Organizations need a more centralized customer experience strategy

Who is responsible for the customer experience? Forrester looked at the question and the practices of a centralized customer experience strategy in large firms.

Most experts nowadays agree that a centralized approach is essential in ‘managing’ the customer experience. There is nothing worse for customers than having to interact with businesses across the channels of their choice and often with several interlocutors, whereby they have to repeat the same question over and over again.

By having a more centralized view on the customer experience, putting the customer in the center, this can be avoided, even if it requires a mix of changing processes, cultural shifts and technologies.

Who takes care of the overall customer experience?

But if the customer is so important and the customer experience needs to be looked upon from a centralized – or at least connected/integrated – approach, then do we also need people with a more central role making sure it all is done in an optimal way?

Forrester surveyed executives of 176 North-American companies with revenues of at least 500 million USD to know how they tackle the question and how they manage different interactions with the customers across call centers, the Web, retail outlets, etc.

The result: only 24% of surveyed companies has someone on board who is “in charge” of the customer experience. Report author Bruce Temkin concludes not much has changed as in a similar survey in 2003, only 22% of organizations had someone in charge of the customer touchpoints.

Obviously, there are differences, among others regarding the industry. In the ICT industry, for instance, I know quite some companies where different stakeholders get rewarded in function of the so-called ‘Total Customer Experience’.

Silos, channels and segments

Noteworthy: 33% of surveyed managers feel that the responsibility for the customer experience should be in the hands of marketing. I tend to disagree. 30% felt that the responsibility for overall customer experience management lies with customer service.

The research, part of a broader “State of Customer Experience, 2005” series, also noted that the opinions regarding responsibility changed when customer service is segmented.

An example: 44% of respondents said that customer service is responsible for customer service via email. Overall, it seems that there are not just differences regarding the ways organizations manage the customer experience and see the responsibilities.

The overall lack of a centralized approach also seems to play on a channel (telephone, email, Web,…) level. Or in other words: again more silos.

Source: Forrester with additional data from DestinationCRM.

This article was originally written in Dutch by the author, who translated it as part of an ongoing content integration project.