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Customer Experience – Whose Role is it Really?

Defining the roles and responsibilities staff will play in creating and supporting an organization’s Customer Experience strategy can be difficult.

Since, by definition, CX includes every single interaction that someone has with a company, it actually begins with the marketing or advertising that a prospect consumes. Thus, marketing teams are often viewed as the arbiters of experiences.

Marketing teams have the opportunity to set the expectations for the future experience that a customer will have when doing business with the brand. A company can provide useful educational content that helps a prospect along the buying journey, or it can employ annoying pop-up ads that negatively affect brand perception before someone even becomes a customer. Today’s informed customers can see through empty promises in advertising and have high expectations for a great experience.

While it is certainly true that marketers play a role in Customer Experience, placing the burden of supporting your brand’s CX efforts on your marketing team may be a mistake. Instead, the marketing department – and all departments, for that matter – should act to support a holistic CX strategy designed by a dedicated CX leader or team.

The case for clear CX leadership
In many companies, a siloed organizational chart creates confusion both internally and externally. This is why it is critical to have one high-ranking executive in charge of the entire customer journey. For B2B companies, this means ensuring that Account Management or Customer Success can actually deliver what Sales or Marketing promises. In B2C, it means making sure the Instagram-worthy imagery on television or in magazines is what the actual product looks like.

There seem to be two prevailing models in modern corporate organizational structure as it pertains to CX.

The first employs a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) or Chief Customer Officer (CCO). This person is in charge of the entire customer experience, including all transitions from one department to another. The advantage of having this senior role is that it telegraphs to both employees and customers that CX is a top priority in the organization.

The second model involves putting CX within the purview of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). The reason for this is that Marketing is often responsible for customer acquisition and communicating with existing customers, so that department is already contributing a lot to the overall experience. And as CX has become the last true differentiator between brands, it is important that Marketing build experience into the brand promise.

Both models can be used effectively as long as responsibility for the entire customer experience starts and stops with a single department, even though nearly every department in the company will contribute to the experience in some way. Without someone seeing the 30,000-foot view of the customer journey, many seemingly small parts of the experience may fall through the cracks.

One of the most important functions of this singular department is to actually experience being a customer of the company. This means signing up for the company's product or service and using it, visiting any physical locations, calling (or emailing or chatting with or tweeting) Customer Service, using the website and mobile app, etc.

Communication is key
Communication between departments is also critical, and should be a primary focus of the CX leader. A fatal flaw in siloed organizations occurs when Marketing operates separately from Customer Service or Customer Success. These two departments should be working hand-in-hand to ensure that what’s promised in advertising is actually delivered once someone becomes a customer.

Customer Service should be well-versed in every marketing campaign, so employees can answer questions for prospects and customers, and so the department is properly staffed for increased activity after a big marketing campaign. Otherwise, a customer’s first experience with a company may be waiting too long for a service agent that isn’t familiar with recent promotions.

The marketer of today must be educated in customer experience, because his or her work is often the first experience a customer has with the company. It sets the customer’s expectations for what’s to come. What’s more, as customer experience has become the last true brand differentiator, it becomes the single most important selling point in attracting new customers -- exactly what Marketing always thought its job was!