Customer experience is a stake driven through the center of a company, touching every department and therefore the only person that can truly be responsible for the experience is the CEO.

By: JD Fairweather

If “marketers ruin everything” as Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and founder of Vayner Media stated, why are so many leading customer experience projects? Who is leading your customer experience efforts?

Let me start by saying that I’ve got no beef with marketers. They are key to the success and growth for most, if not all, companies. That being said, should they lead customer experience efforts? Here are a few things to consider:

Marketers are incentivized to create, not nurture, experiences. An amazing marketer is like a magician — great at the “pledge” and the “turn”, making the ordinary appear extraordinary. They are motivated to capture the audience attention and influence the desired outcome; not so much the maintenance of those relationships.

There’s the rub; those experiences are not usually “our” experiences. They are crafted. And although they draw people in, they are fleeting – when finally gone, more personal and organic experiences need to be cultivated. These experiences are outside the scope of most marketing team initiatives, desires or training.

Which leads to the second point; a really good marketer is trained and inclined to think in groups, personas, segments, and samples, not individuals. They create sweeping profiles of their customers to cast bigger nets that haul in the thousands, sometimes millions. On the macro-level, this is exactly what you’d want. However, on the micro level, each customer has different desires and wants out of life. Therefore, each has a different emotional journey with your service. How they feel about a brand differs when things are good, or when they go bad. I won’t say that absolutely no two experiences are alike, but each one, no matter the similarities, at the heart of the matter feel differently about a brand. If marketers were good at the individual, they would be in sales.

Marketers success is primarily measured by their Returns (ROI), the results, and should be. I’m not saying they are gold diggers, but — marketers are marketers. They hunger for numbers, boasting their prowess over the masses. Yes, I know some “social marketers” are given leeway to show value in things like “impressions” and “reach”, but that will end eventually. If you are a marketer and you can’t provide measurable results, your time as a marketer is limited.

The emotional, at times illogical, nature of customer experiences makes it difficult to show returns on things like success and satisfaction; pardoned only by the palpable sense of happiness and loyalty expressed by customers which also can be difficult to measure.

So then who should be responsible for leading customer experience strategies?

Customer experience is a stake driven through the center of a company, touching every department and therefore the only person that can truly be responsible for the experience is the CEO.

Yes, well that is obvious, but not really. Most CEOs are reactionary to customer experiences. They don’t want bad ones to happen but they aren’t proactively championing that they don’t. Many CEO’s will candidly tell you that they don’t need to deliver the best customer experience, but only be no worse than their competitors. This is shocking to consider when the companies with the best experiences are heralded for having CEOs or Founders that put the customer first; Disney, Amazon, Zappos, Starbucks, Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom and Apple, all companies with exceptional customers experiences that have or had CEO’s that took ownership of ensuring great experiences strategies were championed, if not created, by them. The CEO usually takes a longer term view of the customers than anyone in sales or marketing. CEO’s, good ones are around longer and know the success of any organization lies with customers and their view of the company.

It would be unrealistic to think that all CEOs will take up all of this responsibility and have a genuine desire to do so. That’s where a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) or a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) would be needed; a conversation for another time.

What are your thoughts on marketers leading customer experience efforts?

Who is responsible for the customer experience strategy in your company today?

Please Contact ApexCX for all your customer experience needs.

Mar 24, 2017