The increased focused on customer experience has brought design into more businesses than ever before. Unfortunately, there is still a tendency to see experience design as just another marketing function.

If you want to maximise the returns from customer experience design, you need to move it out of marketing. As long as the customer experience function lives inside the marketing (including branding, advertising, and PR), its full potential to your organisation will never be realised.

Marketing speaks primarily to the outside world; to potential customers. Marketing is exciting and glamourous, and necessarily focused on looking and sounding good. Marketing is primarily about ideals, potential, and promise; full of vague feel-goods and motivations.

Operations, on the other hand, is where all your customers (new and existing) experience your organisation. Operations is where good experienced truly matters. It still astounds me that so many leaders don’t seem get this. Or they prefer to buy into the marketing version of customer experience. Because it is easier and more exciting.

The day-to-day real customer experience of many organisations can range from adequate to downright terrible. The artefacts of customer engagement (forms, documents, web applications, processes and systems) can look and feel like they have been scraped together by the people doing the work, and not designed consciously with any big picture strategy in mind.

Delivering on promises is of course bloody hard work (and who would have thought otherwise?!) Every broken process, confusing instruction, conflicting rule, delayed delivery, missed order, dismissed complaint, erodes your customer experience. Customers who are spending money with you rightly expects a reasonable semblance of what you promise through your marketing.

Operations is not glamorous, You have to do the hard work, the boring work, the repetitive work to keep customers serviced and happy. You can’t suddenly refresh your operations like you do a marketing campaign, or your logo. Not without incurring significant costs.

Hiring more marketing resources to improve customer experience is a warning sign, not a solution. It signals a fundamental lack of understanding about experience design, and demonstrates a greater emphasis on talking the talk instead of walking the walk.

Where does your organisation’s customer experience function sit?

Is it primarily directed outwards through marketing? Or are you actually doing the hard work by infusing it into your operations?

Gap analysis:
Do you know how different the experience of an existing customer is vs that of a new customer?
What are potential customers being promised?
How close does your operations come to delivering those promises?

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