CX Insight Magazine

July 2022

Activating Cross-Functional Teams for Better CX

by Execs In The Know

As customer experience (CX) leaders, we are consistently focused on ways to deliver better experiences, and there’s no shortage of projects on our to-do lists to accomplish this goal! With different workforce models now in play, we are forced to be more creative in the ways we work together to deliver improvements to our customer and employee experiences. In addition, our work frequently requires efforts from multiple departments across the organization. Although the concept of a cross-functional team is not a new one, ensuring that we build the right employee group to maximize the benefits of collaboration on CX-improvement projects in our current environment deserves a second look.

The Power of Cross-Functional Teams

At a high level, a cross-functional team is a group of colleagues with complementary skills who work together to achieve common goals. This group includes representatives with different functional expertise from various parts of the organization that come together to form a working team. The team members may be directly or indirectly involved with the customer, but since CX is everyone’s job, they all add value when working on projects to improve experiences.

A well-designed, effective cross-functional team has many benefits and can supercharge CX work. First — and arguably most important — this team helps break down silos and increase collaboration across the organization. One of the biggest obstacles CX projects can face is a lack of coordination and buy-in from all groups involved. By nature, employees tend to focus on the department’s work, and a cross-functional team can expand this focus to other parts of the organization. A cross-functional team powers a more inclusive environment and enables employees to gain a broader perspective.

Another benefit of bringing a team like this together is the positive impact of increased communication and reduced risk. A robust communication plan that shares project goals and updates will help ensure that the right information is distributed to the right individuals across the organization. Keeping team members informed and working together also reduces risk, particularly when challenges arise. Getting input from multiple perspectives can ensure the best solutions are brought forward for consideration. Many projects face obstacles, and having a team that represents different views can help circumvent or solve these challenges efficiently and effectively.

In addition to bringing unique and varied perspectives to projects, the best cross-functional teams are mutually accountable for the success of the collective group. This focus on shared success serves to strengthen the team and helps bond them as a working unit. Metrics are defined and measured regularly, with mid-course corrections and celebration of key achievements along the way.

Together, these benefits help improve the employee experience and highlight the positive impacts of working together. Culture is a critical part of employee experience, and cross-functional teams help foster a standard of collaboration and creativity. When this team works as a unit, it breaks down silos, maximizes collaboration and deepens relationships across the organization — all important to strengthening the culture. It helps employees understand how different parts of the organization contribute to the overall mission, increasing their value and satisfaction. Building this awareness is a type of cross-training that expands employee knowledge.

These positive internal benefits combine to target our primary focus: improving the experiences customers have during brand interactions. With a strong, focused, and effective cross-functional team, CX surely stands to improve!

Building the Best Team

So, how do you create the best cross-functional team? For one, the composition matters! Including various groups from Customer Service is a must. In addition to thinking about the teams that will plan (Program Management, Project Management), execute (Frontline Customer Service Representatives and Managers) and oversee (Leadership) the work, consider broader representation from across the Customer Service department, such as Communications, Quality, Training and Workforce Management.

While including various departments from Customer Service is relatively commonplace, employees from other parts of the organization may also have important contributions. Consider expanding your team with colleagues from other areas to get a broader perspective. Many other departments could be part of the cross-functional team, and here are just a few to consider, and the associated benefits:



FINANCE Helps the team understand the financial implications of the project, including up-front costs and return on investment
HR Represents the employee perspective, and can highlight risks to consider
INSIGHTS Shares Voice of the Customer data and helps measure and track the associated improvements
IT Highlights and quantifies the technology requirements based on the business need
MARKETING Represents the voice of the brand and helps connect customer-facing campaigns to support needed resources
PRODUCT Educates the team on ongoing or planned product improvement projects related to the initiative

Ways to Activate Cross-Functional Teams

Once you identify the team composition that works best for your organization, create a plan to activate that team and set it up for maximum success. Consider some of these tactics, even if you already use cross-functional teams in your company.

First and foremost, secure a mandate from leadership. Find the highest-ranking person in the organization, explain the mission of the cross-functional team, and ask for support. Work with them to write the invitation email to the team members you’ve selected, outlining the role, the importance of the work and expectations. Having the buy-in from the top on down will help others understand the importance of the work and follow suit.

Creating a plan that outlines how the team operates is a great second step. This plan should include an overview of the project, defined goals, success metrics, team commitments and checkpoints. Sharing the details of how the team works (e.g., meeting schedule, communication standards, escalation paths) is also critical to understanding what’s required and how the team will function. Due to the nature of the work and to be “better safe than sorry,” the cross-functional team leadership should prepare for conflicts and have a resolution plan at the ready.

Another way to activate a cross-functional team is to develop and execute a robust communications plan with dedicated channels to keep members informed throughout the project. This dynamic plan should include ways to regularly communicate status, activities, progress and upcoming deadlines. It should also include reporting against the agreed-upon success metrics, any challenges that the team is facing and celebrations of success.

Ownership of this plan is a great assignment for the team member from the Communications department. And do not limit communications to the cross-functional team alone; devise ways to share project updates with the broader organization to keep them apprised of the progress (important) and how the team is collaborating (more important).


A cross-functional team focused on CX-improvement projects can have wide-reaching impacts across the company, including benefits to the business, employees, and customers. From a business perspective, creating a team that offers different viewpoints and expertise can improve the culture, productivity, and overall success. Employees can improve their understanding of how the projects are managed, strengthen collaboration skills, and deepen relationships across the organization. These teams help employees understand how different parts of the organization contribute to the overall mission, improving their experience, value, and satisfaction.

Cross-functional teams offer a unique opportunity for CX projects, since the way brands interact with and treat customers is everyone’s job. When considering the customer lifecycle, CX cuts across the entire organization. Ultimately, we all work for our customers, so collaborating across the company can only improve our efforts to improve CX. And, finally and most important, customers benefit from the CX improvements the team makes on their behalf. Happier customers deliver better results.


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