Communicate Like an Executive
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Explain how to get buy-in from C-Suite executives.
- Describe how to express yourself in executive presentations.
- Use the voice of the customer to further your agenda.
How you communicate affects how successful you are. Whether you're trying to explain a problem to service agents or get executives to invest in your department, your ability to communicate effectively will define you as a successful leader.
Getting the support of everyone in the C-Suite is critical. Without broad support, you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to get the cooperation and the budget you need to make your initiatives a success.
One of the greatest challenges you face as the new contact center leader is getting everyone to agree. Consider it more an art than science. The good news is there are some tactics you can employ to position you and your team for success when trying to get cross-functional buy-in. Start by walking the halls and talking to people. This is what executives do when they want to get people on board before making a pitch to their to the other leaders in the C-suite.
Here’s a list of things you can do when walking the halls:
- Learn concerns and challenges
- Work on simplifying your message
- Determine who is an advocate and who is a detractor
- Share contact center data (nobody likes to be surprised with negative numbers in meetings)
If, after walking the halls, you discover that your idea is generating a lot of pushback, you might want to take it off the agenda for a while until you can resolve some of the concerns raised. You never want to get into a battle between two executive leaders while presenting. Wait until you’re sure there will be no surprises.
Let’s talk about executive communication. What’s the expectation around presentation style in the C-Suite? It’s direct, informed, and aware (of the mood in the room). To get it right, you have understand what leaders need to know and how to communicate that effectively.
You’re the leader of the contact center — capitalize on all that rich data and customer information you have at your fingertips. Avoid putting a whole spreadsheet on a slide and expecting your audience to do the math. What's really important is that you have clear, simple slides that show what's going on. Depending on your company’s culture, you may want to leave the extra images and animations out of the presentation. Just state simply and clearly, “this is the problem, this is the solution.” Come out and say whatever the data is trying to tell you.
In general, when you're talking to most senior executives, you don't need a 30-minute presentation. You really want to focus on your business outcomes. Paint a picture based on metrics and turn it into a compelling story. When you’re presenting, start off with a short story that connects to the message you want to deliver. The story should exemplify what you're trying to do and what you're trying to sell. Get their attention and then point to the data to backup your assertions.
You may be used to speaking to people who have the same operational background as you, people who understand the details and the nuances of the contact center. Now that you’re in the C-Suite, you’ll likely have to explain those details to people at a senior level whose expertise is in another area. So be sure to pause long enough during your presentation to make sure they’re following you.
The voice of the customer is such an important part of generating your story when talking to the senior team. The data sets the stage for your presentation and makes it relevant to the C-Suite. Customer information allows the organization to understand what your customers truly say, want, and need.
One of the things about voice of the customer is that it's not always about the quantitative. It's really about the qualitative. The exact number of calls and complaints is interesting, but it's just a statistic. You want to be able to translate the qualitative components of it. What did the customer say exactly? When a customer complains, what do they complain about? What are those customer pain points that are driving them to have certain reactions? Being able to explain those insights makes it real to senior leadership.
As you talk about the voice of the customer, think about how you take that information and sort it by customer segment. You can segment high-value customers, leading value customers, potential high-value customers, and low-value customers. If you’re creating customer segmentations, not only do you create better business cases but you can then use that information and give the leadership team insights that they generally don't have. With segmentation, you’ll be able to answer questions like, how does a high-value person interact with us? Do they interact across multi-channels? Sometimes customers who interact with your company on multiple channels across web, mobile, phone, and in the store are more valuable but you need segmentation to uncover that insight.
Engaging successfully with other leaders comes down to communication skills. Build personal relationships, sharpen your presentation skills, and use the voice of the customer to get your point across. When you can do these things, you’ll more easily establish and maintain credibility in the C-Suite.