CX Best Practices: The First One to Touch It Becomes the CX Owner

This week’s best practice:  when a customer approaches an employee with an issue, that employee becomes the CX owner and owns the issue until it’s resolved.

The best customer experience organizations in the world have all the essential elements: a clear common purpose, a team that is aligned, and a clear understanding of customer needs and wants.  Truly great organizations also create industry best practices, many of which are simple, precise, and focused.  In our best practices series, we highlight specific behaviors that can help your organization join the CX elite.

Nobody wants to be the football

Imagine you’re a customer at a big-box hardware store.  You want to order carpet and installation, but you can’t find anyone in the flooring department.  You wander to the paint section and find an associate, but he just shakes his head and says “I can’t help you, maybe someone at customer service can help.”  Customer service, of course, is at the opposite end of the store. You make the long trek to the customer service desk, but the person behind the counter is new and doesn’t know where the flooring associate is.  He suggests that you go ask the supervisor on duty, up at the supervisor’s station near the front of the store.  You go the supervisor station, but she isn’t there.  You hover around for a few minutes before she returns, and once you explain waht you need she promptly calls a flooring associate for you.

It took multiple steps, and you’ve been passed from one person to another.  You feel like a football, and you don’t like it.

The first one to touch it becomes the CX owner

Our best practice is simple: when a customer approaches an employee with an issue, that employee owns the issue until it’s resolved.  We’ll call that first employee the CX owner.

The CX owner literally owns the customer’s issue until it’s resolved.  He’s not allowed to shrug his shoulders and say “sorry.” He can’t send the customer off to see someone else; he must walk with them to that next person and stay with them until things are resolved.  Whether the CX owner is a low-level worker or the CEO, he embraces the customer’s need as if it is his own until it has been addressed.

He owns it.

Why it’s good for the customer

The benefits to the customer are obvious.  The customer never feels abandoned. The customer doesn’t have to try and figure out how to navigate the internal workings of your organization, so he won’t be made to feel foolish or embarrassed. Best of all, the issue is now shared, not placed solely on the shoulders of the customer.

Why it’s good for the organization

Perhaps not as obvious are the benefits to the organization.  After all, it can be pretty disruptive for every employee to be at the beck and call of any customer who comes along.  What if the CX owner is a vice president on her way to an important meeting? What if the issue is a complicated one, taking many minutes or even hours to resolve?

A fundamental principle of customer experience design is that the organization exists to serve the needs and wants of its customers.  A customer who brings an issue to your company’s attention is clear communicating a need, so focusing on and addressing that need as quickly as possible can only help the organization.  When the CX owner takes ownership, he is communicating the organization’s commitment to the customer and helping to create the quickest, most satisfactory resolution.

The CX owner knows the company better, and can avoid the false starts and dead ends that the customer might encounter. The CX owner makes the whole process more efficient.

Help your team succeed

The presumption here is that the CX owner is well-equipped to help the customer solve his issue.  That won’t be true if you don’t prepare your team, so you must make “CX ownership” one of the first things you teach every new employee.  Make it clear that responding to customer issues is the organization’s top priority, and that every person in the company may be called upon to be a CX owner.  Teach your people to say, “I don’t have the answer for you, but come with me and we’ll go find the person who does.”

The concept is simple, and the implementation takes some effort.  The results, however, will be astonishing.


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