Who Owns CX and EX?

Who Owns CX and EX?

The language used around customer experience (CX) can be dramatic. Phrases about being “customer obsessed” or making customer experience the “new battleground” sound urgent right? But it gives no nod to the dependent role that EX (employee experience) plays in shaping customer experience. With the Great Resignation and labor shortages impacting every sector, EX has taken on new emphasis.

But the real question companies need to be asking, as it relates to CX and EX, is who now owns it? Who should? And in “owning” it, how can CX be enhanced and reimagined through an EX lens (and vice versa?) How can that dual view bring both into clearer focus for the betterment of an organization as a whole?

Who Owns CX?

Marketing

Customer Service Team

Frontline Employees

Customer Experience Team or Officer

Depending upon the organization, the marketing department may own CX. Maybe the customer service team will own it. But in these cases, what these teams or departments might actually “own” is just very specific pieces of the customer interaction, not the big picture. Those companies that are further along when it comes to CX maturity and customer centricity are going to be more likely to have positions like a CXO (Chief Experience Officer) or a Chief Customer Officer. Those individuals are tasked with providing more holistic oversight to bring the various departments under them (like marketing and customer service) together to achieve a common CX vision.  It’s important to note that any sense of “ownership” should not be confused with being possessive in nature. That could potentially lead companies to have unintended blinders on in their customer experience approach (and create silos in the process.)

But hearing from customers and managing CX is only half of the true equation. The other half involves hearing from employees. The most successful companies come at CX using feedback from both.

“Employee empowerment and recognition is the core of our culture and how we achieve outstanding customer service.”

~Herve Humler, Pres. & COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.

Providing a customer-centric experience also goes beyond just focusing on frontline workers. Sure, they have a great impact on CX and they should “own” their role in the organization’s customer centricity strategy. But what about an employee who makes a product or provides a behind-the-scenes service? The customer will never meet that employee, yet the individual’s work directly impacts the customer experience. Whether you are creating a product or offering a service, most roles in an organization relate to something the customer is experiencing.

Customers have rising expectations of a seamless experience. The best way to meet those expectations is to develop a culture with a customer centricity focus where the entire organization owns CX. When there is buy-in on this and when the C-level adopts and supports this culture, it drives successful outcomes.

Who Owns EX?

It’s a valid question and now is certainly the right time to be asking it. According to Gallup, for the “first year in more than a decade, the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. declined in 2021.”

Gallup found:

%

of workers surveyed were engaged

%

were actively disengaged

That level of employee engagement has to be impacting customer experience as well.

Conventional wisdom dictates that, of course, HR owns the employee experience. For example, employee satisfaction or engagement surveys are owned by HR and for obvious reasons. That department typically measures a variety of factors like:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Work-life balance
  • Effectiveness of training programs
  • Growth opportunities
  • Feedback on manager performance
  • Ideas for improvements across the organization

To be truly customer-centric, however, EX needs to grow beyond the traditional survey.

Recent work by the HR Research Institute in 2021 would seem to support this.

What HR Professionals Are Saying:

76%

of participants think employee engagement positively impacts customer service

30%

of senior leaders prioritize employee engagement

24%

of senior leaders say they invest enough in employee engagement-related resources

Viewing EX holistically typically starts with the top leadership and cascades down for the benefit of the entire organization.  It’s not only about giving employees a reason to come to work every day, but it’s also about giving them a better sense of purpose. 

Making the Connection

It’s well known that there is a link between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A 2021 study found:

83% of customers will switch because of bad customer service

73% of Americans would be willing to go out of their way to go to a company that has better customer service

52% of Americans will pay more if they know they will receive great customer service

Shining a spotlight on the duality of CX and EX makes sense for the bottom line.

Connecting CX and EX – Don’t Be Overwhelmed

The best path to success starts with communication and advocating for both the employee and the customer when implementing any sort of CX change. For example, competitive companies can no longer rely just on senior management alone to make decisions on how to execute on customer experience. It’s critical to have the employee perspective when planning customer-facing initiatives. It’s equally as important to let employees in on what you are hearing from customers.

The DRG’s Chief Customer Officer, Shelley Ahrens, likens this approach to being a “champion.” Advocating for both the customer and the employee. That makes it much easier to break down the silos that may exist within an organization. It puts the focus on the end goal, the bigger picture, and enhances alignment.    

WATCH VIDEO: The DRG’s Chief Customer Officer, Shelley Ahrens, speaks to why a blended CX/EX approach is more important than ever right now.

Educate & Communicate

Ahrens says if it sounds daunting, think of it in these terms. When you educate and communicate the value and importance of hearing from your employees when making changes, it provides employees with a sense of purpose and a voice. It proves that their ideas matter and can positively impact the customer. And it’s never too late to start making even incremental changes. View it as an evolving continuum.

If you’re looking for where to start, Ahrens recommends going for the low-hanging fruit first by checking in initially on those frontline employees. If no employee listening program is in place, commit to having some organic conversations with workers. Ask questions like:

  • What are you seeing in your day-to-day job? How is that impacting your ability to deliver for the customer?
  • How do you think we could change perceptions for the customer?
  • How can we implement a better customer experience?
  • Are there things we are doing as a company that hold you back from being able to do right by the customer?
  • Are there barriers or processes in place that are inhibiting a good customer experience?

Rarely is there a single source to look to for improving customer experience, so gather that employee feedback to identify connections that could impact both CX and EX. From there, build momentum for a more customer-centric culture throughout the organization. Ahrens suggests viewing customer centricity not just as a customer experience play, but also as an employee engagement and retention play.

You don’t have customers if you don’t have employees rallying around a common vision of what they want to achieve. And you don’t have employees if you can’t deliver on what customers want and are expecting.

So let’s get back to the original question: “Who Owns CX & EX?”

The answer at any given company should be: “We All Do.”

Learn more about our view of CX & EX. 

Two Experiences, One Goal

The Intersection of CX & EX