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Best Practice Organisational Structure to Deliver Customer Experience Management

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Over the past week or so, there has been a really great debate going on in LinkedIn over the organisational structure by which most effectively delivers Customer Experience Management.   With more than 70 posts by a wide range of experienced professionals, it’s been one of the most interesting discussions I’ve seen on LinkedIn.

However, with 13 pages of content and so many comments, it’s hard to get a hold of what is being said.  So I thought I’d summarize the post into a best practice organisational structure approach to delivering customer experience management.

There were differing opinions as you would expect, but the key items of general agreement are:

CEO/CxO Support – this is not negotiable

The senior leadership of the organisation must fully support the idea that a focus on customer experience management can be a driver of higher share prices and profits.

Furthermore, they must walk the talk. If that person does not believe that improved customer experience leads to greater profits, the process is pretty much doomed to die a slow, unbudgeted, death.

Customer centric values

The organisation must have consistent and simple to understand customer-centric values that are genuinely held by staff and senior management. If you can ingrain this into the organisation, the rest of the process will be simpler. Think Disney or Apple.

Operational Departments Implement

Operational Departments are responsible for implementing CEM. They have the critical departmental domain experience to understand their business better than anyone else. The CEM Department (see below) understands CEM, and has the tools to support the Operational Departments in implementation.

At the end of the day, the buck stops with the people that know their part of the business the best.

CEM KPIs are Required

Operational Departments must have CEM KPIs. These are rolled down from the C suite and go hand in hand with the standard KPIs they have.

The key understanding here is that CEM KPIs are not just an interesting diversion – they are profit lead  indicators.  That is the key importance of, for instance, Net Promoter Score.  It’s not just interesting, it leads revenue growth. It goes without saying that the CEM KPIs should be connected to remuneration in the same way that the other KPIs are connected to remuneration.

CEM Group is an Enabler

The CEM Department should be an enabler or centre of excellence for customer experience management skills and systems within the organisation.

The simple analogy is with the IT or Accounting departments. Accounting is responsible for counting the money, making sure it’s reported accurately, counseling the rest of the organisation on how best to use the money. BUT NOT making sales.  Nobody thinks this is strange.

CEM is no different.  It is a set of skills and systems that is used by the rest of the organisation to improve their individual CEM performance. The CEM Department staff should be viewed as “consultants” to the rest of the organisation – people with desired skills and the ability to add real value to the whole process.

The CEM department should have CEM KPIs. These should be the same CEM KPIs as the Operational Departments. The goal here is to make the CEM Department and the Operating departments co-dependent. Operating departments should be seeking out assistance from CEM to help them improve.

Process Insights

In terms of process implementation, there are some gems of insight in the comments.

Hot Desking

If the CEM Department is large enough, consider having them hot desk around the organisation to become ingrained in the business.

Reporting

Where does the CEM Department report?  This varies but is generally either directly to a “C” level executive, even the CEO, or into Marketing.  Personally, I am less keen on having it roll into Marketing.

As noted above with the sharing of KPIs, the CEM Department is not solely responsible for the customer experience as this will relieve responsibility from the Operational Departments.

How Many CEM Staff

The size of the CEM Department: This group does not have to be large.  It can be as small as an outsourced consultant to the CEO and up to 20 people for the largest of organisations.

Business Silos

Cross-customer product silos can be of particular issue.  Consider banks who have mortgage, transaction accounts, personal loans, etc. all interacting with the customer.  These organisations have a particular issue and often the silos will need to report to the same person to allow a customer focus to override the product silo focus.

Steering Committee

If you add a CEM Steering committee comprised of senior executives through the organisation, you will also add a high level coordination function to the overall CEM initiative.

I've created a step by step guide to implementing an Effective Customer  Feedback process: Download it Here

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