Who owns customer experience?

This subject has come up in a number of articles that I have been reading recently. In one article the correspondent posed the question as to why, despite there having been a significant growth in the number of professionals carrying the title “Customer Experience” over the past few years, there doesn’t seem, on the whole, to have been a significant improvement in customer service or experience across business and industry. And he’s right of course.

Customer Experience has grown enormously in popularity over the past decade. It makes perfect sense that businesses should put customers right at the very heart of everything they do. After all, it is the customer who pays our wages! Yet, despite all of this, the customer remains largely misunderstood in most organisations. In order to unravel this issue, there are two key questions that need to be answered, namely: When the customer looks at our business, what do they see? Who within our business owns the overall customer experience? Let’s attempt to answer each of these questions in order. But does the customer see the business in the same way? Well, not really…

Who owns Customer Experience

The customer doesn’t really think about a business in spacial terms, organising various bits of it into departments and levels. The customer thinks about a business chronologically, in terms of different timings and stages of interaction. They remember the first time they heard about your business from a friend down at the pub, then they think about their first interaction with your marketing collateral, then their first conversation with a sales person, followed by the transaction, delivery, customer service etc.. The customer thinks about your business from a process and emotional perspective, but most organisations don’t view themselves in that way.
The next question of “Who within our business owns the overall customer experience” follows on very nicely from the previous point. If we consider the customer’s experience to be a process and emotionally based view of our business, then most businesses do not have a single person or team who can be identified as being responsible for this orientation. Most companies are organised into departments, each which carries responsibility for different parts of the customer experience, however most companies are not organised around the customer’s view of business. Herein lies the problem.

Who owns customer experience?

The biggest issue with being organised and structured around functions is that each function has its own view as to what constitutes good customer service, which leads to a disjointed experience with inconsistent levels of service at each stage. The other drawback with the functional organisation is that if any one person were to attempt to take responsibility for the overall customer experience, they would be viewed as starting some kind of turf war or “land grab” by their colleagues in other functions and an internal war would break out. Taking ownership of the customer’s experience is a highly emotive issue for most businesses.
Many businesses have given someone working within their ranks a title which includes the words “Customer Experience”, however haven’t yet been able to resolve the issue described above. Changing the Customer Services Director’s title to Customer Experience Director is not the same thing as re-organising your business around the customer’s orientation. The issue rolls on…

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