Who Really Owns the Customer Experience in 2020?

Which key players within your organization should be responsible for your customer journey

who owns the customer journey at your business can make all the differenceDelivering a great customer experience is the key to staying competitive in the new decade. In one sense, the responsibility for this falls on every employee in the business. This is because every employee creates experiences with the customer through their interactions with consumers, other employees, or the technology that supports the business. But this responsibility isn’t the same as ownership. Who owns the customer experience? Even though everyone needs to be involved in CX in some way, there needs to be a leader, someone setting the strategic CX vision for the business as part of one or more cohesive customer journeys.

Whether you are just beginning your customer journey program or have been working to improve it for years, your business must know who owns the customer experience process. This comes in three parts – identifying journey ownership today, identifying the best person to lead the overall journey, and evolving to have journey owners within the larger journey team.

Current State of CX Ownership

Sometimes leaders come from marketing, cx, it, departmentsIn many businesses today, CX is a responsibility shared by many departments, especially when the business itself doesn’t have a dedicated CX leader. The head of each customer-facing department often owns a piece of the experience. The head of marketing may be responsible for how customers interact with content online or in digital ads, while the sales leader may ensure salespeople are adequately coached in a customer-focused sales approach. This method can create some truly excellent experiences within specific departments, but the lack of a holistic vision does make it more difficult for the company to plan out and implement specific customer experience initiatives. 

In companies that are more sophisticated in their journey management, they will often have appointed a leader for customer experience. This might be a chief customer officer, the head of marketing, or the CIO. If they’ve been tasked with bringing customer experience to the forefront across the business then by definition, they are the owner. We’ve seen the trend change in our research. Earlier in the past decade, marketing owned most new customer journey projects but CX and Technology teams have been increasingly leading the practice. Today – CX ownership is still largely split between the two modes described above, with some businesses having no central point of truth for their customer journey, and some having leaders appointed, though not always given the authority and reach they need to implement a wide-scale change. 

Who Are the “Best” CX and Journey Leaders?

owning cx means having the strategic customer journey vision to reach the highest summitTo pick the right leader for customer journey management and customer experience, you need to ask who is most well equipped to identify macro issues within your customer journey. This person also needs to be capable of both spearheading a company-wide transformation and focusing on CX improvements in specific areas. Often this person is someone higher up in the marketing, IT, or customer service team, or a dedicated chief customer officer. Whoever this person has to be the champion for the customer experience and for bringing a consistent and engaging experience across all parts of the business. This person should ideally be a dedicated senior executive, but even if they are wearing multiple hats, it’s crucial to identify one person who owns the customer experience process and coordinates between departments. 

When considering which person should be the CX champion for your business, you need to consider who is best equipped to build out the customer journey. The person who owns the customer experience must have a strategic mindset. This is why often marketing or IT leaders are excellent fits. They are used to planning out campaigns or technology stacks to work as seamlessly as possible. But traditional marketing and IT aren’t the only sources for a customer journey or customer experience leader. Members of a dedicated CX team can and should rise to take ownership of the customer journey across the business as a whole. These professionals often have the customer-focused mindset to identify real areas of improvement for the business. Finally, this cx champion should be a C-suite executive who will own and guide the development of CX programs across the business. 

The Future of CX Ownership

Journey management team members discuss journeys. Recently businesses have begun hiring customer journey managers. This is the ultimate answer to who should own the customer experience – a dedicated team led by the owner of the CX program, someone in senior management. These journey managers should have specific responsibilities for journeys within the business. These range from the acquisition journey to the loyalty journey to the service journey, and beyond. All of these different journeys are a part of the larger customer experience, and they need to make sense in context with each other. Someone receiving a tailored service experience, for example, should not be interrupted with irrelevant marketing experiences. Even a relevant marketing experience may be poorly timed if it’s not done in conjunction with what’s happening in the service journey. 

Whether or not you have a CX champion today, the customer journey continues at your business. It is up to you to harness and manage that journey to deliver great experiences to your customers. If you’re interested in learning more about how to advance the practice of CX at your business, develop a journey program, and identify the root problems that result in bad experiences, we highly recommend our guide to the Fundamentals of Journey Management. Inside you’ll find useful tips and key information for getting started on the path to deliver amazing customer experience.