Seeing CX through different eyes: Part 3

3rd Jun 2020

Who leads on CX?

This is the third debate in a series by Michelle Spaul, CX and change specialist, and Leigh Hopwood, a marketer and business leader. Since meeting on LinkedIn conversing about CX, we have pulled together our viewpoints in a three-part series for MyCustomer. For part one (What does CX mean to you), click here. For part two (How should we implement customer experience?) click here

CX and change specialist, Michelle Spaul, and senior marketer and business leader, Leigh Hopwood, have been debating CX since meeting on LinkedIn over a conversation about the ownership of customer experience. They have been exploring different viewpoints about the most pressing questions in CX today. Although there is broad agreement that a positive CX is fundamental to business sustainability, there is much debate about how it should be implemented.

This time they debate ‘who leads on CX’? Is it a function of marketing or should it be a business function? You may recognise some of the arguments in this series.

Michelle starts the debate from an operational perspective: “Our specialisms are our downfall when we manage customer experience, or to put it another way, when you have a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Marketing wants to apply data, engineering quote Henry Ford and customer services want bigger and better channels to address customer issues.

Our specialisms are our downfall when we manage customer experience.

“The truth is, letting any existing business function lead on CX will result in one aspect improving while the rest stand still. In systems thinking we call this ‘sub-system optimisation’ and it isn’t a good thing. Imagine a car with a modern engine and 1920s brakes!”

Leigh agrees, “I love your thinking here, Michelle. CX has to be applied across an entire business, not just in one aspect, otherwise it will fail to have the real impact that’s possible.”

“I believe CX must become a mainstream business function,” positions Michelle, and she goes on to explain: ”It is a function quite unlike the others.

  1. The Chief Customer Experience Officer pulls together a core team from every team aka department aka silo in the business. The team listens to the Voice of the Customer, the Voice of the Employee and the Voice of the Business. It facilitates data collection and analysis, and activities to improve performance.
  2. The CX team produces the other half of the board report – the half that explains business performance and how to improve it.
  3. CX holds the budget for customer experience. It manages day-to-day costs and sponsors projects to enhance touch points.”

However, Leigh has a very different view:

“CX is not a business function, it is a business approach. Being a customer-led business, rather than sales-led for example, means that the orientation of every person, process and technology is focused on the customer and delivering value, resulting in growth and increased profitability.

“A business may require a working group that focuses on defining and implementing an agreed CX, but it doesn’t make sense to create another business function that is not embedded across the organisation.”

The definition of what customer experience means to an organisation should be led by marketing, according to Leigh.

“Marketing’s role is to define CX, just like it defines the brand. CX is the delivery of those brand values across the organisation. Marketing needs to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to apply this approach and monitor the business impact on customer retention and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). However, it is the responsibility of each functional area to invest in and implement the CX across their people, process and technologies, and measuring the impact of CX at an operational level.

CX is not a business function, it is a business approach.

This clashes with Michelle’s view: “I cannot agree that marketing’s role encompasses the definition of other roles in the organisation – and if we are to see business model changes then roles will change. I would be happy to see a board tasked project team define the way CX will be managed and transformed. Perhaps the CEO / MD / a NED would sponsor the activity.

“Where we do agree is that the future of CX is a collaborative activity and, believe it or not, I agree that marketing has the skills to collect and analysis the data as well as drive a consensus on how to use insights to initiate change in the business and measure its results.”

MyCustomers’ recent research into the rise of the CX leader suggested that 39% of respondents responsible for CX report directly to the CEO and have fairly sizeable teams. However, Forrester predicted that the role of the CX leader is under threat if they are unable to successfully display the business impact that they deliver. When CX is the responsibility of the CMO, the teams are smaller and maybe they are given a little more time to produce meaningful results – something MyCustomer’s research highlights as being important.

What both Leigh and Michelle vehemently agree on is that an organisation must grasp the importance of investing in building a company-wide coherent approach to its customer experience, in order to achieve their greatest potential.

Articles in this series:

 

About the authors: 

Leigh and Michelle met on LinkedIn over a conversation about the ownership of customer experience. This series explores different viewpoints about the most pressing questions in CX today. Although there is broad agreement that CX is a good thing to implement, there is much debate about how it should be implemented. You may even recognise some of the arguments in this series.

Michelle Spaul is a customer experience and change consultant, guiding leaders who want to use CX as a lever to enhance business performance. She believes successful CX management engages people, culture and governance before data and IT. Read more or get in touch at https://customerexperienceconsultant.co.uk or https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-spaul-customerexperience/

Leigh Hopwood is a business and marketing leader who works with organisations of all sizes to transform their approach to business through improved marketing by putting the customer first. Find out more or get in touch at https://reddmarketing.co.uk or https://www.linkedin.com/in/leighhopwood/.

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