• December 29, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Consolidate Customer Interactions to Manage Customer Experience

There are few things that irritate customers more than interacting with several members within an organization across various channels to get their issues resolved. In some cases, effectively managing customer touch points across channels may be the differentiator between strengthening customer loyalty and watching customers defect to a competitor. But, according to the first document in the "State of Customer Experience, 2005" report series by Forrester Research, most companies have yet to centralize how they manage the customer experience. "Who's In Charge of Customer Experience," compiled from interviews with executives from 176 North American companies generating annual revenues of at least $500 million, surveys how companies manage customer interactions via call centers, retail outlets, and the Web. In a 2003 survey of 110 U.S. firms with more than $500 million in annual revenues, the research firm found that a mere 22 percent of firms designated ownership of all customer touch points to one person. Yet Bruce Temkin, vice president and research director at Forrester and author of the report, believes that not much has changed. "Only 24 percent of respondents in this survey have a single person responsible for customer experience," he writes. However, when broken down based on industry, Temkin says, the use of one customer experience executive is not consistent. "At the high end of the spectrum, about one-third of services firms have a single exec responsible for customer experience," he writes. "On the other end of the range, only seven percent of retail and wholesalers report having a single customer experience exec." The survey also polled executives on which unit within a company is primarily responsible for customer service through different channels. Interestingly, 33 percent of firms responded that marketing should bear the responsibility for overall customer experience management, while 30 percent contended that it lies with customer service. What may be most surprising is that 34 percent responded that "N/A or other" is responsible for overall customer experience. Only a handful indicated that IT or the e-commerce team are given the primary customer experience mandate. When customer service is segmented, however, the responsibility shifts. Thirty-four percent of firms said that marketing groups are responsible for Web-based customer service, followed by e-commerce departments, with 27 percent, and customer service groups placing slightly lower, with 26 percent. One-third of firms responded that marketing groups are primarily responsible for email-based customer service, with 44 percent of companies declaring that customer service groups are in charge of that channel. By contrast, fully two-thirds of respondents put customer service groups in charge of phone-based service and satisfaction. Clearly, many companies remain indecisive about consolidating all service channels under a single umbrella of authority. Related articles: The 6 Most Overlooked Customer Touch Points
Customer Retention: It's All About the Experience Customer experience management leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. It's All About the Customer Experience
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