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Customer Engagement: The Range of Responsibilities Defined

June 20, 2017 | By Lisa Nakano

  • Customer engagement is a new function in most organizations, so executives are trying to determine which elements to include
  • Customer experience, customer marketing and customer success should have distinct responsibilities – but these often become muddled
  • It’s important to understand common missteps when implementing customer engagement to be able to avoid them

As the service director for SiriusDecisions’ Customer Engagement Strategies service, I am very excited about the debut of the SiriusDecisions Customer Engagement Range of Responsibilities Model! We define customer engagement as the outcome of aligned post-sale teams and the approaches organized around the customer lifecycle and business outcomes. For customer experience, customer marketing and customer success leaders, it’s important to understand that although each function has separate and distinct responsibilities, working together enables us to deliver on our brand promise in so many ways  the most important being the product, the service, the support, the partnership and the sense of community we want to foster.

And as much as it’s important to understand what to do, it’s equally important to understand what not to do. In the Customer Engagement Range of Responsibilities Model that we debuted at Summit 2017, we pointed out the most common areas where we see customer engagement leaders and teams encountering stumbling blocks.  Each element of the customer engagement function has the following “gotchas” to avoid:

  • Customer experience: customer database. For customer experience practitioners, it’s easy to get tripped up with the customer database. Often there isn’t a clear definition of the role that customer experience plays. Ideally, the CX team (or person) should be the best informed source on the subject, as well as the linchpin to improving this key resource. Why develop beautiful content with highly targeted messages if you can’t get it to who needs it?
  • Customer marketing: user groups. User groups tend to be set up and run in silos that are sponsored by field marketing, product, sales, countries and more. This shadow customer marketing effort must be corralled and centralized. The insights and interactions captured through user groups are immensely valuable and shouldn’t be left to chance, or excluded from the bigger efforts.
  • Customer success: onboarding. This can be a gotcha – not because it’s being done incorrectly, but because there is a tendency for organizations to put a lot of time and energy into onboarding as a one-and-done exercise. For maximum impact, onboarding should be the first step to a strong and consistent engagement strategy. Using the SiriusDecisions Customer Lifecycle Framework as an anchor is a proven way to keep on track – remember, first impressions matter, but they shouldn’t be the only impression.

Looking at the range of responsibilities, there are also three key areas where the customer engagement functions can blend their individual responsibilities for maximum organizational impact:

  • Communication. Integrating customer perspective throughout the business leverages customer success’ responsibility for improving and maintaining account profiles, which feeds customer marketing’s ability to have a clear line of sight for improving the quality of nurture campaigns as well as the quality of the overall customer database; a basic customer experience responsibility is understanding the quality and capability of the database.
  • Orchestration. Centralizing and optimizing cross-functional action incorporates the customer experience responsibility for customer journey mapping to understand the moments of truth for our customers where relationships are made or broken. Customer marketing dives deeper with understanding and documenting the distinct post-sale personas that make up our customer base, and ultimately, customer success supports and enables the effective utilization of purchased products and services based on that knowledge.
  • Measurement. Metrics and indicators that track impact of investment are required for every function within customer engagement, especially as these functions become less “touchy-feely” and more data-driven. If metrics are coordinated across customer experience, customer marketing and customer success, there are clear lines of value and contribution or the post-sale customer functions. For example, the customer success team is responsible for tracking customer health, an account-level metric. Customer marketing develops and tracks a customer engagement score – made up of elements that can evolve over time, allowing for some flexibility. The customer experience team is responsible for tracking the Net Promoter Score® which, as a standard loyalty metric, can be compared and benchmarked. In this way, all three organizations have a metric that is appropriate to their goals and contributions and provides additive insights and measurements that benefit the entire organization.

Have you experienced any of these common missteps while setting up or refining your customer engagement function? Have you leveraged communication, orchestration and measurement to amp up the impact of customer engagement in your organization? 

 Don't miss our upcoming webcast on customer engagement!

Lisa Nakano

Lisa is a customer experience and insights thought leader with more than 20 years of experience working in global organizations, with an emphasis on the high-tech software, hardware and telecommunications sectors. She has successfully led customer experience, customer insight and customer marketing initiatives designed to deepen knowledge of customers, increase loyalty and improve business results. Lisa has particularly focused on developing ground-up programs and organizations to execute strategies to drive the voice of the customer deeply and broadly into organizations.

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