Last Wednesday, I hosted the 102nd edition of Twitter’s first debate hour: #Bizforum. The topic: Is “Customer Experience” the same as Marketing? I’ve also lately been debating the impact of a vocal CEO on customer experience (think Abercrombie & Fitch). In each conversation, I’ve heard a common refrain…
– Who really owns customer experience? And more importantly, should it be its own department?
– Independently of who owns customer experience, how will its success be measured, and what are its outputs?
So, who does own customer experience?
Well, the debates ranged from expanding the marketing mandate to include ownership of the customer experience marketing, to creating a newly minted CX department. But the notion that seems to win out most frequently is that customer experience is a whole organization mandate.
In this light, the components of customer experience: the milestones and metrics would need to be divvied up and assigned to each individual (existing) department. For example: If a customer experience output were product satisfaction, then the engineering and product development teams would be assigned this particular mandate and performance would be measured against the product satisfaction metric. Which begs the questions…
What do you measure? What are the outputs? And, how does it all benefit the business?
In recent times, the economy has been tough. Businesses, big and small, have struggled to stay afloat and manage a profitable balance sheet through the rough waters. These struggles have put a spotlight on:
It used to be that in the first sign of economic instability, the marketing department (and all its appendages) was cut first. Sadly, it’s still the case in many businesses. But it also forces the C-suite who, previously had been lauding the exploits of marketing, to demonstrate the real value that the practice brings to the business.
Marketing, PR and Communications experts are now on display and pushed ever more to demonstrate impact to the businesses bottom line from these new channels and tools. Each of these new approaches to connect with consumers have far too often been touted as being free; but we now know of course, that nothing is free. And businesses – more ardently today – are leery of expenses that do not deliver ROI… or rather that don’t appear to deliver ROI.
To generate true connections with consumers, businesses must invest in time, restructuring, big data, analysis and so on. The market has changed and is demanding a change in the way businesses operate, communicate with them and sell to them. The value of this connection with consumers lies in the notion that retaining a consumer is far less costly then acquiring a new one. Additional value comes from the understanding that the advocacy and influence of a satisfied, retained consumer can convert new consumers much more effectively than can traditional marketing approaches.
From a customer experience viewpoint, we need to define, qualify and measure those connections. This is the place where we have to outline, define, script and design all the touch points where brands and consumers meet. We have to parse those touch points and assign responsibility for them across the organization; we need to be clear on what the touch point looks like, and what we want the experience to be. And, most importantly, we need to understand how to draw a line between a specific connection and the brass ring for business: ROI…
A few CX thought starters:
–Does the product respond to a need and/or a desire? Does it work? Does it go beyond a simple “need satisfaction” and connect with the consumer emotionally? Will the consumer not only refer, but also evangelize? What is the value of this consumer – not just for today’s purchase but also over time?
–Is the brand recognized in the market place; not just among existing consumers, but also more broadly? What is the brand perception? Does the perception yield value (share prices, referrals, word-of-mouth)? Who is talking about the brand; what are they saying; and how does the brand get impacted by association to those who are speaking about it?
– Where can the brand be purchased? Distributors? Direct? What is the transaction experience? Does it reflect the brand values? How does the transaction experience get related into the social space? Is there an opportunity to enhance the brand experience and brand use? What is the value of the transaction, beyond the specific purchase?
There are so many more elements to customer experience that it may warrant a broader discussion, and also demand a whole organization shift. What do you think?
Sensei Debates: How do you measure Customer Experience? Can it be measured? Is it possible to outline, define, script and design the customer experience? Can the outputs of Customer Experience be universally defined? Join the discussion in the comments below.
Image Credit: TibetandTaylor via Creative Commons