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Who ‘Owns’ Customer Experience?

By: Tara Allison
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This was originally published on LinkedIn.

The best CX is a product of more than just marketing.

Any brand with a sophisticated digital presence will agree that customer experience (CX) is critical. But in practice, CX is difficult to master. Maintaining consistency across channels, ensuring quality support services, and incorporating new technologies to stay on trend with consumer habits is a monumental task. So it begs the question: who in an organisation is ultimately responsible for ensuring a quality customer experience? The easy answer is the chief marketing officer, tasked with coordinating marketing efforts targeted directly at the consumer. And I would agree that the CMO drives the CX strategy. But the best CX is a product of the entire company working together with a customer-centric approach.

Who ‘owns’ CX?

Customer experience can’t be owned by any one person. In the same way that marketing and sales are most affective when they join forces, customer experience should be a collective effort. After all, the most effective marketing in the world won’t matter if customers can’t complete their purchase because payment processing systems aren’t functioning correctly. And salespeople can’t expect to be successful if designers create an unintuitive product. Therefore CX is a sales issue, an IT issue, a marketing issue, and so on.

Brands should think about CX as an extension of their company mantra.

Every business division needs to understand the brand’s CX strategy and view their own division’s operations as part of the bigger picture. All consumer touch points should enhance customer experience in some form. This is why CX doesn’t end with marketing. Brands should develop an end-to-end CX strategy that accounts for all areas of the business, not just those explicitly client-facing.

No owners, only leaders

While customer experience should be the result of a complete brand strategy, decisions still have to be made, and someone has to make them. While not the CX owner, the chief marketing officer acts as the CX gatekeeper. Marketing is often the first touch point for consumer interaction with a brand, so CMOs still hold the keys to customer experience. CMOs should work hand-in-hand with the director of sales, as these two positions hold the most control over a brand’s CX strategy and are ultimately responsible for its direction. But CX still comes down to a collective effort from the whole company.

Aligning company and customer values

The best customer experience is a reflection of consumer values, not company goals. Many brands develop an ideal ecommerce journey map to improve profitability, but don’t take time to consider that journey from the customer’s perspective. Brands need to use available consumer data to construct a journey map that fits their audience’s needs and habits. Marketing leads the way in this customer experience mapping, but IT may play a role in data collection.

While the audience should be at the center of CX, company values also play a role. Everyone in the company, from board members to interns, are responsible for ensuring that company values are implemented on a day-to-day basis.

A customer’s experience should be indicative of the kind of treatment a company wants to extend to customers.

When developing a CX strategy, decision makers should consider how they want consumers to perceive their company—and make sure that’s communicated throughout the organisation.

Social listening and feedback

Evaluating a brand’s customer experience should be a continual process that goes beyond monitoring product reviews on Amazon. Brands need to employ more sophisticated social listening and consumer feedback mechanisms to truly measure brand perception in the marketplace. Brands need to know where they’re falling short and then take substantive steps to close those gaps.

No brand likes to read negative comments and reviews about themselves. However, those consumers are providing extremely valuable information about where CX is falling short, giving a company an opportunity to remedy mistakes. It’s actually more difficult to evaluate what customers like so as to provide more of a good thing.

Either way, the important thing is that brands monitor feedback, take it on board and interact with it—not ignore it. Showing customers you value their perspective is a key component of an effective CX strategy. Customer service plays a big role in this aspect of CX.

Leveraging technology

Technology is a major component of CX that deserves to be considered more carefully by CX strategists, who should bring IT to the table early in the strategy process. Taking a technology-based approach to CX can not only enhance a brand’s CX strategy, but also position a company as a leader in the digital marketplace.

CX aspects like website design, easy-to-use payment mechanisms, order management and delivery confirmation all have a tremendous impact on overall customer experience. This is why it’s so important for brands to partner with the right ecommerce system provider to leverage technology in the most effective way possible. Every piece of the customer journey impacts the overall experience, and it’s up to all company leaders and business segments to develop a CX that ensures profitable customer relationships.