Recently, in a Forbes article Should Sales Own the Customer Experience, Christine Crandell poses this question. Christine points out that a “game of hot-potato between sales, marketing and now finance” exists.
Customer Experience, delivering it, and ensuring great outcomes in organizations should never be ambiguous, ill-defined, vague, confused or nebulous – ever!
With our clients at Pervasive Strategy Group, we ask questions and use language to reduce confusion and bring clarity to everyone throughout the organization. This is a complex question that everyone should be considering, not just Sales, Marketing, Finance, Customer service, or other group.
It seems that the phrase: “owning the experience,” is ambiguous, and a topic worth relating back to leadership, roles, and the purpose of a business.
6 Guideposts To Build Remarkable Customer Experience
Ask the deeper question: why is this even a question? Why should this be a conflict between two or more groups (sales, marketing and finance, et. al.,) at all? Doesn’t everyone own the responsibility to deliver great customer experiences in the course of business? Here’s some guideposts for perspective.
- Leadership owns ultimate responsibility to set the tone and culture for great customer experience in their business.
- Pervasive communication is required at every level of the organization.
- Everyone must know the vision, mission, values, doctrine and their specific role and responsibility to deliver it.
- Everyone has responsibility to collaborate with other groups and team members to achieve results.
- Managers and human resources must nurture a culture that drives great customer experience.
- Management and leadership must have the will to hold people accountable for their responsibility to deliver, and to collaborate.
These are good reminders, In summary, customer experience is a function of company culture, collaboration and shared responsibility – set at the top and demonstrated daily by leadership.
Ask anyone around the table in the board room, or C-suite “what is meant by the phrase, and you will get widely varying answers. Most answers will put responsibility on one person or group. Ultimately, someone must be accountable, to be sure, but “ownership” seems to be a point of confusion.
More importantly, while it is in the board room and C-suite that this question is asked, it is in the trenches among the customer-facing groups in the organization where clarity is needed.
Customer’s Ultimately Own Experience.
Dictionary.com defines experience as “a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something.” Customer owns their “experience”, as they are the ones that actually “uniquely go through it”. Your company, or the people in it, delivered that experience, good or bad.
Employees on many customer-facing front lines look at it that way. Sales, Marketing, Customer experience, etc., all own “responsibility for influencing” customer experience. Because of this culture-centric view, when a bad customer experience occurs, teams and individuals look to find “one point of ownership.” This is the wrong perspective.
It is pretty clear that the main point of disambiguation required is to separate the “customer experience” from the “responsibility to deliver” great customer experience. Making this separation gives clarity to any continual improvement program, and especially a specific negative customer experience issue correction.
Responsibility, Not Ownership
It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure optimal customer experiences. We often look at Sales, or Marketing people and organizations as the “owners”, and I may (and continue to) suggest that in some contexts. But the reality is that everyone in an organization owns customer experience.
Leadership needs to build a vision and mission that makes this clear. Values and doctrine (rules for making decisions) need to be clear and pervasive throughout the organization such that strategy is executed to build the best unique individual customer experiences for every unique and individual customer.
Executives and leaders need to set the tone and culture so that everyone feel’s responsible for the customer experience.
Customer Experience Responsibility: One Owner, Fails
Often, we like to hang “ownership” on one organization, so we know where to look when it breaks down. Looking for one person, or one group to punish, wastes energy and does not put effort on addressing the customer experience, and reversing the sentiment from a bad experience. When a situation breaks down, it is everyone’s responsibility to repair it.
A single owner to punish or put all the responsibility upon leads to certain failure.
The culture and tone that leadership must demonstrate is one of shared responsibility and collaboration to what it takes to maximize positive customer experiences and outcomes. Without this philosophy, the transparent nature of the world we live in today, will unveil the deeper truth. Customers don’t want to do business with companies that don’t know that every touch point – and every individual – is responsible, aligned and motivated to deliver an excellent experience to them for the fees they pay.
Parts of this blog psot were shared on Christine Crandell’s LinkedIn Share for her article in Forbes among many other good comments from leaders in that forum.
Image Credits: Nebulous green aurora by Stock Free Images.