In my first days in my last job as then “Global Head of Marketing Innovation” I was introduced to the then CTO of the firm. We met in his office at 7 am for an introduction. When I mentioned that I work in the marketing team he declared: “If the product is good, we do not need marketing”. Intuitively I replied: “If the product is good, marketing has done its job.”, not knowing if I had just signed my severance documents.
But I realized that there are different interpretations of what marketing is. It was his perception that marketing was there to edit thought leadership pieces, organize events and create advertising collateral. I had just come from one of the most well-known marketing agencies. For me marketing meant owning the client insights to inform not just messaging, but product features, experience design, go-to-market strategy and so much more.
Fast forward several years
The previous CMO had enabled me to identify and run pilot projects to take a “new” approach (i.e., Design Thinking) to service strategy development and business opportunity identification as part of my “marketing” role. So somewhere half-way in my time at said firm I became their Client Experience Strategy and Design lead. But I was also not part of marketing anymore and had transitioned into the Digital Office responsible for enabling the digital transformation of the entire firm.
I was now running a practice that was supporting critical enterprise-wide service and product development initiatives building on the principles and techniques of human-centered design.
In building the practice however it became clear that “client experience” caters to a lot of different stakeholders and with that a lot of different interpretations: Some think of it as user experience (the actual interface design), others think of it as client servicing (how well do we respond to any client inquiry from password resets to RFPs). For some the best experience comes from the ability to integrate systems and related data, while for others it means mitigating processing errors. And for my colleagues from marketing, it means consistency of the brand and its language across all touchpoints. No one is wrong. They are all right.
And that is what makes CX Strategy such a powerful uniting strategy. It informs every clients’ interaction and the perception thereof with the firm. And it provides direction how the systems, people and operations must be architected to deliver the experience.
More so, a mature CX practice leverages a large set of qualitative, quantitative, behavioral, and financial indicators to inform and design any service or product from day-to-day optimization to entirely new revenue opportunities through product innovation. The practitioners work together with product owners (the business side), technology & operations, sales & marketing and are advised by finance, HR, legal and other business critical functions. A well-defined strategy guides and tracks the target market, the business case, the value proposition, the product and service features and go-to-market strategy.
It is critically important to drive the growth of a company. And in informing the delivery systems architecture and processes (people and technology) it uncovers cost savings potential.
A CX practice is a team player that works in concert with the other enterprise functions. It is based on the belief, that client needs inform design which in turn informs architecture. This belief emphasizes “desirability” over incremental improvements of existing processes and technology.
That does not mean, it cannot uncover low hanging fruit. As a matter of fact, it must in parallel deliver continuous optimizations to stay relevant in the short term.
As many notable management consulting and analyst firms have proven, a CX Strategy and Design practice is a critical entity that does not only act as design capability but educates and trains an entire company and thus drives transformation and culture change as well as top and bottom-line impact.