Scrabble game pieces that spell out "Team NJ"
PHOTO: Christine H.

The majority of organizations have a senior customer experience (CX) leader and a centralized CX team in place, according to findings from the Qualtrics XM Institute's The State of Customer Experience Management 2019 benchmark survey. Is it time for all organizations to jump on board and create these CX leadership teams and roles? The easy answer is, “of course organizations should have a focus on CX.” But as for the how and who, what should organizations know?

“I think it’s important for companies to have a CX team, whether it’s formal or not,” said Annette Franz, CCXP, founder and CEO of CX Journey. “It’s a lot of work to ensure the customer voice is listened to and then heard within the organization. While everything a business does is about the customer, I believe these roles provide valuable information and services that feed into and facilitate the customer-centric culture.”

How Many Take Part in CX Teams?

So what do these CX teams look like? Bruce Temkin, head of the XM Institute, said findings suggest one-third of organizations have 11 or more full-time employees dedicated to customer experience. They’ll split roles between insights and analytics, voice of the customer, design and processes, engineering and other roles and responsibilities like internal communications. 

The size of the organization typically dictates what comprises CX teams, Franz said. Smaller businesses tend to have one person, if they have anyone at all. Mid-sized businesses tend to have at least one person, maybe up to three or five. And larger businesses go so far as to have "Office of the Customer" and much larger teams.

Related Article: Customer Experience Best Practices: A Framework for Designing Outstanding CX

Typical CX Teams Roles

According to Franz, the following are some of the more-common roles/responsibilities of the individuals on CX teams, though not everyone has all of these:

  • CCO, VP of CX, or similar title.
  • CX admin or CX specialist; a coordinator role.
  • VoC program manager, analysts; surveys, data, analytics, insights.
  • Customer advisory board manager.
  • Communications manager (might be shared with marketing).
  • Process change or improvement specialist/lean specialist.
  • Experience design/design thinking/journey mapping.
  • CX operations; tools, processes, change management, internal communications.
  • Strategist.

General Roles of the CX 

And what would they do exactly? According to Franz:  

  • Develop and implement tools and processes to understand customers, e.g., surveys, other listening posts, personas, journey mapping.
  • Co-create new experiences with customers.
  • Centralize and analyze customer feedback and data.
  • Identify metrics to track and ensure those metrics are linked to business outcomes.
  • Share the insights from the customer understanding tools throughout the organization.
  • Educate the rest of the organization about the customer and the customer experience.
  • Align and unite the organization around the customer.
  • Ensure that the customer and the impact on the customer is embedded in all decisions, designs and conversations.
  • Partner with HR to ensure that employees have a great experience, and to ensure that customers have a great experience.
  • Partner with the CIO to ensure that the right data is (a) accessible and (b) shareable; able to get to the right people at the right time.
  • Develop the strategy to achieve the desired and intended customer experience.

Related Article: What Separates Customer Experience Leaders from the Laggards

Taking CX Strategy to a Tactical Level

“CX is departmental or team focused,” said Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert. “It takes the CX strategy to a tactical level. A big part of the CX team’s responsibility is to analyze every touchpoint that a customer has at every interaction they have — or could have — with any part of the journey they experience when doing business with the company.” 

Identifying these interaction points are step one, Hyken said. Making them better, easier, simpler, or even eliminating them, is the next step. “Depending on the type of organization, it could be a focus on the digital experience, the human-to-human experience or a blend,” Hyken said. “There may be others — individuals and departments — that may work with the CX team to make this better experience come to life. This won’t happen on its own. It takes a leader that can set the strategy and delegate the implementation to ensure the customer has the best experience possible.”

Insight Focus Must Go Beyond Tech

Generally, the largest components of CX teams are around some metrics and insights, Temkin said. Analytics teams, born out of market research departments, generally, focus on which are the right measurements, who should they survey and what data should they collect.

“But,” Temkin said, “just distributing insights and just collecting feedback and getting it out there in the hands of people doesn't drive enough change. You have to work with the different parts of the organization to make sure you understand what information they need to make decisions."

Dashboards are great and scalable, but CX teams need to work with different people to understand specific needs, Temkin said. Product managers, for instance, may want to look at a different view with different data than others to help them make decisions. “And that might be quite a different view than what the head of the service organization in the contact center wants to see,” Temkin said. “It really takes work to make sure that we're putting insights in the form that actually helps people make better decisions.”

Related Article: How Customer Experience Teams Strengthen Your Brand Through Market Disruption

CX Believers a Must

At the very least, every company must have a C-level executive who champions the customer, brings the voice of the customer into the organization and provides direction and oversight for the work that needs to be done to understand customers. They should also partner with other C-level executives to use what was learned about the customer to improve the customer experience, according to Franz.

CX Team or Bust?

But what if we don’t have a CX team? There are other ways to focus on CX without a dedicated team, but in order for that to work, you must have a CEO who is your customer champion, according to Franz. “He or she must educate, direct and guide employees so that they know what it means to focus on CX, to focus on the customer,” she said. “And the culture would have to be one that is deliberately designed to be customer-centric. Core values and acceptable behaviors for each of the core values must speak to focusing on the customer, making the customer a priority and bringing the customer into every discussion and decision.”