Deciding who’s responsible for customer experience may seem obvious, but in reality it’s not only on the CX team to help deliver a connected experience as an organization.
Is customer experience (CX) one team’s job, or is it everyone’s job? This binary question is asked by companies of all sizes across industries, but the answer can sometimes be frustrating — because the answer is yes.
Yes, customer experience should be led by a team of experts trained in journey mapping, voice of the customer, satisfaction metrics, and experience design. And yes, customer experience is everyone’s job.
How can these seemingly contradictory answers coexist? Because leading companies are doing both.
In From Customer Experience to Connected Experience: The Executive’s Guide to Breaking Silos & Delivering Business Results, it’s noted that CEOs care about three things:
Fortunately, customer experience — and its sibling, employee experience (EX) — addresses and impacts all three areas.
Companies regarded as customer experience leaders bring in more revenue than those regarded as customer experience laggards, in the form of more customers who spend more, stay longer, and refer others. These companies also reduce costs through operational efficiency and decreased customer service inquiries. After all, there’s virtually no need for customer service if the customer experience is perfect!
And it’s no surprise that customer experience leaders are also often ranked among the best places to work, since employees are the ones responsible for delivering remarkable experiences.
A centralized customer experience team, usually led by a chief experience officer (CXO), is critical because someone has to be able to view and understand the customer journey in its entirety. “Rarely is there a single person or team taking responsibility for connecting experiences so that the customer has a better experience across the brand,” notes Medallia in its guide.
Because so many organizations are siloed, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for leaders in one area to have a full understanding of what other areas are doing. They’re too busy working on their own piece of the experience to be overly concerned about the other pieces.
But a CX team has the luxury of not being bogged down in the day-to-day work that is required to maintain the operations of a contact center or website or brick-and-mortar location. They can instead focus on the bigger picture, including strategic handoff points between siloed areas that are often the source of dropped experiences.
This team’s role often requires a certain kind of finesse — “influence without authority,” some might say.
“When looking to advance customer experience principles across the contact center, digital, or employee experience, you can’t go to those individual leaders and start from the perspective, ‘I’m here to help you improve the customer experience,’” the guide notes. “That may be your ultimate goal, but it’s not theirs. You have to understand those individual leaders’ goals and objectives.”
The chief marketing officer (CMO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief financial officer (CFO) may have distinct goals, but the good news is that the customer experience team can help all of them.
The customer experience team should be experts in the voice of the customer — what customers are saying about the experience in service interactions and structured feedback — and the actions of the customer — what customers are actually doing throughout the journey, such as website behavior. All of these insights must be shared with the individual teams that can most affect change in the experience.
Regardless of title or department, virtually every employee has at least some impact on the customer experience. It’s easy to see how customer-facing roles — such as a salesperson or a customer service agent — have an outsized impact, but roles in finance, legal, marketing, operations, human resources, and even the custodial staff take actions and make decisions every day that ultimately affect the end customer.
For example, the decision to accept only certain forms of payment, or to require certain contractual language, or to make brand promises that the rest of the company must keep, all have serious consequences for the customer.
The key, then, is to empower each and every employee to make business decisions through the lens of customer impact. If it’s good for the customer, chances are it’s also good for the company.
Empowered employees feel better about their jobs. They like coming to work, they feel that their work is important, and they feel like part of a bigger team. Employee experience and customer experience work hand-in-hand; as one improves, so does the other.
And the truth is, employees in siloed departments often have the most expertise to design the optimal experience for their particular portion of the customer journey. This is why empowering all employees to be customer-centric makes for a better overall customer experience.
It also helps the centralized customer experience team be more effective because they don’t have to do everything themselves. Instead, they can focus on transitions and handoffs, customer pain points, and connecting the dots between departments.
In too many companies, when someone sees a customer experience team member walking toward them, it feels like they’re getting a visit from an auditor. This adversarial relationship, in which one team gets to tell another what they’re doing wrong and how to do their jobs right, is unlikely to result in transformational change. But empowering every team member to be customer-centric, with the guidance and support of a centralized leadership team, is what creates the cultural shift required for a truly connected experience.