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Who really owns the customer experience and why you should care.

I recently spotted some new research from Salesforce, which might be welcome news for marketers but should send a shiver down the spine of anyone involved in running a contact centre.

Why? The research, which discovered that 88% of UK marketers plan to increase or maintain their marketing budgets for 2015, also found that marketers are increasingly shifting their focus into new territories, including customer experience, journey mapping and social media engagement.

If your marketing department has not already ventured into contact centre territory then you can certainly expect this to happen in the very near future. The big question you should be asking yourself is whether your contact centre is ready?

As Scott McCorkle, Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s CEO advises, “The future of marketing is building cohesive customer journeys across sales, service and marketing interactions. It is more important than ever to connect with each person interacting with your brand, and personalise journeys based on their actions and preferences.”

The report confirms that 86% of senior-level marketers believe it is now critical to “create a cohesive customer journey across all touch points”, using mobile apps, analytics tools and CRM as part of the process. I wonder if the same proportion of senior-level contact centre decision makers would be in a position to agree, given that channels are often managed discretely with little understanding of what is driving contact on each channel.

The ground swell amongst marketers is undeniable. Gartner’s research late in 2014 not only found that the highest marketing technology investment is for customer experience. It also highlighted that customer experience is considered by many companies to be the top innovation project, just edging out product innovation.

I have blogged before about the blurring of the lines between the contact centre industry and marketing. But it remains to be seen which department will claim ultimate ownership of the customer journey.

Of course, in reality the marketing department and the contact centre really should be natural bedfellows, rather than 'frenemies'. But one function can be led by the emotive and aspirational elements of the customer experience whilst the other is by necessity driven by cost, policy and often a silo’d view of channels driven by metrics and accountabilities.

Whichever way you look at it, this latest trend represents the biggest opportunity yet for your contact centre to demonstrate its strategic value to your organisation.

If you are as excited by this opportunity as I am, then there are a few steps you should be taking:

  1. Start a conversation with your marketing department. Talk about how you can work together to personalise customer journeys based on your customer’s actions and preferences.
  2. Be open about current constraints and limitations within a given channel – it is easier to plan a journey when you know where the jams are and their causes.
  3. Break down the barriers - Make sure you have a joined up multichannel strategy in place and are well on your way to delivering a single view of customer contacts across all channels.
  4. Become an expert in customer journey mapping (more of this in a future blog).

If you are on your way to achieving these goals, then your value to your brand’s marketing department will be immense. And, not to put too fine a point on it, your career trajectory will be guaranteed.