Who Owns the Customer Experience?


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Much is written today about customer experience – in fact, only this week, Director Magazine UK published an article I wrote about that very subject. According to Google, on average, 135,000 individuals each month, globally, search the term ‘customer experience’, which made me ask myself: what value could I possibly bring to these people? I want to cut through the theory, the hype and the allure and try to answer one simple question: who owns the customer experience?

I’ve read articles that suggest that sales owns the experience, then an equal number believe that marketing owns the customer experience and let’s not forget about customer service and support, surely they own the customer experience.

If you subscribe to the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s (CXPA’s) definition of customer experience as ‘the perception that customers have across all of their interactions with your organization’, then all of these articles are right, for the most part, it is sales, marketing and service that own the customer experience. But not so fast. I believe that, in order to deliver a superior customer experience, all employees own the experience regardless of line of business. Customer experience is not about a one-off transaction or interaction but about the collective experiences that a customer has with a brand over time. By this definition, every employee in an organization owns the customer experience.

You see, those of us inside the business are guilty of thinking in silos; sales, marketing, service, product, operations, human resources…However, our customers don’t think that way. When is the last time that you heard a customer describe their experience with a particular brand in terms of an operational function? Their experience, regardless of touchpoint remit, is with the brand as a whole; it is formed across all of their interactions with your organization and can have a profound impact on your brand.

I would suggest that if you are going to identify one person or group in the business that owns the customer experience, then you have to start at the top. The CEO is the brand ambassador and chief strategist for the business and if his/her strategy is customer focused, then you can bet that all of the silos will follow. Forward looking CEOs have put in place a new role, the Chief Customer Officer (CCO), that has the mandate to work cross-functionally trans-organization to insure that the business thinks from the ‘outside in’, from the customer’s point of view and not from a siloed perspective.

Understanding the customer, not only listening to them, but engaging with them on a level where it is possible to give them what they want and need before they realize they need it is key to insuring a relevant and personal approach is delivered, joining the dots across the customer’s journey for a seamless customer experience.

This is the approach that we take to customer experience at Thunderhead.com but what’s your view: who owns the customer experience in your organization?

Marchai Bruchey
As the Chief Customer Officer at Thunderhead.com, Marchai Bruchey is responsible for customer experience, acquisition, retention and success: bringing the voice of the customer to the boardroom table. Marchai has more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing and strategic alliance management in the technology industry.


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