From online browsing to email offers, from in-app shopping carts to in-store purchases, tracking the customer experience is a complex marriage of a myriad of touch points, occurring across endless platforms with countless key performance indicators nested in each. For executives to really wrap their heads around all these collective data points, there needs to be clear direction over who owns the customer experience.
And not a moment too soon: 52 percent of customers have switched providers in the last year based on poor customer service, representing a total of $1.6 billion in transactions.
Just like journalists and investigators are told to “follow the money,” those on the hunt for answers to their customers need to turn a new phrase: Follow the data.
However, that task isn’t as easy as it may sound. While it may seem obvious that the chief marketing officer — whose task is to really know what the customer wants to do before they do it and plan accordingly — should own the customer experience, often this position doesn’t have the access or ability to interpret all the data their company is collecting on the customer. Typically, it’s the chief technology officer who has the access and ability to parse through an enterprise’ customer experience information to understand what keeps some buyers coming back for more, while others are hitting “unsubscribe.”
While it may seem obvious that the CMO should own the customer experience, this position often lacks the access or ability needed to interpret customer data.
Businesses need to take one of two approaches to ensure that customer experience data resides in the right hands. For the first approach, the CMO position needs to transform from its historical touchy-feely strategy into a hands-on-the-data, quasi-technical position. Finding someone with this blend is a challenge, and, as such, the CMO needs to work closely with the CTO on all projects so they can blend their knowledge of digital channels, programmatic and demand-side platforms, and big data analytics to understand the modern-day customer journey.
Alternately, companies can roll these two positions into one newer one — the chief data officer. Two years ago, Gartner projected that 50 percent of all companies would have a CDO by 2017, and the forecast is proving its worth. This position is not about determining the ideal experience for the customer, the way CMOs used to focus on experience-oriented marketing. This is about the concrete experience customers are having. With a deep knowledge of the data points that make up customer journey, the CDO could be the buck-stops-here owner of CX.
Regardless of the path companies choose, they must make one and ensure there is a defined point-person for the customer experience. Wrangling big data and understanding a buyer’s journey in light of these KPIs is a decent challenge now, but it’s only going to grow more complex as technology progresses. Digital disruption is going to alter the buyer journey in the near future in ways more complex than omni-channel monitoring currently presents. Will companies have to rethink customer engagement in light of the internet of things’ influence on an increasingly self-service economy? Will augmented reality differentiate a competitor, driving away customers that are seeking an interactive sales experience? While these seem like challenges for another day, they represent organizational risks for enterprises that aren’t prepared to answer the question: Who owns your customer experience?
John Timmerman has spent the last 23 years with Teradata and has seen all sides of the Teradata enterprise and across most industries and geographies through his work in sales, business development, sales support, product management and marketing. For the last 12 years, his focus has been in the areas of CRM, Customer Interaction Management and Inbound Marketing.