There are many ways to gauge customer service, but by any measure, the stewardship of the client experience in successful enterprises is headed for a dramatic restructuring over the coming years, a senior analyst with Gartner said in a presentation at the research firm's business process management (BPM) summit.
According to Michael Maoz, a vice president and distinguished analyst with Gartner, far too many companies handle the various aspects of the customer experience through stovepiped departments without the BPM technologies or organizational structure to provide for a cohesive oversight of the operation as a whole.
But that could soon change.
"BPM is a board issue now," Maoz says. "These things are in the top of whose agenda today? The CEO's. ... If they're on the CEO's agenda today, you're going to get the memo tomorrow."
Good Customer Experience Takes a Village
The organizational siloes that Maoz describes in what could generally be known as customer experience management are common to businesses across industries.
As the employees in a division concerned with customer loyalty and advocacy focus on metrics like churn and retention, customer-satisfaction personnel might concentrate on market research. Then the brand and reputation teams handle marketing communications and advertising, while the quality team works on process improvement and product engineering.
All worthy pursuits, to be sure, but where's the harmony?
"The issue is many of you do not work together as a team. There is not always an uber-team," says Maoz.
By Gartner's own polling, a mere 2,200 companies worldwide identify a senior position in the reporting structure who oversees customer care. Maoz put the question to his audience, asking a roomful of BPM workers how many are employed by a company with a position equivalent to a director or vice president of customer experience. A smattering of hands rose.
"I guarantee you if you come back here in three years, it's going to be a third to a half of you," Maoz says.
Is Your Businesses Customer Service Strategy Working?
It's easy to cherry-pick case studies of companies that seem consistently to get customer service right, just as one doesn't have to look too far to find examples of those that have stumbled.
Amazon's online shopping experience routinely wins high marks from consumers, while Netflix users rebelled when the company announced the split of its streaming and DVD-delivery services, amounting to an effective price increase of 60 percent for subscribers who wanted to keep both formats.
Similarly, Heinz ketchup has earned reliably high marks on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for years, while companies in sectors like utilities, airlines and insurance have fared far more poorly. But those are all different businesses, different regulatory considerations and wildly different customer expectations, so why compare apples and oranges?
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