An article in Forbes regarding customer experience (or “CX”) trends for 2019 was recently published. One key statement rang true: “Bringing information together and making it actionable for key departments is crucial to CX.”
Simple as it was, it is one of the foundational elements of a CX program and why collecting information is so integral to companies today. Customer experience is one of the most popular business buzzwords right now, and going into 2019 it is a focus for every major business – and for good reason. According to the Customer Experience Impact Report, 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Unfortunately, outside of improving the customer experience, most companies don’t understand what the purpose of a CX function is. After all, it is an entirely new business function.
Many believe that similar to a Center of Excellence (COE), a CX team operates independently to ensure they aren’t disrupted in their pursuit for an optimal customer experience. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A CX team should be on the front lines with all the other business functions, leading the charge to a seamless and exceptional experience for customers.
Creating a seamless and exceptional customer experience can be difficult as businesses struggle to connect the silos that exist within the company. One of the reasons why silos are so prevalent in today’s business landscape is because of all the disparate data companies collect on customers. Each business function often has its own set of customer data that may differ from another function. These unique “sources of truth” can generate insightful information; however, they are only one piece of the experience, and if used independently can lead to a misinterpretation of the true customer experience.
The Customer Experience Abyss
In order to understand the purpose of a CX team and how one operates, you first need to understand how most businesses organize, manage, and carry out their customer experiences today. Essentially, a company’s customer experience is owned and managed by a handful of teams. This includes, but is not limited to, digital, brand, strategy, UX, retail, design, pricing, membership, logistics, marketing, and customer service. All of these teams have a hand in customer experience. In order to affirm that they are working towards a common goal, they communicate in a timely manner, meet and discuss upcoming initiatives and projects, and discuss results along with future objectives.
In a perfect world, every team has the time and passion to accomplish these things to ensure the customer experience is in sync with their work. In reality, teams end up scrambling for information and understanding of how each business function is impacting the customer experience, sometimes after it has already launched.
This process is extremely inefficient and can lead to serious problems across the customer experience. These problems can lead to irreparable financial losses. If business functions are not on the same page when launching an experience, it creates a broken one. Siloed teams create siloed experiences.
There are plenty of companies that operate in a semi-siloed manor and feel it is successful. What these companies don’t understand is that customer experience issues often occur between the ownership of these silos, in what I like to call the “customer experience abyss,” where no business function claims ownership. Customers react to these broken experiences by communicating their frustration through different communication channels, i.e. chats, surveys, reviews, calls, tweets, posts etc.
For example, if a company launches a new subscription service and customers are confused about the pricing model, is it the job of customer service to explain it to customers? What about those customers that don’t contact? Does marketing need to modify their campaigns? Maybe digital needs to edit the nomenclature online. It could be all of these things; the key is determining which one will solve the poor customer experience.
A mature CX team will listen to all customers using an omni-channel solution (like Topbox), gather insights, and present them back to the business. Topbox enables CX teams to identify where, what, and how the customer experience came to be what it is. Reading through the article I mentioned above, it is apparent that the author of the article clearly understands the purpose of a CX team. Like many others, however, the author may not know that a new, disruptive technology already exists to help companies solve the dilemma of aggregating customer information and presenting it in a way that is easy for the business to understand. Topbox not only empowers CX teams to better understand the customer experience, but the entire business as well.
Customer Centric and Business Focused
As important as the customer is, it should not be the only focus for a CX team. A CX team needs to build relationships and work with every business function that impacts the customer experience. Understanding what the company is focused on can help the CX team know what to be listening for, which in turn will give them the ability to empower the company with better insights. The CX team should be working with business functions to learn their roadmaps, initiatives, terminology, concerns, struggles, and expectations as they relate to the customer experience. This will help with identifying ways to improve the customer experience specifically within those functions.
Simply by understanding the mechanics and challenges of business functions across the organization, CX teams are uniting silos in order to be “better listeners” and approach the customer experience as a living relationship with the business. By listening to all customer conversations across communication channels, the CX team delivers a holistic view of the customer experience that is departmentally agnostic. Insights that come in through a channel that is owned by one business function might impact another, resulting in cross-departmental collaboration as that issue is addressed and resolution is confirmed via measurement against a baseline.
Businesses that have already invested in CX teams are finding that silos exist largely because each business function only has access to the data they have budgeted for themselves. They only see as much of the customer experience as “their” channels and “their” technology can see. Cross-channel CX Analytics platforms like Topbox are removing that obstacle and uniting the business around the thing that matters most: the customer.