Why Customer Experience Shouldn’t Report to Marketing

Posted Sunday, May 13, 2012 in Customer Experience by Patricia Seybold

How Much Clout Do You Have? As a customer experience leader, you may have a well-designed customer experience and/or customer advocacy program. You may have support from your CEO. But do you really have the budgetary and political clout to actually design and carry out initiatives that will improve the Quality of Customer Experience your firm delivers?

Do you have purview to prioritize and to fund initiatives across interaction touchpoints, distribution channels, internal organizational silos, including IT infrastructure projects? Or do you simply gather Voice of the Customer (VOC) insights and oversee customer surveys and then report the results back to anyone who will listen?

Most customer experience executives reside in their company’s marketing organizations. They are supposed to worry about the end-to-end experience customers have when interacting with your brand. If you are really good, and well-respected, you may help drive priorities for some of the business process, policy, and/or IT improvements the company needs to make. But most of the CX leaders I’ve spoken with admit to feeling powerless, discouraged, and underwhelmed by the actual changes anyone in the company is really willing to make. “If only we could take action faster,” they lament. “It takes forever to convince people to make the changes they know we need to make.”

Marketing has no Clout!

I hate to say it, but in most companies and industries, marketing has no clout. Marketing has a budget that it uses to maintain the Web site, do customer research, generate leads, and build brand awareness. Marketing measures its success based on leads generated, conversion rates, and the strength of the brand. The customer experience group housed within marketing measures its success based on customer loyalty scores and customer survey results, as well as how well the company ranks in various channel-specific customer experience audits.

Operations Does Have Clout!
Who does have clout (and budget) in most organizations? The actual product line P&Ls, of course. They’re each responsible for generating their own revenues and profits. The sales executives within those P&Ls typically have the most clout as the premier revenue generators. Or the people who conceive of, design, develop, and deliver the firm’s products and services may have the most clout. But, besides P&L leaders, who gets to spend money and carry out major initiatives for the company as a whole?

There’s usually a company-wide, or at least region-wide, Operations group, typically headed by a Chief Operating Officer. Recently, we’ve also noticed an increase in the number of “Strategic Planning and Operations” groups within large organizations. These SP&O groups are chartered with executing on strategic intent. These Operations groups are typically led by executives with vision, clout, and budgets that are large enough to tackle company-wide initiatives and/or to sponsor pilot projects within P&Ls that may spread to other groups.

CX Execs Should Migrate to Operations
If you’re a customer experience leader who feels powerless to do anything other than report the news and to try to herd your execs in a more customer-friendly direction, look for a better place to hang your hat. Check out your Operations group. See if that might be a better fit.

CX Execs Should Gain Control of OpEx Spending
What’s the best way to get clout? Control the budget. Don’t ask for more money. You won’t get it. But DO ask to have the ability to PRIORITIZE up to 10% of your company’s operational expenditures across product lines, touchpoints, and functional areas. Each P&L might submit items for your consideration, or you could use the funds to sponsor customer-impacting infrastructure improvements that won’t get done any other way.


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