Brainstorming meeting
Jim Howard Posted by Jim Howard November 06, 2014

Does Marketing Really Own the Customer Experience?

Lately Forrester’s Ted Schadler has been warning about the “battle royale” that is coming over ownership of the customer experience.  He argues that the increasingly sophisticated demands of businesses will force the large I.T. platform vendors (e.g. IBM, Oracle) to fight for who can control the most digital touchpoints on the customer journey. See the picture below.

Figure 1

diagram of digital and physical touchpoints

Typically the marketing function has concerned itself with only first two steps of the customer journey – Awareness and Consideration. Our job is over when somebody actually buys something. But in the battle royale, our customers will force us all to serve them in a more integrated, holistic way. So then who will own the customer experience?

Google Trends reports that the term “customer experience” is searched by 135,000 users per month globally; so clearly lots of folks are interested in this topic. However the articles that result from those searches offer conflicting advice. Some suggest that Sales owns the customer experience, or Customer Service owns it, and let’s not forget about the CEO – surely the drive to create great customer experiences flows down from the executive suite?

Just 59% of CMOs agree with the statement “Marketing owns the customer experience”, according to a 2014 Accenture Interactive survey. The % in agreement falls below half of those surveyed in industries such as insurance, far from traditional retailing and ecommerce.

Truth is: at most large organizations it’s nobody’s job to own the customer experience. No single business function is responsible for ensuring that every touchpoint on the customer’s journey – from Awareness through Consideration, Purchase, Service and Loyalty Expansion – is delivered consistently and with quality.

Digital touchpoints and your brand

The advent of digital technologies and interactions has complicated the traditional flow of customer touchpoints. It used to be simpler: the bricks and mortar storefront, the domestic call center and the use of postal direct mail were all closely managed. Now, the most critical customer interactions occur in the digital world, often in the middle of the night and half a world away. These interactions have the expressed ability to delight the customer or to annoy them. 

Bain & Company’s Net Promoter System measures favorable customer attitudes and behaviors. Companies with a high NPS score enjoy greater customer loyalty. Recent studies have shown customers are more likely to rate a company higher if they have frequent digital interactions. In industries such as insurance, this can translate into 6X more value from a customer returning a high NPS versus a customer with a neutral score. 

In other words, we’ve established that it’s an imperative to deliver digital customer experiences that delight customers. However in most organizations, it’s nobody’s job to ensure that this is accomplished consistently across the company.

The future of experiences: Distributed, but integrated

The question of experience ownership is a hard one. Ripping out or re-building all of the I.T. systems already in place supporting customer touchpoints is not really an option. Shifting ownership of every digital experience under one group (eBusiness) or one person (Chief Customer Officer) is well intentioned but fraught with challenges. For example, companies operating across international markets need to deliver great local customer experiences across multiple regions, cultures, and regulatory environments. Those efforts should be controlled in-country, not centralized.

Marketing teams may be experts on creating great sales promotions, but they aren’t experts on the best customer support experience, nor should they need to be. At Crownpeak, we think the future of customer experiences will still be distributed as it is today, but forced to become more integrated by design. This means that marketing has the opportunity to influence the design of great experiences at the later steps in customer journey, without having to assume ownership.

The battle royale over the customer experience that Forrester predicts will also force systems integrators and other technology firms (um, like cloud CMS vendors) to reinvent themselves to live in a more integrated CX world. At Crownpeak, we like to think that we’re already ahead of this curve…

A central content management platform allows all customer experience constituencies – marketing, sales, service, support – to share the assets, design, data and frameworks that marketing teams create.

If only there were a cloud platform that could work with all of the data sources required for killer personalization. If only it could deliver customer experiences in conjunction with any platform or delivery technology. Crownpeak’s lightweight Digital Experience Management solution can deliver the following from our unified cloud platform:

  • A stand-alone experience on your website or mobile site.
  • A personalized experience pushed to an existing display like Facebook or a mobile app.
  • An experience layer added on top of an existing platform, like a new front-end to an IBM Portal or a SharePoint application.
  • A better user interface experience for a web application deployed on
  • New experience elements such as style sheets or personalized offers merged with existing environments…

…and do all of this using your existing customer content and data repositories without integration headaches.

Ownership of the customer experience is all about marketing controlling what needs to be centralized (e.g. assets, design, data and frameworks) while sharing and empowering other groups to control what should be de-centralized.  That’s a subject for another post.