I love the mountains. I love the feeling of freedom and to be on top of the world. The way you connect with nature, friends, family and yourself is unique.

Interestingly enough, as a CX champion, I feel in a similar way. It’s an exciting area of work. You work with the top leaders in the organisation and advocate for genuine transformation. To witness an entire behemoth of an organisation steer to get closer to its customers makes you feel like you are on top of the world. But if you don’t have your feet firmly planted on the ground, you can get dizzy from the elevation.

There were too many similarities that you just can’t ignore. That’s why I compiled 3 main rules of hiking that you can transfer to managing customer experience.

Lead with conviction, no excuses

When guiding a group in the mountain, you want to make sure you always walk ahead and keep a suitable pace for the entire group. Very often, you find yourself on an unknown route or an untrodden path, and you have to rely solely on your preliminary preparation and sense of orientation.

Being a CX manager requires exactly the same qualities. You must show your entire organisation the way.

Sometimes you don’t know the best route, but take the one that is the closest. Stop every now and then and check on your “compass” to make sure you are still headed in the right direction.

Progress can be slower than you would wish. Just make sure you keep going – one step after the other to reach your goal – put the customer in the heart of everything you do. Sometimes it’s better to take things at a slower pace, but make sure your main stakeholders can keep up with you. Reaching the end goal slower is always better than losing key team members on the way.

Don’t just lead, but educate

People don’t just go hiking with you to show them the way. They expect to learn something new about the place that you will be visiting. It may be something curious about the local flora, fauna or old lore and legends. But often it can be something very practical, like how to use walking sticks properly, what is the best equipment or how to tie a shoe knot that never gets untied.

As a CX manager, you should make education a significant part of your agenda. Make sure that you continuously grow your knowledge which will allow you to always have something new to share with your colleagues and managers. Personalise your training or workshop sessions depending on the needs of your stakeholders. Teammates who are familiar with CX may need some very practical tips to improve their performance, whereas your colleagues that are just entering the field would look for some inspiration and some very simple steps to get them started.

The more people you help to evolve their CX thinking, the more trust and credibility you will build as a professional.

Adapt to the inevitable changes

Weather in the mountain is not under your control. Accept it and be ready to change your route immediately. You can’t continue in a thunderstorm or a thick fog. The weather changes in a matter of seconds sometimes, but there are signs of this before it happens (hurricane wind, clouds, drop/increase in air pressure). You should be ready to abandon your initial plan to guarantee the safety of all group members.

Make it your mission as a CX manager to look for these hidden signs in your organisation, before the “weather” changes and you are caught in the storm.

When you are starting your CX program, you might think that the bells and whistles will go on forever. But the customer-facing people might get discouraged after a few months that the initial program you set doesn’t give them an actual picture of customer experience.

The same is valid for the most senior leaders – in the first or two years they might get excited by the improvements in customer satisfaction scores, but once you stabilise those, they will challenge you to prove the financial impact and the need to make bigger investments in customer experience improvements. As a CX manager, you should be aware of the internal dynamics and anticipate what will happen next.

In conclusion, I have always been an avid believer in the rule of trying to connect your passions and professional purpose. Being great at your hobby help you become a better CX leader if you are open to transfer your skills. Be brave and just do it.  

Momchil is a judge at the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards 2020.