Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Connecting the Customer Experience

Customer Experience (CX) is all the buzz right now. I recently had the pleasure of being a Guest Speaker at the Customer Experience Executive Conference in Chicago. Other guest speakers and attendees included Customer Experience Execs from Victoria Secret, Nordstrom, MGM, Walgreens, CNN, Teleflora, Vonage, Macys and other high profile companies.

As we all discussed CX processes, challenges and opportunities, some very interesting similarities and patterns began to emerge. It became clear where in the customer lifecycle CX management first appears and who actually owns the Customer Experience within these companies.

Not surprising, IT owns CX for the vast majority of these companies. And in general CX focuses on post sale experiences, typically call center customer service/support processes.

What was definitely surprising was that, for almost every company in attendance, neither marketing nor sales has any visibility into or involvement with CX. CX remains siloed deep within the IT org. As such all pre-sale funnel stage activities and experiences are not usually considered as part of a CX ecosystem.

Yet all customers experience a number of marketing and sales interactions during their buyer journey, which collectively form the overall CX. I doubt I’d get much argument that the customer experience needs to include everything. From brand, to purchase, to product, to support. And don’t forget employee CX.

But IT does not own content and marketing does not own IVR systems, so finding an owner in either camp to manage this can be difficult. Even if you found one, they would likely focus on their ‘siloed vision of CX’. Not a holistic viewpoint. 

Yes there are CXO and CCO roles. Some CEOs are also great CXOs. (Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, to name a few). But this role requires a strategic as well as a technical leader. It’s one thing to talk and quite another to execute. Even if you have found the perfect CXO, it still requires connecting a single holistic view of the truth.

Is this even possible? According to eMarketer, less than 20% of businesses have even successfully obtained this single view and only 3% have actually integrated online and offline experiences.Yikes.

Most customers really do want you to know where they are in your company’s lifecycle, no matter what channel they choose to experience you on. They don’t want to have to repeat themselves with every interaction, and they don’t want to marry you on the first date either. All the while expecting their information to be locked up, completely secure. Unfortunately 25% of all companies have experienced some kind of security breach in the last 12 months, according to Forrester.

Until a single, fully secure customer interaction platform is fully realized and integrated, CX will likely continue to be managed like a railroad track, built in 2 unconnected sections, (pre-sale and post sale) instead of one completed line.

And while you may not have the ability to install processes to fill the unconnected sections just yet, as new integrations and identity security solutions evolve, it will happen eventually. Hey, it took over 39 years to complete the railroad track from the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific. 

So what can we do right now? In a nutshell, control what you can control and use the data you have. The good news is that even siloed, you can make great strides in improving the customer experience, both on the front end and on the back end of the lifecycle. They just may not be connected and talking to each other just yet.

Eloqua Certified Marketing Automation Best Practices Consultant, Astadia

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