Customer Experience – Who owns it? Who is responsible for it?

Just last week, at the CX Forum in Singapore hosted by Genesys, we were posed the question: “Who owns Customer Experience in the company?” The question was provocatively challenging enough to evoke some great conversations among attendees who were predominantly from the contact center industry.  The responses varied somewhat; I’ve summarized some important opinions here:

  • “Everyone who interfaces with the customer – the contact center, the sales teams who engage with the client, and after-sales support teams.”
  • “Everyone in the company.”
  • “Depends on the company and who the customer chooses to engage with.”
  • “CMO – he is responsible for the brand, from lead creation to retention.”
  • “Contact centers – they interface the most with customers, they should own it.”
  • “CIO – in an increasingly digital world, the CIO should lead and drive this.”
  • “CEO – he should own it and carry the mantle.”

I would venture to say that while all the above players play a vital role in shaping the customer experience, no single person ultimately owns the entire customer experience other than the CEO.  So what has changed for this conversation to evoke so many different answers? Clearly, it is the emerging technologies radically disrupting industries like never before. No matter what sector you’re in, technology has the power to erode or create customer loyalty, dramatically changing how we view, measure, and deliver customer experience to our clients.

So what is Customer Experience? Let’s start with the definition, “Customer Experience is the ability to deliver on the brand promise that the company stands for.” Technology and customer experience are now inextricably intertwined as digital disruptions increasingly influence the way a customer is served. One classic example is how sharing business models, exemplified by companies like Uber and AirBNB are creating a new way of doing business and changing the way customers access products and services. I believe these are key trends that are impacting companies in the context of customer experience:

  • Shift from selling a product to delivering a service.  Almost every major Fortune 1000 company is reviewing how it can deliver its product as a service and continuously engage with its customers and in the process provide and extract greater value.
  • The ability to measure/rate/review/monitor, every single interaction with the customer in real-time,is becoming the norm. Not only can you measure the service, but you can also assess and rank the customer.
  • Manage customer expectations:User-centric platforms continue to set the bar on customer expectations. An Uber driver may not be familiar with all the roads, so he relies on the GPS that can sometimes go awry or he may not even be the best driver. Yet many of us love the ride-sharing service, simply because we value the innovation of the business model. We manage our expectations knowing that the driver is not a professional. On the other hand, the moment our regular cab driver makes a mistake, we complain and fret.
  • Companies sell on value. In many instances, as companies are extracting value from existing infrastructure, “the value of the services they provide far exceeds the real cost of providing the services.”
  • Investors value innovationmore than profit.  There are tons of companies (many of them Unicorns) disrupting traditional business models.  They do not seem to be focused on delivering profits. As long as they innovate and the pace of innovation is ferocious, investors do not mind supporting them. These include listed companies!

Evidently, digital disruption is well upon us and set to impact every single company at varying levels. Industries are at a tipping point as customer experience enabled by digital disruptions becomes a key factor of differentiation from competitors. Technology offers immense opportunities for companies seeking to enrich the customer experience. If there’s anyone who should be leading the charge towards embracing technology, it is the CEO. Traditionally, the CEO job has gone to individuals from the marketing, sales or finance departments.  This is set to change. Technology has a big role to play. CEOs today need to understand the potential of new technology to provide an exceptional customer experience. CEOs should be the owner of Customer Experience benchmarks in the company, reviewing and extensively discussing the metrics of customer engagement as frequently as they analyse the financial statements.

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