(How’s that for clickbait?)
It’s not that companies shouldn’t do all they can to improve how they interact with customers. Anyone who’s paying attention knows it’s a critical priority. Rather, the problem lies in how CS is growing within many organizations.
Customer Success is a broad discipline that can legitimately be applied to any form of customer interaction. The thing is, other departments already own many of those interactions. So as a company’s CS program grows it can end up creating ambiguity about exactly who owns what.
That’s not a major problem in the short term, but if left unresolved, this ambiguity will lead to tensions between departments, duplicated efforts, and ultimately, a disjointed customer experience.
This is most apparent in companies that have both a Customer Experience and a Customer Success department.
There’s always been quite a bit of overlap between the two disciplines, but in recent years they have evolved to the point where their missions are essentially identical.
For example, would you say the following definition refers to CS or CX?:
“The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
According to Gartner, this is Customer Experience Management, but it could apply equally well to Customer Success.
That’s not to say they actually do the same things. It’s more that they’re competing to reach the same goal and using different methodologies to get there.
Traditionally, CX has been the infrastructure-heavy data engine that drives strategy. Despite serving a critical role, the ROI on such a big investment is often hazy.
CS, on the other hand, has claimed the territory of the post-sale experience. And with its ability to drive retention and growth, the ROI is becoming increasingly obvious.
Perhaps a bit too obvious.
The allure of ROI gives CS a big advantage in this competition for the customer and can end up pulling attention and resources away from the kind of in-depth research that CX is known for.
This is where big problems will start to emerge – and it’s not in selecting the right balance between CS and CX. Rather, it’s in treating them as separate in the first place.
To create great customer interactions, organizations need effective research that provides the context and history of the customer journey, and this information needs to be applied in ways that actively support the customer in reaching their goals.
Customer expectations are rising rapidly, as is the bar for what it takes to “increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.” To compete, companies will have to weave together all customer-facing activities in order to create, measure, and manage every aspect of the customer journey. And this applies to not just CX and CS, but also to product, marketing, sales, etc.
So what do you think? Are you seeing this trend emerging in your industry? And what practices, processes, and software are the most effective in weaving it all together?