Everyone thinks they own customer experience (CX).

And when everyone thinks they’re in charge, nobody is really in charge.

And that’s a problem.

Marketers think customer experience is their responsibility.

Communications managers think customer experience is driven by engaging, personalised emails, text messages and other collateral.

Product developers think customer experience is something they must bake into the design of products.

Web designers and developers think customer experience is the result of well-made websites and apps.

Operations think customer experience is supported by the way they manage and service customer orders.

Sales think customer experience originates with them.

Who owns customer experience?

It’s obvious really; customer experience is the product of every interaction with your company, so CX must be managed from the top of the company.

The approach to CX must cascade down from a senior level. All teams must have a shared vision of clear CX goals. CX must be a priority for the corporation, and this message must filter down to all levels, in all functions.

Everyone is responsible for improving CX.

Research by Gartner suggests that more than 5,000 organisations have a dedicated CX leader. More than 40% of these report directly to the CEO. This shows how leading organisations are now thinking about CX as a core component of their business.

Your customers own their experience

Another obvious point, but one that’s worth making: your company can never truly own the customer experience, because the customer’s experience is their own making, and their own possession. All we can do is try our best to create positive experiences and then listen to our customers when they tell us what they think, so we can then improve the experience further.

But ultimately, the experience belongs to our customers.

Design strategist Anna Snel wrote about the different elements of customer experience in her 2011 paper, For the Love of Experience. In her paper she describes three components to CX.

Three vectors of customer experience:

  1. The environment (the product, service, store or restaurant)
  2. The interaction (the exchange between your company and the customer)
  3. The effect (the result of the encounter)


The environment

This is the element that you have most control over. You can design your products, services and settings with care, so that customers find them intuitive, satisfactory and useful. You can ensure that customers make decisions with open eyes and clear guidance.

The interaction

Now that the customer is involved, your control is diminished. After all, you can’t guarantee how a customer will respond. Nor can you always guarantee that your website won’t break, or the till won’t jam with receipts, or your customer service colleague won’t have a bad day and snap at a customer.

The effect

The third component of the customer experience is the one you have least control over. You can control what you give; you can’t control what people receive.

The future of CX

As customer experience becomes the dominant way to optimise organisational performance, more companies will centralise CX and organise functions around this hub. A central CX leader will oversee the various components of experience, and take responsibility for monitoring on CX metrics and reporting on progress, issues and roadblocks.


Leif Kendall