Executive Sponsorship Programs

I am looking to develop an executive sponsorship program around customer escalation. I have been conducting research over the past few days and am looking to talk with someone who has created a program or an executive in this role. If you have any advice, would be willing to talk with me, or helpful resources please leave them below. Thanks!

Best Answer

  • ChrisHolm
    ChrisHolm Director, Global Support Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭
    Accepted Answer

    Thanks for including me @PatrickCarmitchel and hi @NatalieHolzer!

    Any type of executive sponsorship program is always great to have as it lends weight to whatever initiative is planned. There are some cautions with executive sponsorship of escalations given that a customer escalation typically has to do with increasing or raising the attention and priority of an issue or challenge, which more often than not means that whatever process is in place failed to address the real or perceived customer expectations in a timely and sufficient matter.  Having a customer-facing executive in a role like this could lead to some unintended consequences given that the person could be seen as failing or lacking in some regard to addressing challenges. Executives are often viewed or perceived as “the face of the company” and thus “have all the answers” (not necessarily true but it's all about perception) so an executive tied to what’s wrong as opposed to what’s right could be risky if not played correctly. This goes to Patrick's comment of the customer committing to executive participation in the process as it changes somewhat the perception of it being seen as a true partnership to addressing challenges not just with a specific customer but all customers and thus alleviating any unintended perception (also to his comment on the strategic piece), and defrays the “yet another problem” type of thinking. So the strategy depends on whether or not the executive is sponsoring the program internally or externally (or both). 

    A few items that are good to have for the process:

    ·       Defining "escalation" and what constitutes an escalation. This sounds simple but can be quite complex. For example, defining the scope of the escalation (does it affect one or more customers), if an escalation is due to internal or external (partners, outside of the company challenges, etc.) factors, etc.

    ·       An "Escalation Manager" or someone who coordinates internal work and acts as the main communicator to the customer (or partners with someone who does). For this role, it is important that the person is able to act with full authority (with the backing of the executive) on all issues. The reason why this role is important is that often escalations are caused by a lack of coordination/communication. In addition, a "rapid response" type of team would be needed and be able to pull resources from whatever group is needed to act on the escalation 

    ·       A process to determine the root cause of the challenges with actions to take across different parts of the company to eliminate or at least alleviate the type of escalation from reoccurring

    ·       Tracking progress: The overall intent of the program is to reduce the escalations so a before and after picture is needed (e.g., how many escalations occurred before the process vs. how many after, the time it takes to act on escalations, number of resources involved, etc.).  This becomes especially important once the program starts to lose attention after initial success and awareness. In addition to this, a process should be built to open and track escalations across different tools (depending on if this is a support ticket escalation, an invoice question, product challenges, etc.) 

    Hope this helps!

    Chris

Answers

  • PatrickCarmitchel
    PatrickCarmitchel VP Product Management TSIA Administrator | admin

    In my experience, escalation programs including executive sponsorship will be most successful when the customer also commits to executive participation in the process. If you go out of your way to escalate to your leadership and you are not speaking with the right level of decision maker, it's likely not going to be an effective motion.

    It may be helpful to understand more information @NatalieHolzer. For instance, is this program designed for white-glove service with strategic customers specifically?

    @Christine Sei, @Chris Holm, @Melanie Gallo Do you have any insights on your experience with developing executive sponsorship programs