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Is a customer experience manager necessary?

The debate rages on as to whether companies need a dedicated customer experience manager. One house believes that it shouldn’t be necessary. They ask why a customer experience manager is required if the company is truly committed to customer experience. The other house argues that customer experience is such an important role it needs its own champion. If the answer was obvious, there wouldn’t be a debate.

First let’s take a look at the growing interest in the subject. Google has a neat website called Google Trends - https://trends.google.com/trends . If you type in “customer experience manager” it shows the interest in this search term over a period of time. In the graph below we have smoothed the trend shown by Google and it shows a growing interest in “customer experience manager”, especially over the last 10 years. And it seems to be accelerating.

This suggests that companies are waking up to the need for a dedicated customer experience specialist. There is good reason for this. In theory a customer orientated company, led by customer devoted fanatics, shouldn’t need this person. However, companies grow and the influence of the head honchos gets diluted. Customer experience managers take on the role of customer champion within an organisation. They are the go to person if a customer has a problem. A company could have a complaints department but this may sit in proud isolation. A customer experience manager would be able to explore what causes the problems and wield pressure to reduce them.

Before customer experience managers came on the scene the responsibility for customer experience was scattered around a company. The head of customer service almost certainly would have played an important role. They are crucial in providing an excellent customer experience especially because they are customer facing. However, a customer service department is not able to drive integration between other parts of the company which could be guilty parties, fighting their own corners and limiting the customer experience.

Market research departments have also been important players in managing customer experience. They are the bean counters who report on levels of customer satisfaction. However, just like the customer service department they do not have the clout to drive action that raises the bar. The customer experience manager takes on the responsibility for setting goals, monitoring them, and ensuring that constant improvements are achieved.

Delivering excellent customer experience is not just about processes, it is about philosophy. Someone needs to carry the customer experience flag. Someone needs to be the customer champion throughout the company, from top to bottom. In a way, the customer experience manager is a stone in the company’s shoe that must not be removed. They are a constant reminder that customers can sometimes be irritating, especially in their relentless demands, but they must not be ignored.

This is not a junior management position. The customer experience manager must be able to rove the company, forcing improvements that improve customer experience and therefore improve customer loyalty. This cannot be achieved by a trainee graduate or someone on £25,000 a year.

The seniority of the person isn’t the only requirement for the job. Whoever carries this mantle must be service orientated. They must have communication skills, listening skills and a cool head. They will need to deal with sharp words from customers who demand more and colleagues who believe that their smooth operations are being interfered with. Above all else the customer experience manager must be service orientated. Senior they may be but they should also have spent time in a servile role. At some stage in their lives they should have served in a bar or restaurant, confronted customers in a shop, or dealt with them face to face or on the phone. Only in these ways will they have developed the empathy required for this critically important job.


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