August 2013 - The Service Council

Customer Experience Management. Who Should Own It?

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Customer experience management (CEM) is a strategic area of differentiation for organizations, especially given the ease with which customers can now transfer their allegiance to competing brands. Even in areas where switching isn’t that easy, say manufacturing or heavy equipment, a dreadful customer experience is bound to result in customer loss.

That said, there is no clear-cut definition for customer experience management, nor is there a guide for who in the organization should own and oversee these initiatives. Quite often these initiatives are led by marketing and, more often than not, CEM becomes a marketing tagline as opposed to an organization-wide initiative. If it isn’t marketing, then the mantle passes to service or sales. Since association with sales quite often comes with skepticism or a “what’s the catch moment’, service takes the lead. Given my background covering service over the previous eight years, this sounds about right to me.

That said, I find myself coming up with a different answer to the “Who owns CEM” question. And it’s a three-part answer.

  1. If you don’t have an initiative, then you should start one no matter who leads it.
  2. It shouldn’t be owned by marketing, service or sales. Nor should each one have its own CEM initiative. This leads to a lack of consistency of experience felt by the end customer and defeats the overall purpose.
  3. CEM needs to owned by the entire organization and therefore supported with executive leadership. Every single person in the organization needs to understand his or her impact on the eventual customer. This isn’t just limited to common customer touch points (service, sales and marketing) but extended to others such as finance, engineering (in product-centric industries), account management and more. A great experience across the traditional CEM pillars can be easily destroyed via a cumbersome and tumultuous billing experience. Likewise, an excellent service experience can lead to nothing if the customer has a difficult time logging into his or her own account to access basic information.

The traditional boundaries of service, sales and marketing are blurring as each is involved in and impacts the performance of the other.  More so, these are just internal boundaries, as the customer’s journey doesn’t necessarily follow a linear path that allows for a straight hand off. What’s most important is how the customer’s journey is impacted or enhanced via interaction with the organization, or put in a different way, how easy it is for the customer to conduct business and acquire information from the organization.

We will be digging into a CEM research series around the following topics:

  • Customer journey mapping / customer experience design
  • Multi-channel customer management
  • Voice of the customer

Our coverage will feature three research surveys on the areas highlighted above and the output will be distributed across papers, blogs, podcasts and more. More so, we will also be sharing examples of organizations at various stages of the CEM journey via case studies as well as our Smarter Services Webcast Series. On the topic of CEM, we will host a webinar on Thursday November 21 at 11am Eastern.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the ownership of CEM issue. If you are interested in our CEM research or want to highlight an organization that gets it, feel free to contact me at

A New iPhone (or Phones) is Coming. Will Field Service Organizations be Interested?

By Sumair Dutta | News | One Comment

It seems that on September 10, Apple will announce an updated version of the hugely popular iPhone, quite possibly tabbed the iPhone 5s. (Link via @TechCrunch). The new phone will have updated capabilities consistent with Apple’s naming criteria and will feature a faster processer, improved camera, better battery life and potentially a built in fingerprint reader. The phone will also feature Apple’s new iOS7 mobile operating system. There are also rumors that Apple will release a cheaper iPhone aiming to expand the appeal of their products to a more cost conscious audience across the globe.

The iPhone is becoming quite a popular device in the field service space. In our current mobile devices survey (still live at, nearly 50% of the organizations indicate that a smartphone or handheld is the primary device used by their field agents for work. Of those organizations, 20% currently indicate the use Apple or iOS powered devices. Looking ahead, interest for iOS devices is increasing. Sixty-percent (60%) of organizations are currently evaluating the net new purchase, upgrade or replacements of devices. Of those organizations, 52% are evaluating smartphones and of that crowd 23% are currently looking at iOS powered devices, indicating favorable prospects for iPhone growth in the field service space.

A cheaper iPhone might make things even more interesting. For all organizations, initial cost was deemed as the second most important factor in device selection following the device’s ability to run desired applications. At a lower starting price point, and potentially lower total cost of ownership, a more cost effective iPhone could definitely turn some heads in the field service space.

Top Selection Factors (Percentage of Respondents)

  • Ability to run desired applications – 70%
  • Initial cost – 52%
  • Lifecycle cost – 46%
  • Field agent familiarity/comfort with devices – 39%
  • Battery life – 38%

Of the iPhone using or evaluating crowd, do any of these announcements make the iPhone a more appealing prospect for your field workforce?

Early Results From Our 2013 Mobile Devices Survey

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

We just launched a survey on mobile devices and have already captured insights from 145 total organizations. Here are three key takeaways from the initial results –

  1. Mobile Deployment Plans are Still Application-Centric. While there is a great deal of interest in new device types and how these devices can support field service strategy, nearly 60% of organizations indicate that their mobile deployment strategy is application-centric wherein they primarily look for core functionality in their mobile applications and then pick devices that support selected applications. Fourteen percent (14%) of organizations state that they follow a device-first strategy.
  2. Smart Phones are All the Talk for Now, Tablets Are Rising. Within device types, there is a clear lean towards smartphones as a primary work device. Nearly 50% of organizations indicate that they currently use smart phones or handhelds as their primary work device followed by laptops and cell phones. Currently only 8% of organizations indicate the use of tablets for field service. Looking ahead, sixty percent (60%) of organizations are looking to upgrade, replace, or refresh their current devices and of those 52% are evaluating smart phones or handhelds with 60% testing out tablet computers.
  3. IT Still Plays a Central Role in Mobile Device Selection. Two-thirds of respondents indicate that IT is involved in the selection of mobile devices, more so than the percentage of organizations that indicate the involvement of field service leadership (60%). Only 25% involve their field agents or technicians in the device selection process.

These are just early results. We will continue to collect data on these questions and more (device selection criteria, operating system preferences, bring your own device preferences) over the coming week. If interested, please participate via our survey link – and expect to see published content towards the end of the month.

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