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Why CX should be a partnership between business and IT

Reena Leone,
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Customer experience (CX) can make or break an organization

Competition among businesses for customers has never been fiercer, with customer loyalty as the top prize. A true focus on CX means involving many departments and teams – and without a unified, organization-wide approach, CX can become a nightmare rather than a success story. To build lasting customer relationships requires strategy, investment, and the right technology to get the job done. But who really owns CX? Who makes the call on where investment should be made? Who is responsible for aligning teams and creating a cohesive CX strategy?

To find out, we surveyed 5,000 CX practitioners in 12 countries across seven different industries.

Four false assumptions about CX

Our resulting Pega 2020 Global Customer Experience Study identifies four “false narratives;” common assumptions that are stifling CX growth:

  1. CX, despite being a priority, doesn’t need executive sponsorship.
  2. CX should be run by IT.
  3. Companies are displaying customer-centricity with their channel investments.
  4. Analytics are good the way they are now.

According to respondents, IT is twice as likely than any other function to own CX. But what happens when business buy-in is necessary? What happens when the technical decisions aren’t in line with business goals and overall CX approach? The only way for CX to succeed is if business and IT work together.

False narrative: IT should run CX

IT’s ownership of CX can likely be attributed to where organizations are placing their bets with CX – two thirds (65%) of businesses surveyed said they are looking to evolve the technology they use as part of their CX strategy. Any technology decision would have to go through IT. But technology alone can’t align an organization to deliver a superior CX. In fact, too much focus on tech and not enough on alignment can lead to bigger problems. A large majority of those surveyed (81%) believe “people issues” are their biggest CX challenge. These people issues include lack of skills (#1), sponsorship (#2), adoption (#3), and organizational structure (#4).

CMOs are buying more tech than CIOs and driving CX initiatives through the IT organization. This can cause roadblocks with technology, since IT isn’t typically an end-user of the provided tools. In addition, IT isn’t accountable for key financial growth metrics like revenue, customer lifetime value, etc. That’s why CX investments should be aligned to tangible use cases and KPIs that provide value to business stakeholders.

One of the most important CX investments an organization can make is hire or develop CX champions within the business.

How to find your CX champion and get teams aligned

The Experience or Digital team is usually more focused on building great customer experiences across channels, while the Data and Analytics team is more focused on activating analytics to power those channels and create great experiences. With that in mind, the best choice for your CX champion within the business is either is a Chief Experience/Digital Officer or Chief Data/Analytics Officer, depending on how your organization is structured.

Now that your CX champion is defined, how do you begin to align CX goals across teams? Here are some practical steps:

  • Identify key stakeholders on both the IT and business sides – people whose teams and performance could potentially be impacted. Those stakeholders become your “business partners” over the long-term.

  • When new investments are being considered, bring those business partners into the loop quickly; ensure they’re fully informed on the changes being considered and have direct input into the business case being assembled.

  • Develop a regular cadence of communication where those stakeholders can get a current status, ask questions, and propose potential changes.

IT’s partnership in CX

In this model, IT becomes a key business partner to your CX champion, helping them to evaluate software and recommend infrastructure to meet the goals that the business is trying to achieve. For example, when the Experience team wants to make a purchase or implement a solution, IT is brought into the conversation to ensure the technology they’re considering is a fit. Your Experience team might also ask IT to help limit the evaluated solutions, since IT usually has a shortlist of preferred vendors. IT is also essential in determining the effort to onboard new technologies. Both the Experience and IT teams work together to evaluate business requirements and increase adoption, when purchased.

CX isn’t any one thing; it’s a complicated puzzle that takes time to do right. But if an organization is aligned on CX across all teams, they can truly focus on the customer.

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Challenge: Customer Lifetime Value Industry: Cross-Industry Product Area: Customer Decision Hub Topic: Personalized Customer Experiences

About the Author

Pega’s Content Marketing Manager Reena Leone helps clients around the world realize the positive impact that one-to-one customer engagement can have on customer experience and ROI.

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