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.
- If you don’t have an initiative, then you should start one no matter who leads it.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.