Gartner redefined customer experience management (CXM) this April, recognizing the previous definition fell short in accurately capturing the practice’s evolution. The current definition better captures the expanding influence and importance of customer experience: "CXM is the discipline of understanding customers and deploying strategic plans that enable cross-functional efforts and customer-centric culture to improve satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy." 

An important distinction is the recognition CX is a discipline and not a function of an organization. Creating and delivering consistent, high-quality customer experiences requires dedication across all parts of an organization. Companies must be disciplined in their continued commitment to keep the customer at the center of all decisions. As leaders, CX professionals become the stewards of the customer voice throughout the organization — from ensuring that voice is accurately captured (through data and insights) to representing that voice in company strategy and decisions.

In fact, the pervasiveness of CX leaders' responsibility is a perfect example of how the CX profession has evolved. The best CX leaders collaborate with every team that enables a customer touchpoint (directly and indirectly). They recognize the critical nature of each and every customer input and output source. This expanded purview is critical because it allows CX leaders to identify additional sources of data, beyond the traditional voice of the customer (VoC) inputs, that can help drive and revise the overarching CX strategy. As Forrester analyst Rick Parrish points out, "CX teams need to ensure that their entire ecosystems have the insights they need to put the customer at the center of their decisions and operations." An expanded ecosystem requires an expanded set of VoC data sources to generate the needed insights.

How CX Leaders Can Capitalize on Their Cross-Functional Reach

Innovative customer experience leaders recognize the value and critical nature data and insights play in their role and also recognize that existing VoC programs aren’t maximizing customer data sources. While leveraging data and generating insights to understand customers and drive a better customer experience isn’t new, how and where this happens is. To amplify the opportunity that being connected across an organization offers, CX leaders need to:

Identify, Understand and Maximize Data Sources

A true VoC program should be adaptable. By connecting with resources across an organization, CX professionals can increase their awareness of potential new data sources they weren’t privy to before or didn’t become aware of until after the fact. CX leaders are uniquely positioned in their cross-functional roles to stitch valuable data together in a way siloed teams can’t. Even a central data team, who may have oversight around the collection of data, may not think of how connecting the latest segmentation research with product usage data and marketing campaign results could be used to drive a better experience across the customer journey. Making those connections across sources to strengthen customer experience across the journey is a must for the bottom line. According to Forrester, the average revenue per customer for those with exceptional experiences is 50% to 200% higher than the average among all other customers.

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Act as the Voice of the Customer in the Organization’s First-Party Data Strategy

While most companies recognize the value of a first-party data strategy, especially in light of deprecating third-party cookies and expanding privacy regulations, many of the conversations focus on the data that will be coming into the organization and the insights that can be garnered from it. However, this passive or active collection of customer data is actually a customer experience touchpoint — and an increasingly critical one at that.

Learning Opportunities

Leading companies are thoughtful and deliberate in how they engage customers regarding their data collection. From seemingly small things like opt-in language or privacy communications to larger initiatives like personalization strategies or customer rewards for data sharing, CX leaders have to ensure that the customer’s experience across all these elements is consistent and has a net positive impact. Poor execution, a lack of transparency or ethical questionability are sure ways to dilute satisfactions rates.

Get Involved in Broader Technology Discussions and Decisions

CX leaders have generally focused on selecting and implementing VoC-related technology. The types of tools selected vary depending on the breadth and depth of the VoC program and are generally isolated to a landscape that includes firms like Forsta (formerly Confirmit), Qualtrics, Medallia, and others. However, innovative leaders are recognizing that VoC data, whatever its source or sources, is part of a much bigger data ecosystem within the company. Influencing its collection and interpretation requires being a part of the tech conversations taking place elsewhere in the organization. While CX leaders won’t be the key driver of adopting business transformation technology, like a customer data platform (CDP), they need to be a part of the evaluation and planning process. Collecting customer data, without having someone championing the voice of the customer in its collection, is a critical miss.

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CX Leaders and the Data Imperative

The role of customer experience leaders continues to expand and mature in ways no one could have envisioned even five years ago. CX leaders have unique connections across the organization that few other roles do. While it can be challenging to network throughout an organization, when done effectively it presents a unique perspective into the customer data ecosystem. CX Leaders need to recognize that their roles now carry an expanded data imperative. They must champion the voice of the customer both in the creation and execution of a first-party data strategy — from data collection all the way through to insight generation — while breaking down company silos that may be limiting the organization.

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