Digital customer experience is fast becoming a key business differentiator, with those responsible for the digital development and delivery being challenged to achieve the best digital initiatives to support their company, but in many organisations the key factors for a truly successful, transformational strategy; Brand, Technology, Customer Experience and Employee Engagement, do not always come together.  To deliver a truly effective Digital Customer Service, who should own the Digital Experience?

Hannah-Louise Cox, one of Douglas Jackson’s Senior Consultants, Multi-Channel Experience Specialist and Judge at the Digital Experience Awards was recently involved in a LinkedIn Discussion; ‘Who Does the Digital Head of Customer Service Report to?

Richard McCrossan, Strategic Business Director at Genesys, asked the question, adding:  ‘Traditionally customer service was a contact centre role, which most likely rolled up to the CIO most. With digital, there are more parties involved, marketing has a huge influence, but what does the org-chart look like?’

Here is a snap shot of some of the responses from the feed, the full discussion can be found by here, with Hannah’s own thoughts and views from her experience in the Digital Customer Service market:

Who should own the Digital Experience?
‘This would depend on what the digital strategy is within a business, and how much digital is used as a route to market;  In the last few years, the team at Douglas Jackson and I have seen a wide variety of reporting lines and organisational structures for the Digital assignments we have been asked to deliver; An organisation where the digital customer communication is central to all business activity, may report into a Digital Director, who then reports into a Customer Services Director, or, Chief Customer Officer (CCO).   Where the digital channel is utilised less frequently, the position may report into a Head of Customer Service, or dependant on the size of company, a Sales and or, Marketing Director’.

With the promotion of more collaborative and engaged work forces, it is highly possible to have this role working very effectively within a few different business areas, and having a strong influence cross functionally but for a truly joined up and effective strategy, I believe, there does need to be one board level appointment who oversees all Customer Service/Experience across all channels, such as the CCO.’

Martin Hills-Wilson – Customer Service, Customer Experience & Social Business Strategist – added:

If the top of the tree has to be a Cx title then either CCO or COO would make better sense. When you mention CIO for traditional, I assume you include a Director of Operations as a direct report who usually leads CS (or at least the contact centre part of it.)  But another way I’m answering this in the social customer service masterclasses is to tell the following story to get imaginations working.

“In the future, there will only be one team. The customer team. One boss, one budget, one set of goals. Everyone who joins is inducted into three core competencies. Marketing, Sales, and Service. All are explored within the context of the customer lifecycle ( I can see the training now). Thereafter, they can specialise in any of those disciples or mashups. This is one way to cause the necessary alignment and eliminate the current issues which I’m not sure a change in Cx reporting will achieve.


Alex Mead – Director of Customer Experience:
‘To me, the new commonly found job title of Head of Digital Customer Service, is like the change in job title made a few years back from Head of Call Centre to Head of Contact Centre. I think that any company that doesn’t allow customers to utilise all channels, any time they want, and most importantly be able to carry on their conversations seamlessly at any time across multiple channels (convergence !), is asking for trouble. A Call Centre without a web channel, or a website, or, mobile app without a phone number is never a good experience. As to who they report into??? Should be a Chief Customer Officer, on the Board, but unfortunately that is still very rare.

So – Are there any particular trends in the market?
Back to Hannah:
‘This may also be industry specific; more technology based industries, which Richard refers too, may very well have this role eventually reporting into a CIO, whereas, more regulated industries such as financial services, utilities and telecommunications may see this report, as previously mentioned, lining into a Chief Customer Officer.

Digital can also mean very different things, dependant on the business and who you talk too; is it Marketing, Communications,  IT, Customer Service, or, as Martin points out, should it be a one team, one customer approach with everyone working in collaboration?

That was a very long way round to saying that there are a multitude of answers to this!

One thing is certain – many of those industries and organisations who are not yet doing digital communication very well, are evolving! Digital communication, or much more of it, is the future, with many organisations presently embracing digital and customer centric change as consumer behaviour continues to evolve and shift at a rate of knots.  We only recently featured the Future Skills of the Contact Centre, which was shortly followed by an actual survey on What Contact Centres are Doing Right Now by Call Centre Helper, which saw a big difference in what is to come and what is still happening, when we look at current customer channel behaviours.


So what does all this mean for the customer…?
Ultimately; digital, multi, omni-channel, it all reverts back to the customer and what the customer wants.
In my mind, I would place a Head of Digital Customer Service somewhere underneath a CCO, CX Director, or, Customer Services Director, who would sit on the board. This would be especially so, for those industries who need to ‘be seen’ to be putting the customer first; Financial Services (having been through the mill in recent years), and the water industry (with deregulation of the industry imminent).  We are already seeing both these sectors developing transformational, customer centric and also digital change right now.

However, companies are different.  Being able to deliver a joined up customer approach, involving all employees, regardless of culture and strategy, whilst delivering efficiencies and benefits is the ultimate goal for all and will underpin the overall structure and operational effectiveness.

With the promotion of more collaborative and engaged work forces, it is highly possible to have this role working very effectively within a few different business areas, and having a strong influence cross functionally.
As such, there may be a Head of Customer Service, a Head of Telephony, and a Head of Digital all  reporting in to one central role.

In conclusion…
It is interesting to read some opinions on customer contact strategy and the view that this may be led by marketing in years to come.  Digital development, no doubt adds to that argument, however, the marketing community is also being challenged by the dynamic nature of customer behaviour.  How to effectively deliver engagement and customer satisfaction in place of  promotions, is a key focus right now and Marketers need to step outside of their comfort-zone and natural skill set to keep up.

Perhaps the future will bring a brand new role which will bridge the gap between digital marketing and digital customer contact?  What do you think?

Please let us have your thoughts and comments by posting them here.  If you would like to speak with Hannah about your Digital career, or strategy, Hannah will be at the Digital Experience Awards next week, or you can contact Hannah, or, any of the team at Douglas Jackson on:, or Tel: 0845 620 9720.

Hannah CoxHannah Louise Cox is a Head-hunter and Specialist Recruitment Consultant at Douglas Jackson. As a senior Consultant within the business, Hannah has been involved with many successful pieces of work in the digital and multi-channel customer experience arena. Hannah is currently helping organisations to shape their customer strategies by placing key individuals within these business areas. Hannah is proud to have worked with prestigious UK and global brands, as well as national and international blue chip corporations.

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