When Nancy Porte spoke at the Influitive Live virtual summit a few weeks ago, she admitted it was not the first time she had taken part in a panel focused around the question of “Who owns the customer?”
As the VP of Global CX at software firm Verint, Porte pointed out that it’s a question that has been asked since her first customer experience job. The tone of the conversation, however, has shifted a lot since the early days of her career.
“The difference (years ago) was that nobody wanted to own the customer,” said Porte, whose background includes stints in CX at Monster and CareerBuilder. “I actually remember working with someone who said, ‘I want to go to marketing because I don’t want to have to talk to customers.’”
The situation was similar in sales, she said, where the objective was to “get new logos, then throw them over the transom” and hope they were properly taken care of by customer service teams.
“I remember another job where we had outgrown our space and someone suggested that our department get moved off site, because we were so disconnected from the rest of the organization,” she said. “(CX) wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t cool. It was ‘those people over there.’”
Today, of course, the opposite is often true, where everyone from sales to marketing and beyond wants to play a lead role in cultivating customer relationships. At the same time, CX roles have become more defined and the mandate of such teams has expanded.
At Huntington, NY-based Verint, which provides customer engagement and cyber intelligence applications, Porte said her department started out managing customer analytics, including the collection of satisfaction and loyalty data, then grew to include advocacy programs (which Influitive’s platform helps manage). Now, Porte said her CX team is also responsible for nurturing and recruiting advocates, as well as customer engagement programs.
Design Plus Execution
While “owning” the customer sometimes looks like a battle between various lines of business, Porte suggested an alternative approach that demarcates those with particular strengths and resources.
“There are partners in ownership. There is the owner of the design of the CX and the owner of the execution. It’s very hard to do both at one time,” she said.
Porte’s team, for instance, leads design by sharing the data around customer expectations in each step of the journey with the appropriate department.
“It’s almost being that internal consultant, where we journey map, or look at process realignment. We serve as that design owner,” she said. “The execution at the interaction level is by the operational department. They certainly own that, and they have the relationship with the customer.”
Keeping An Eye Out For Impact
That said, Porte emphasized that there’s no part of the cycle where she would be considered “hands off” from a CX perspective. She recommended making sure to not only study all areas where a company interacts with customers but all the areas that might have an impact on them. Even a billing department, for instance, might be the cause of problems that need to be addressed.
It takes time to get good that this, Porte added, noting that Verint was like many firms in figuring out its CX strategy.
“We started with ‘find and fix,’ or looking for things that might frustrate and annoy customers, she said. “We got good at that but then really had to look at the whole process. We got to the point of proactive engagement to make the relationship work. That led to advocacy, and we added a team that does proactive engagement around programs. It was a maturity sequence we hd to go through to get past just fixing stuff.”
The Influtive Live panel — which also features executives from PowerDMS, Docebo and PointClickCare — is well worth watching in its entirety, as are other sessions from the conference, which are available for free on-demand.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.