is different for every customer.

That’s why intentional listening is important: customer feedback provides a starting point for defining the best strategy. Over time, as listening continues to drive the right actions, your CX strategy will become more robust and more closely aligned with each customer’s needs and preferences.

Execution, execution, execution

With CX, the weakest link often lies in execution—not strategy. When you are working to bring together the entire end-to-end customer success motion as a team, there are two key execution elements to keep in mind.

The first is that CX is all about people. As long as you have clearly defined roles in your CX organization and a central place where people can access playbooks, go-to-market guidelines and other operational content—you can start to drive a single motion across the organization. We call this content our blueprint, but other companies call it their organization model. No matter what you call it, defining your methodologies and roles is essential to getting everyone in synch.

The second part is about process. To make processes stick, our organization uses a technology console. This single interface forces all teams to work in lockstep, no matter where they may be located globally. In this way, the console helps define our working methodology, allowing us to deliver a more cohesive strategy. And when that happens, everything else falls into place much easier.

Align your stakeholders

It’s critical to spend time communicating with executive leaders and other stakeholders about the promise of CX and the problems that it solves. The light turns on for many of them when we share CX growth, retention, and simplification stories.

When talking with sales leaders, we speak to how higher Net Promoter Score (NPS) scores lead not only to retention but also to new growth opportunities. And when we talk with engineering, it is empowering for them to know, based on our customer listening, where to invest R&D and where their focus is needed most.

The bottom line is, when you sit down with stakeholders, if you ask the right questions, you’ll likely bring out the answers that will help bridge any divides that may exist.

Get everyone on board

For CX to be effective, every single person in the company must own it along with the changes it will require them to make. There are three areas to emphasize.

One is making sure everyone is in agreement around what success looks like for the customer. This helps define your CX strategy and what you want to accomplish as a company. When stakeholders agree on the outcome and the success metrics you are striving for, then you have an anchor to build out your blueprint.

The second part is creating a vision for bringing CX to life for your employees, which can be accomplished through storytelling using videos and other thought leadership content that helps people relate to your work.

The third way to get people excited is by using the power of CX as an industry and a discipline for personal career growth. It opens up doors and launches new career trajectories.

This year has proven that digital strength is a lever for business success. A big part of what Steve’s team is doing is breaking down silos by serving as a powerful digital accelerator for Cisco, our partners, and our customers.

This year has also proven that inclusion & collaboration (I&C) matter. Without diverse employees, a company cannot fully understand its customers and will therefore fall short of its goals. We are moving toward further enriching I&C at Cisco through several far-reaching initiatives.

It’s also important to recognize that there is no perfect CX or customer success motion. As your strategy evolves based on ongoing customer feedback, you’ll inch closer and closer to perfection.

There was so much more to our conversation with podcast host and CX guru Steve Walker. Listen to our discussion to learn more about how effective CX can create customers for life.


Thimaya Subaiya

Executive Vice President