Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Is the Customer Experience Really Everyone's Job?

Image courtesy of Nikolai Berntsen
Is it really everyone's job?

Pundits and experts alike say that customer experience is everyone's job. If you google "customer experience is everyone's job" and "customer service is everyone's job," you'll find endless articles, blogs, and webinars with that very title.

It's true. Technically, it is everyone's job.

The spirit of the statement, though, is this: every employee impacts the customer experience, whether he's part of your frontline interacting with customers face to face/phone to phone or she's behind the scenes making sure the website works well or designing brochures to describe your products. Every employee matters; every employee contributes.

It seems like that's just one more proof point that the employee experience comes first - and drives the customer experience.

So it kills me when I see so many job postings for "customer experience" roles. In this regard... NO, customer experience is not everyone's job. I've seen positions posted with titles of Customer Experience This or Customer Experience That. Ironically, the postings were really sales/retail  positions or call center/customer service jobs. And sadly, many of the job descriptions never even mentioned the customer! How can that be?

I am an active member (and a Board Member) of the Customer Experience Professionals Association; my colleagues and I are fighting to get recognition for the customer experience profession. This means that we're looking to legitimize, validate, or otherwise verify or confirm that if your job entails listening to the customer and using what you hear to develop and to execute on a customer experience strategy, or if you oversee a team of folks doing the same, or if you are tasked with ensuring the entire organization drives toward a better customer experience, then you are a customer experience professional. If that's the case, then your title should have the words "customer experience." (If you're a consultant who consults on one and the same, it's fine if your title contains those words, too.)

Instead, what we've found is that, with the popularization of customer experience roles and the push to improve the customer experience, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, making it trendy to put "customer experience" in every title. Unfortunately, this simple action dilutes the profession and what we're trying to do.

The good news is, customer experience has gained attention. The bad news is, with that, it can also become meaningless. When job descriptions have a customer experience title but never mention the customer in the actual description, a major fail has occurred.

What should you do?

Do your job, the one you're hired for. You don't have to have "customer experience" in your title in order to prove that you impact the experience. If you're a true customer experience professional, one whose role is to make customer experience management an integral part of how their companies operate, do all that you can to stay true to the profession... for yourself and for those around you. For those whose job is to deliver a great customer experience, give the CX professional a chance - they are taking what they hear from customers and translating it into a story to help you deliver a great experience.

In the end, yes, we are all responsible for ensuring our customers have a great experience - title or not. How will you execute?

When it comes to creating a great customer experience, everyone within the company is committed to doing what it takes to succeed. -Quotepedia


  1. Enjoyed the article, Annette. I, too, believe that customer experience is the job of everyone in the business. If a sales person has a terrible attitude, brings her/his personal life into the transaction then the customer will think that behavior is part of the culture. If the shipping department is always late with deliveries then of course so will accounts payable. We all play an important role in making sure customers receive a great experience each and every time.

    - Brock Patterson

  2. I agree with your points, Annette. A question back to you: In your experience, does the rise of Chief Customer Officer and Chief Customer Experience Office roles hurt this concept? Or, can the two go hand-in-hand?

    1. I think having a CCO helps because then there's a cohesive and focused effort on the customer and his experience - including around roles and role definitions. I hope that also means that, given that cohesive effort, the entire organization is clear on what a customer experience professional is versus someone who's role is ensuring he delivers a great customer experience.

  3. Hi Annette,
    I wonder what would happen if every firm eliminated all mentions of customer experience from roles and job titles and concentrated on building a culture and mission that really put the customer at the heart of the business?


    1. That's an interesting concept, Adrian. I'd love to know if there are any companies doing that now.

  4. Customer service has never probably in history been as poor by US companies as it is today. The fundamental reason is that customers generally by nature want the best deal and want promises kept and value / respect / good deals shown. Companies by nature want to get customers to buy and then charge them more and more and maximize revenue out of them while not caring if the customer leaves if they are not ready to keep paying more and getting often less. We see this in CPG companies where cereal manufacturers for example are now raising prices and giving less cereal and making their coupons worth barely anything or multiple purchases required. We see it with service companies who get customers to purchase and then outsource their service centers with poor training and minimal employee empowerment and the philosophy is say a few right things like you matter customer but don't truly give them a better deal. Comcast is an example of the worst customer service I continue to experience as you fight to get a good deal and then some agent does something wrong or tells the wrong info and you get a higher bill and when you fight for honoring what was told or loyalty there is no powerful decision-maker willing to help. Companies like Dell and HP do this also with foreign employees reading scripts and treating customers like foolish people who should follow the script with them but not go outside the lines. I guess it's the nature of company vs. customer that so few companies put revenue and ever increasing revenue second to listening and helping give the customers better and better values. If companies make a billion in profit, they want 2 billion and never is it like ok big deal if our profit goes down temporarily by giving better deals as we will more than make this up with more customers. Greater customer volume with lower margins comes far second to lower customer volume and greater increasing margins. Customer service needs to be reinvented like a decade or two back where you could go to the grocery store and if the customer was savvy they would do great and companies didn't mind and always tried to help for the most part. Technology margins are just destroying customer service which in turn makes customers angry which in turn leads to more frustration and a lot less nice people. Companies need a pay it forward customer service mentality.

  5. Interesting comment. I think the real question is does the organisation have a long term or short term perspective if how it should work with its customers.

    1. Good point. Without a customer experience vision, the rest doesn't matter. A cohesive effort toward a common approach and goal is important to have.