We are all busy. Your teams are busy. What's more we don't want to hear our customer experience isn't compelling. Is it surprising few businesses make time for customer experience management? Or that the ones that do, get ahead?
Failure to manage customer experience can contribute to business failure.
You need three things to manage the experience of your customers:*
- Knowledge of every interaction
- A good understanding of how your customers perceive their experience
However, no single team or person can manage all that information. Your whole team has to share the accountability. Shared accountability can achieve a lot; so we’ll start there.
In smaller organisations, people work near each other and talk. Their relationships might stand in place of formal accountabilities.
However, as organisations grow, lines of communication stretch and snap. Each department builds its own priorities and objectives contradict. No one has accountability for the whole of the customer experience. Brand management, marketing and customer services look after some stages of the customer journey. But, they cannot do it alone.
- delivering a compelling customer experience is not in job descriptions,
- personal objectives don’t set a target,
- or processes don’t support customer focus,
then you are unlikely to satisfy your customers.
The leaders of beloved businesses empower their teams – see this great example from Southwest Airlines.
Who should own customer experience (CX)?
Marketing has a good claim. Marketers use lots of data. They know your customers and look after many customer-facing metrics. But, like any person, they know their own job well and others less so.
Some companies appoint a Chief Experience Officer (other titles available). This role has authority and can influence right across the business. To succeed, they need a team; here’s my take on the roles involved.
- Chief Experience Officer
- – a board level executive who can lead your business to achieve customer centricity.
- – can unite cross-functional teams to transform business goals, measures, processes and culture.
- Core team
- – the people whose only job is to deliver customer centricity.
- – includes project, change, data and HR specialists.
- – this team must be able to inspire the wider organisation.
- – one kind of associate is functional / team representatives (reps).
- – the reps raise issues to the core team and CEX, for example, customer feedback.
- – they also support problem definition, solution design and change.
- – the other associates are specialists (internal and external).
- – specialists possess skills you need for specific activities and projects. For example, a graphic designer or friendly-neighbourhood Customer Experience Consultant.
- Extended team
- – in successful businesses, everyone is accountable for customer experience.
- – so, everyone has targets and goals that will deliver a compelling customer experience.
- – and everyone receives communications and training.
- – most of all, everyone’s view on customer experience is valid – so the core team must listen.
Understanding how your customer perceive their experience
You can collect customer data in many ways: surveys, support centre, reviews, web-statistics, etc. But, these data are too complex to report alongside single-figure business metrics.
Describing customer experience as a single number helps spot trends, but can’t tell you how to improve. Words and numbers must act together so you never assume what your customers mean.
Customer journey mapping
A Customer Journey Map describes what happens and how your customers feel every time you interact.
The images show five stages of a customer journey and the negatives of each stage. Yes, mapping is that simple.
When designing parks, planners watch how people use the space. Only after understanding their customers do they lay pavements and other features.
How does that compare with how you planned your customer journey?
Mapping the customer journey brings a lot of benefits.
Every team contributes and learns about each other. Maps help us identify issues and the potential for change. When we introduced change, maps show the impact on our customers, so we can smooth the way.
Pulling it together
Only you and your team can make a compelling customer experience. Numerous studies show a link between culture, employee engagement and customer experience.
Your customer experience management process must involve and recognise the contribution of everyone. Teams have to understand and trust each other. They have to learn each other’s language and constraints; they must support as well as challenge. And you can help if:
- Your customer journey map looks for the root cause of issues.
- Dashboards celebrate success.
- Accountabilities cross organisational barriers.