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Customer Experience isn’t something you do…

February 26, 2015

Like many operating within this sector, I can be as guilty of this as anyone. Most of us have done it at one time or another. In fact, most of us do it most of the time.

Q: “So, what do you do professionally?”

A: “Oh, I’m in Customer Experience”

It is probably fair for us to call ourselves Customer Experience professionals, however there is a real danger that we could start thinking about ourselves in the wrong way. And when we start to do this, others will too.

With me yet? Let’s dig a little deeper…

Customer Experience isn’t something you do …

You might notice something different about the phrase ‘Customer Experience’ that you do don’t find with the other professions operating within an organisation. For example, Sales is something the business does. Finance is something the business does. Marketing is something the business does. Even Customer Service is something the business does. But Customer Experience is different. Customer Experience is something the customer has or gets.

The name Customer Experience implies something different to the other functions of the business; and there is a good reason for this. That’s because it isn’t a function. Well, not completely anyway.

I’m not suggesting for one second that there are not functional elements of Customer Experience. Of course, if we are going to make experiences better for customers, then we are going to have to ‘do’ stuff. However if we treat it solely as a function, then there is a danger that we start to act and behave in the wrong way.

Functions, as the name implies, do stuff. The people employed in a function typically work in a way to achieve a particular goal or set of goals as effectively and efficiently as possible. Sales people sell. Risk Managers manage risk. However, as these functions get better at what they do, they start to impede or limit each other’s ability to perform. The more the sales teams sell, the more difficult it becomes for the Risk Manager to manage risk. And the better the Risk Manager becomes at managing risk, the more difficult it becomes for the salespeople to sell. They start to resent each other. They stop communicating with each other as effectively. Those pesky ‘functional silos’ that us Customer Experience folk love to talk about so much start to form, and the customer’s experience starts to get negatively affected.

We have seen this happen in a number of organisations. Customer Experience starts to act or be treated like another department within the organisation; and before long, they become just another pesky silo. You start to observe odd behaviours, like people from other departments relinquishing responsibility for the customer because “that’s what Customer Experience are there for”. You can even witness the most simple tactical decisions being referred to Customer Experience when it would have far easier for those other functions to have made those decisions themselves on behalf of the customer. And if you’re not careful as a Customer Experience professional, you can get easily sucked in.

This is the point at which we roll out some of the old cliches out about Customer Experience being a philosophy as well as a function; and Customer Experience being everyone’s responsibility. But there is a good reason why they still get rolled out. They are still as relevant now as they ever were.

There are two things as CX professionals we must keep front of mind at all times.

Firstly, Customer Experience is different, because it is not a function. To be an effective CX professional we must be looking from the outside in, at all times, which is something the business functions will find much harder than us to do.

And secondly, and most importantly – Although there are things that we as CX professionals must do, Customer Experience isn’t really something we ‘do’. It’s something the customer gets…

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Posted by: Ian Williams

February 26, 2015