This article is part of our April 2019 series about customer experience. Click here for more.
Customer experience management (CXM)—the orchestration and personalization of the entire end-to-end customer experience—requires a deep bench of cross-functional experts to function. While the specific skills necessary for an effective CXM practice can vary by company and transformation goals, every CXM team must possess some overarching must-haves.
“The group needs to be open-minded, data-first, and customer-centric,” said Sprint chief digital officer Rob Roy. “The most important part is being able to step away from what you think you know and place yourself in the customer’s shoes.”
In addition, said Coveo CMO Mark Floisand, good CXM teams need representation from across the organization in order to understand customer life cycle stages and the interactions customers have across various touch points.
“The team needs a holistic understanding that every interaction counts. Each time a customer engages with a brand at any stage of their own unique journey, they are providing the brand with more data, more clues, that can better inform the experience for that customer,” Floisand said. “It's crucial to establish that common understanding up front across the team to ensure no data silos get left behind."
Wanted: CXM Team Players
Among the decisions to be made in setting up a CXM squad: determining what that team will look like, how it will interact with the rest of the company, and—perhaps most difficult of all—finding and recruiting the skilled professionals to staff it.
Let’s start with a look at 10 key capabilities or roles that comprise a successful CXM team.
1. CX designers: Designers, particularly those with a foundation in service design, can quickly prototype and design CX changes—either optimizations or entirely new innovations, said Abram Sirignano, a partner at Prophet.
“This individual must truly understand what great experience design looks like and have a foundational approach to delivering that,” said Rachel Lane, customer experience solution principal with Medallia. “They work well with teams across all channels. They can talk the overall UX story but also ensure that a right-customer, right-time, right-methodology approach is designed into how the voice of the customer is brought into the business.”
2. Journey analytics: These analytics professionals gather and analyze behavioral data on how customer activity flows across journeys in order to stitch together relevant moments, channels, and touch points, Sirignano said. A journey analytics pro can collaborate with internal teams and external agencies to ensure a cohesive and frictionless experience across touch points through persona building, journey mapping, and usability testing, said Jonathan Collins, digital program director at Mindtree, who is currently assembling his own CXM team.
3. Journey owners: These professionals own the CX journey the way a product manager owns a product. “They are accountable for managing the current state and maintaining a backlog of planned improvements,” Sirignano said.
They gather and prioritize requirements, continually deploy solutions, and optimize the journey using customer-centric KPIs, Collins added.
4. Financial modeling: It’s critical to make a business case for CXM in order to get appropriate support and funding.
“Ultimately, you want to build an econometric model that links activity measures to business benefits, connected via customer experience satisfaction and value measures,” Prophet’s Sirignano said.
Medallia’s Lane said CXM teams need CX evangelists who can turn issues into opportunities.
“They are purveyors of internal ROI stories right across the company,” Lane said. “A good storyteller will often earn the ear of the CEO and may be offered a slot on the exec board meeting to deliver the customer story.”
5. Data steward: It should come as no surprise that every CXM team should include data professionals “who can work with CIOs or chief data officers to define a holistic customer data management strategy,” said Ajay Khanna, vice president of marketing at Reltio. “Members of customer experience teams must also coordinate with other cross-functional teams responsible for data governance, as well as data privacy and compliance.”
6. Data analyst: The primary purpose of the data analyst is to uncover insights that will specifically improve the customer experience versus, say, improving site metrics or optimizing media spend.
“These insights could result in personalized content for a previously unidentified segment or an improved interface design of a particular touch point,” Mindtree’s Collins said. “More and more, ongoing validation and optimization of the experience in near real time is also part of this role.”
Lane likes to call these folks “story seekers.”
“They are masters of root cause and professors of scale and impact,” she said. “Without fantastic story seekers that can seek out potential financial linkage impact stories, you will always have an uphill struggle and, at worse, could be seen as data crunchers whose day is made up of answering internal data queries.”
7. Solutions/enterprise architect: CXM may not have a dedicated architect, but “having access to a technical resource to determine the feasibility and requirements needed for enterprise-level CX initiatives at an early stage will help the CXM leader in collaborating more deeply with marketing and IT,” Collins said. “In many cases, tools and platforms that would improve CX are already licensed by an enterprise but are underutilized and or poorly integrated with one another. This role can help identify those issues.”
8. CXM operations: These folks understand the process changes required to become a CXM-driven enterprise.
“The operator owns the CX program governance and will ensure that all business stakeholders understand and meet their obligations in the CX program,” Lane said.
9. Customer advocate/market research: This is a hybrid role, according to Collins.
“As important as the technology, data, and design roles, this hybrid role should be in direct contact with customers on a continual basis, through surveys, interviews, and events, while also keeping abreast of broader trends within the market including disrupters who may simply be doing CX better,” he said.
10. Experience measurement: It’s critical to “measure, measure, measure, so that the organization can understand the current baseline and how new programs are impacting KPIs,” said Sandi Lin, former Amazon executive and current CEO of Seattle-based Skilljar.
CXM needs people who understand how to measure customer experiences, implement those metrics, and begin monitoring them. Typically this will go beyond a Net Promoter Score to more nuanced metrics that can also be combined with other more traditional KPIs, such as cost to acquire a customer.
So Where Are All These People?
Good news: You likely don’t have to look far. According to Lin, some of the best CXM talent is already working in most organizations.
“Customer success professionals who have a deep understanding of the customer life cycle, their business objectives, and their pain points, along with keen observational skills, are a great place to start,” Lin told CMO.com. “Individuals with product marketing, product management, customer enablement, or customer/life cycle marketing experience may also be a great fit.”
Erica Yamamoto, who heads up etailer Zulily’s CXM team as director of lifecycle marketing—and who previously worked in investor relations and on the CEO’s team—almost always looks for CXM hires within the company.
“We have an incredibly unique business model with many different departments, so leveraging talent across the organization with an understanding for a very unique e-commerce model and existing relationships provides a great advantage for a CXM specialist,” she said, adding that she’s looking for intellectual curiosity and an ability to thrive in ambiguity. “I’ve hired individuals with backgrounds ranging from merchandising to sales and operations.”
Keeping these CXM stars on board once you’ve found them should also be a priority. It can be hard to recruit and retain in CXM “because journey management is still very new as a functional role within an organization, and often looked upon by other functions as threatening or even useless,” Sirignano said.
Those who are dedicated to CXM are the best bet.
“Recruiting should be highly selective for individuals who want to build their career in experience management,” said Ken Ramoutar, global head of client experience at professional services firm Avanade. “It will take courage and a real passion for talent to stay.”
CXM leaders should also ensure their CXM team members take care of themselves as well as their customers—and give them the technology and support required to get the job done.
“The hard part is giving the team the right tools,” Sprint’s Roy said. “If you do that and give them the freedom to break barriers and eliminate red tape, the outputs can be amazing.”