As Customer Experience continues to gain prominence, a continuing debate carries on…
…who should own the customer experience?
There are two schools of thought here.
Some think it should be one functional group that owns the customer experience.
Which group should it be? Marketing? Customer Success? Sales? Another customer-facing functional group?
When one functional group manages or owns customer experience, customer experience tends to get siloed and as a result becomes an afterthought or no thought at all.
Others think the entire organization should own the customer experience.
That can be problematic as well.
If customer experience remains undefined, leadership doesn’t champion the effort, employees aren’t passionate or accountable about customer experience, no framework is in place to manage it, then customer experience initiatives become inconsistent without focus to guide it, and, ultimately, no one manages the customer experience.
Who pays the price for inconsistent or no customer experience?
Customers pay the price, in the short run. Their experience becomes so poor that they either get stuck in a bad relationship and become resentful or they churn, as they are forced to look elsewhere for a good experience.
In the long run, organizations suffer. As employee morale waivers, customers churn, and growth becomes nonexistent.
There are also some that believe that owning the customer relationship means hoarding the customer so no one else can get to him/her. This creates internal animosity, morale suffers and the silo beast continues to grow, which ultimately hurts everyone.
What Does Customer Experience Ownership Really Mean?
Customer Experience ownership means banding together to give customers the best experience they can have.
The goal is to win customers, keep them happy, and turn them into lifetime brand advocates so they can help companies grow by helping to bring in new customers. And so the cycle perpetuates itself.
Customer Experience has been gaining ground, as more companies realize the need to be customer-centric is paramount to survival and are ramping up their customer experience efforts.
However, customer-centricity is not enough.
Companies must be customer-obsessed.
Successful companies know that the customer is in the driver seat and to keep these customers means to deliver stellar experiences. Thus, the customer must always be top of mind and be at the forefront of your mission and strategy.
Customer Experience doesn’t start when the buyer becomes a customer. It starts well before we meet a potential customer.
There are things companies can do to effectively own the customer experience.
How Companies Can Win at Customer Experience Ownership
Make customer experience the central tenet of your mission and strategy
Organizations who are successful at customer experience live and breathe the customer and as such, engrain customer experience into every aspect of their DNA.
Ensure customer experience starts at the top
Organizations that get the importance of customer experience know that executive leadership must champion the customer experience effort. Leaders establish an environment of open communication, so their teams have a voice in defining customer experience and create the framework to support it, so teams feel empowered to take ownership of and be accountable for customer experience.
A top-down integration will serve to bust any existing silos and prevent new ones from forming.
Align customer experience horizontally across the organization
For customer experience to work effectively, all functional groups and systems must align to support each other in customer experience efforts.
It’s not enough for functional groups to align to connect strategy and operations. Each functional group must share knowledge with the others, understand and breathe a consistent brand message, be able to coordinate across the organization and then be able to understand the customer and meet their needs in the way the customer wants.
Systems must also align. Operational data, CRM and customer feedback must all be integrated to create a closed feedback loop to serve the customer.
Know the customer
To truly connect with buyers, we’ve got to help them along their journey.
To do that we need to know all about them, their pains, their needs and what motivates them. Create personas and keep tweaking them.
But, don’t stop there. We must know their behaviors and emotions. If we don’t know their behaviors and emotions, we can’t help them along their journey. This is where it is important to listen to and engage with customers to be able to deliver the experience they want.
Map touch points to create customer journey maps
Understand the customer touch points that make up the customer journey so you can map out the customer’s experience. Once you know the customer, then you can capture their perceptions of their experiences based on their needs and expectations.
This is also where you can identify where gaps and opportunities in the journey process exist and implement actionable insights to close gaps and leverage opportunities. Visualizing the entire journey map “story” will help you to enhance the experience for other customers.
Focus on a sound closed feedback loop
A closed feedback loop is paramount to a great customer experience.
It’s very telling how important voice of the customer programs are. In the 2013 Best Practices of the Best Marketers Research Report, Chief Marketing Officers who performed in the top quartile used voice of customer programs 68% more often than their lower performing peers.
Organizations must be able to collect feedback from customers, share it with appropriate departments, inject actionable insights into processes to enhance the overall customer experience, and follow up with the customer to update them on the action taken.
It’s important to have a smooth and seamless process flow so the customer receives a continuously enhanced experience.
Adjust your initiatives to support your metrics
Once you implement your customer experience initiatives, align your metrics to each phase of the customer journey. Once you analyze metrics, review and implement actionable insights.
Be brave enough to make changes to enhance the experience even if that means adjusting your strategy in the process.
Always be willing to be creative and experiment to enhance the experience for your customers.
Being solid on who owns the customer experience within your organization is the first step to delivering stellar experiences. Once everyone understands their role, they’ll want to take ownership to ensure they deliver a stellar experience every time.