Friday, August 16, 2013

The "Customer Experience" Job Role

A few years ago, IDC opened up a new research area within our "role-based" research area. We sought to understand, and define, and then Advise on an emerging role that we were seeing pop-up within the IT vendor community: The Customer Experience executive.

It was a difficult area to research, as we were not able to get a consistent "fix" on the job description. In some organizations, the Customer Experience executive was the head of product quality. In other organizations, the newly-appointed Customer Experience executive was just a re-titling of the head of customer service. And, there were other, "loose" job descriptions across many vendor organizations.

It has taken some time, but today the Customer Experience role (and mission) is becoming clear. This executive (and team) is charged with serving-up a unified and integrated buying experience for smart shoppers. The experience needs to fully encompass the "omni-channel" environment. The experience needs to *anticipate* the channel traversing that is the reality of the consumer's movements.

Customer Experience "Worst Practices", might include these scenarios:
  • The customer is offered a price promotion for an item that is advertised on the web; but the same offer is not acknowledged in the physical retail channel.
  • The customer purchases on-line, but is un-able to return or exchange the item off-line.
  • The customer makes a purchase from a franchised retail channel and then wants to exchange the item at a "corporate" location, but the corporate store (Verizon in this case! This week ! When I was buying a new smart phone!) won't accept the exchange, and sends the customer back to the franchise.
  • The customer is practicing "Show-rooming" offline, but receives multiple and confusing offers for the exact same product, on-line.
The list could go on. Excellence in customer experience should be defined as offering the customer consistency, rationality, and *anticipatory* interaction capability, regardless of channel.

One ISV that is rising to the task to help this very complex Customer Experience job role, is SAP. Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to SAP CMO Jonathan Becher outline this major, "open" white-space which might be paraphrased as the "Omni-Channel Customer Experience". SAP (with its hybris acquisition) is doing a nice job of articulating the challenges and opportunities. Actually "fixing" the experience is going to be a challenging combination of executive and team talent; heavy process improvement; plus the help of some very capable tools provider such as SAP.

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