by Andrew Thornton
As evidence of this, many businesses (especially corporates) cite the appointment of Customer Experience Managers or even Chief Customer Officers. Some of these appointments are new roles, whilst many are essentially a change in title.
But the critical question is: do these roles have the level of influence to drive the change required to become customer centric, or is it a case of a ‘tick the box’ appointment? My observation is that, in many cases, these positions have limited ability to influence the change required – so most are, sadly, destined to fail.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a role within any business for someone to champion CEM – to be the catalyst for organisational change and to provide stewardship for CEM – at least early in the cultural change journey.
Speaking at the recent ‘Humanity in Marketing and Media Conference’ in Sydney, Australian Marketing Institute Chair, Darren Woolley, stated that: “in the US, the fastest growth in ‘C’ level appointment has been CCO’s– many of which were formerly Chief Marketing Officers. This is because the (former) CMO’s had been seen as the face to the market and therefore (perceived as being) best placed to drive a customer focus”. In Australia, we have seen a similar trend in the appointment of Customer Experience Mangers and CCO’s. But are they truly able to make a difference? Or is it just ‘window dressing’? Are they genuine about embracing CEM or just pretenders?
A colleague recently told me that the corporate business they worked for had appointed a Customer Experience Manager. This initially was received as a positive step, but was quickly dismissed as ‘tokenism’ when it became apparent that the role lacked any real ability to drive the change required to fully embrace CEM.
Many Customer Experience Managers are, simply, Customer Service Managers under a different guise. Their roles and responsibilities are little changed from their previous position – so it’s little wonder confusion and scepticism reigns. Customer service is only one dimension of the overall customer experience: there are in fact 4 CEM dimensions to be considered - the Brand experience, the Buying experience, the Product (and Price) experience and the Service experience. And consistency across all 4 dimensions is critical to success in CEM.
Some of the best examples of a business that has embraced Customer Experience Management are where the business has started the CEM journey (whether it is a new business or an established one) with a clear purpose and the right mindset. This largely emanates from the owner or key leaders of the business who champion the benefits of customer management, critically leading by example.
I read with interest the Chanticleer article in the latest AFR Boss magazine (October 2015) which quotes Vaughn Richter, CEO of ING Direct, as saying that: “It starts with a purpose, which (for ING Direct) is to help our customers to get ahead, and our view is that everything else is an outcome”.
He added that: “There are a lot of studies that show companies with a purpose ultimately outperform companies without”.
Regardless of the size and type of business, if the right mindset isn’t in place from the outset then the chance of being successful is limited. Successful CEM based businesses are true to their purpose (that is being committed to delivering a consistent experience across all of the 4 CEM dimensions) and this mindset is embodied throughout the business. Over time, the need for a ‘champion’ disappears as everyone in the business ‘lives and breathes’ the CEM ethic.
CEM only succeeds when it is seen as a whole of business philosophy. And this starts with the right mindset and a real wiliness to embrace CEM at the heart of a business’ culture. That means that all employees within the business must adopt that focus. The role of the Customer Experience Manager is to be the driver or catalyst of change, ensuring success of the strategy as a CEM mindset is embraced holistically through the business.
In our experience at The Customer Edge, smaller and medium sized businesses are better placed to reap the rewards of CEM. Because they are more able to embrace the change required to embed a CEM culture given the right mindset and purpose.
Those businesses that adopt CEM as core to their business must do so with the right mindset from the start and to be clear about their purpose. There is a role for a Customer Experience Managers – in practice rather than simply a title – to champion the embracement of CEM and as a catalyst of change. Ultimately, though, a successful CEM based business is one where everyone in the business lives and breathes this ethos and ensures consistency across all 4 CEM dimensions. As Richter rightly points out, everything else is an outcome.
Co-founder and Inspirer
The Customer Edge