I often get asked if companies need a centralized customer experience group (with a customer experience executive, like a Chief Customer Officer, in charge). My answer is absolutely yes, or absolutely no. I’m actually quite decisive on this, but the answer is not the same for every company
To figure out which answer is right for your firm, start by identifying your customer experience maturity level. It turns out that there’s a very strong need for a centralized group from the middle of level 2 (Invested) through the end of level 3 (Committed). During this part of the journey, companies are in a transformational mode, making changes that cut across the entire organization. This type of effort can’t be done without centralized support and facilitation.
Transformation isn’t easy. Remember, companies have told us that the top two obstacles to customer experience success are the lack of cooperation across internal organizations and the lack of a clear customer experience strategy; areas that require some centralized nurturing.
If you’re firm is not yet deep into level 2 of maturity, then the answer is definitely no. Companies that invest in centralized groups too soon are likely to either 1) completely offload responsibility for customer experience to these groups; or 2) stifle these groups through internal politics. In either case, they are likely to fail.
While these groups are important in some phases, they should never “take over” customer experience activities. Instead, they should facilitate and support transformational activities across the organization. In my research, I defined the following 8 categories of activities that these centralized customer experience organizations work on:
- Customer insight management. Develop and support a voice of the customer program.
- Customer experience measurement. Create and track key customer experience metrics and related management dashboards.
- Employee communications. Make sure that employees are informed and engaged in the efforts.
- Process improvement. Help the organization map interactions from the customer’s point of view and then redesign broken processes.
- Customer advocacy. Make sure that customers’ needs are taken into account in all key decisions.
- Culture and training. Actively work on cultural change and identify training required along the way.
- Issue resolution management. Establish and support the process for solving customer issues that get escalated.
- Cross-organizational coordination. Support the cross-functional teams and processes that govern the customer experience efforts.
The bottom line: Get the right customer experience organization for you.