The words customer-centric and silos do not sit happily in the same sentence.
Silos harm culture and damage customer experiences. And they hold businesses back.
In the last month alone, 1000s of words have been published on this very subject by the likes of LinkedIn, HBR and Forbes. But whilst all this earnest commentary is being read, liked and shared, over in the jobs section of LinkedIn we’re busy resourcing up the silos.
Just in the last two weeks, eight Head of Customer Experience job vacancies have appeared on LinkedIn. Great! About time we put our recruitment budgets where our aspirations are.
But these roles are not entirely what they appear to be.
One will focus purely on acquiring customers, including running digital marketing campaigns.
Five will focus on customer service, with responsibility for leading a customer care team and overseeing complaints and continuous improvement. In one role the link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction is highlighted, with a focus on hiring and nurturing talent. And one has many of the hallmarks of a CX role – establishing trust, optimising interactions across all channels – but with primary focus on scaling the support operation.
Two of the eight – just two – are ‘proper’ cross-functional, strategic Head of CX roles, with a remit to develop and drive a customer experience strategy, drive a customer-centric culture and differentiate the brand. In addition to the technical aspects of the role – journey mapping and experience design – specific requirements include genuine passion, the ability to build relationship and lead high performing teams, and optimism.
So that’s two of eight roles with any real chance of success in driving strategy. I am not in any way criticising the purpose of the other six roles, but why not call them what they really are? Specialist roles in their own right. Digital marketing is a specialism, so is customer service and so is process improvement. Each of those specialist roles is accountable for delivering part of the customer journey, and vital to its success. The end to end customer journey requires the umbrella of a customer experience strategy to guide it.
Does it matter which function you report into? Not really. It’s influence that counts. Does it matter what your job title is? Probably not. It’s what you do with it that counts.
But the skill set matters very much. The way you construct and name job a title is a reflection of the way you do business. A siloed role indicates an organisation that thinks and operates in silos.
A customer-centric organisation is naturally collaborative, seeing everything from the customers point of view. When that focus on customers is absent, or partial, you get coffee shop customers queueing for 15-minutes for drinks because your baristas cannot keep up with demand from your order and pay app (an issue you have been trying to fix for two years).
You get airport ground staff throwing baggage around like they’re trying out for the rugby world cup and undermining your hard-won reputation as the most customer-centric airline on the planet.
You get customers turned away at the ticket barrier because your rail ticketing system has so many exclusions and clauses that no ordinary human being can negotiate through the system.
That’s what a Head of Customer Experience does. Works across the organisation. Sometimes fixing the nonsense of silo-driven own goals. Always working strategically, driving an organisation-wide collaboration effort so they don’t happen in the first place.
So, come on recruiters and hiring managers, don’t let customer experience become a phrase that you throw around casually. Say what you mean.
Like me, Beth is a Customer Experience Specialist and proud to be a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP). Beth started out in internal communications, journalism, and knowledge management. It was during her time working in a commercial team in financial services that she first spotted the link between Customer Experience Management and business results – she never looked back.
She has worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes, helping them to understand, and think like, customers. I am delighted that she is a part of the growing Customer Experience Consultancy family! Reach out to Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org