Who’s responsibility is customer experience management anyhow?


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I feel a certain sense of pain inside me whenever I run a seminar or conduct a workshop for a new client or prospect in which cross functional managers are present and when asked, they tell me that customer experience management is the responsibility of the customer service department. While probably good intentioned, they couldn’t be further from right.

I personally consider two related maxims about customer experience management in virtually any company. They are simply that customer experience is everyone’s to consider and not just the department down the hall, and second, there needs to be executive governance for it to become culturally embedded and succeed.

Let’s take a look at both of these.

For starters, customer experience management is a process, not a tool. I’ve written about this more than once. It’s a journey companies go on to fine tune each and every interaction they have with their marketplace, across every touch point, throughout the customer lifecycle. Too often the VP of Customer Service or the “Retention Department” gets labeled as the customer experience leader which of course, if you consider the sentence above, is myopic and misdirected. While customer service and post-sale support functions are important parts of building a customer experience program, we need to think more broadly if we’re to become truly customer centered.

Indeed, customer experience needs to be our culture, and not just a project. We need to think about pleasing customers before they call. We need to consider ways to redesign business processes to align with customer expectation and need, and we must consider how to empower each other to make customer focused decisions meant to give customers a sense of “Wow!”. It needs to be pervasive in the company, from our senior leadership down the ranks such that it becomes second nature or almost visceral.

This is often somewhat counter-culture in most companies. Too often, for example companies try to shield themselves from customer interaction by deploying call centers who’s intent is largely issue deflection. Or, for example, sales people on the retail floor of a national chain don’t feel empowered by “the head office” to make a customer’s day, so they’d rather just say no.

Bringing the uninitiated through this process requires often painful changes in organizational construct and culture. We need to knock down long standing organizational silos built by corporate regimes long gone that were often process centered and sometimes product-driven and become entirely customer centered in how we go to market. This will require training because many of us may not understand the implication of this new level of empowerment and how to handle it with care and intellect. And in many cases, success will stem from long and methodological change. Shocking the system will often only lead to chaos which will have unintended consequences tied to it.

Changes in philosophy and business process are not limited to those of us who’s jobs are customer facing. Instead, because cultural realignments like this need to be pervasive, even back-office professionals need to consider the implications of it on their own roles and approach. In short, nobody can, or should escape, and for us to see the benefit of making changes and promoting a customer centered business environment those changes need to affect everyone.

And, everyone means everyone. If executive leadership simply delegates this the way they delegate typical, tactical corporate projects to internal middle management and others to pursue and report back on, it’ll largely fail. Let me repeat and be blunt. Creating an exceptional customer experience has to begin at the top and be owned by the top for the greatest impact and likelihood of success.

If improving our customer experience is simply a delegated project, experience has shown us that since the changes prescribed are often hard ones, they’ll begin to falter and compliance will weaken. There will be inconsistent results with some departmental managers embracing the changes while others choose to shy away or ignore them completely. Such inconsistency will only result in a worse customer experience because as others have written about on the subject in recent weeks, experiences need consistency throughout the customer lifecycle, and obviously, consistently excellent. If little else, inconsistency will create internal contempt and in some cases, spread virally until little more than a situation akin to organizational anarchy will occur. Certainly not the result we were looking for.

Leaders need to set examples for the rest of us. We need to look to them and see them embrace these changes to the company and that they’ll walk the walk along with us in making the changes needed. In my experience, only then will we see measurable, positive results.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Mandel
Marc Mandel is a Regional Sales Director at Allegiance, Inc.


  1. Hi Marc I enjoyed your post, you obviously have the “scars” from many hard days in the trenches. I do think however that we need to move beyond the why (vision of a customer centric business) and the what (the strategy to get us there) to the nitty gritty of how do we do this. The how often feels a bit like “first find a good CEX consultant.” We all know the outcomes we want but do we not need to get down to the level of “here’s what you do on Monday morning” so that businesses can at least realise that they may not have the required people, skills or money to do what is required. They will then probably go looking for the outside help they need.


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