The Customer Journey in 2019: Who Owns Journey Management?
With the rise of CX thinking, the customer journey landscape has shifted dramatically. Technology is finally capable of real-time journey tracking and orchestration, and there is a shared recognition by everyone across the organization that customer experience matters. This begs the question — who now “owns” customer journey management?
It used to be that customer service and the call center addressed specific points of customer friction and marketing focused on customer experience, but primarily just until the point of purchase. As the buying process became increasingly complex, journey management ownership has become more distributed across the organization, with the pendulum swinging back to CX buyers.
The Profile of the Journey Management Buyer
Our 2019 "State of the Customer Journey" report showed some clear trends on buyer profiles for customer journey management. Since first launching this report in 2014, we’ve analyzed over 11 billion customer journey interactions. When we first started tracking journey interactions, close to 100% of the interactions we tracked were carried out in organizations where marketing owned journey management. Over the ensuing five years, we’ve seen that balance shift. In 2018, a full 42% of the interactions we tracked were in organizations where CX takes the lead on journey management. In fact, the number of CX-led journey interactions grew 45% from 2017 to 2018.
So Who Should Own Customer Journey Management?
Customer experience success depends on coordinated efforts across the business, because customer journeys involve several distinct parts of the business, too. Marketing and, depending on the business, sales, manage all the touchpoints leading up to a purchase. After purchase, customers will primarily interact with customer service and support, although marketing and sales still have roles to play; especially where upselling and customer loyalty are concerned.
Maintaining cohesion across all those functions can be difficult, and missteps can be costly. The key to effective customer experience is empathy, and empathy calls for understanding the customer’s wants, needs, and intentions when they are interacting with you. Data enables that understanding. You can’t create empathetic experiences without the context data provides. Take a customer who purchases your product, but due to a manufacturing defect, needs to work with customer service to make an exchange. Customer service agents have the opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one with effective and compassionate service, but those efforts are undercut if your marketing department is simultaneously sending that customer tone-deaf upselling messages.
One could make the case that either marketing or customer service/support should own the customer journey. Unfortunately, those departments can still be limited by the fact that they necessarily see the customer through the specific lens of their function. This is a real problem because, as we’ve mentioned, customer journeys inevitably span departments. For this reason, responsibility for CX oversight and customer journey management should not be relegated to any one department. Instead, we advocate a central owner of customer experience and journey management, one who oversees and ensures a unified, coherent, end-to-end experience for all customers. So, how do you go about creating this function?
Appoint a CX Leader
Who within your organization is properly placed and capable of leading a company-wide CX transformation? You could elevate someone from one of the departments we’ve discussed, or you could bring someone in from outside the organization, but it has to be someone capable of understanding customer journey interactions across the board. The bottom line is, you need a champion to lead the charge and unite the relevant parties. Shifting an entire organization to focus more intently on CX can be difficult and challenging, to be sure, which is why, regardless of whom you choose, they must have clear, executive support and, of course, credibility among those they need to influence and lead.
Every functional team that interacts with customers across the organization has their own view of the customer journey — marketing and sales have respective funnels and customer service and success teams have their own views of the customer. It’s the responsibility of your CX leader to unite those views into one comprehensive customer journey map; to get everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction. Mapping journeys can be as simple as getting a group of stakeholders in a room and putting sticky notes on a whiteboard, illustrating all the potential paths a customer could take with your brand. Journey mapping allows you to see all of the various touchpoints associated with the pain points you outlined and allows you to take a holistic look at what your ideal customer journeys might be.
Next, your CX champion needs to start setting organization-wide goals for customer experience and customer journeys. Think about the disparate functional goals: Marketing wants to create MQLs, sales wants to close purchases. Customer service wants quick resolutions and customer satisfactions. Weave those functional goals together into organizational ones, and tie them directly to your customer journey initiatives.
Finally, your CX leader should explore technology to assist in orchestrating and measuring customer journeys. As you’ve already realized, customer journeys are incredibly complex, and providing the next best experience in every interaction isn’t something that can be done manually. Look for solutions that leverage data, analytics, and visualization to understand all of your customer journeys, as well as decisioning capabilities that orchestrate journeys across all of your customer facing systems, leveraging data from disparate databases and silos.
Once your CX leader has effectively mapped journeys, broken down data silos, set KPIs, and begun the work of true journey orchestration, you’re on the path to success, but the work doesn’t stop there. Journey management isn’t a set-it-and-forget it initiative, so your CX leader and teams should be continually monitoring journey success and looking for opportunities to optimize. Customer journey management has a direct link to customer experience. When you’re able to orchestrate the next best experience for every customer and get instant insight to find out what’s working and what isn’t, you stand to enhance experiences for each customer, and make your customer-facing teams more efficient and successful.
Related story: How Marketers Can Add Delight to the Customer Experience