What’s a Customer Experience Manager, and why do you need one?

I often get asked, “What’s a Customer Experience Manager?” This role looks different in different organizations, from a completely hands-on role with customers (my type of role) to a “Voice of the Customer” role (analytics, Net Promoter-driven, etc). Here’s what it looks like for me. On my best days, I think I am literally the voice of the customer; on my worst days, I’m the person who has to tell the organization hard truths that not everyone is ready to hear.

I view my role as having three distinct parts: for the Marketing organization (my direct reporting line), I am an evangelist and chief demo-er, I provide analytics on users and usage, and I write copy and user content for in-product and support content, and for presentations. For the technology organization, I serve as the “chief Customer”, funneling customer requests, bugging problems, and being the power user of Gist inside the company. And for the CEO, I’m high-touch customer support, providing 3rd level customer support and executive hand-holding (“white-glove” customer service).

I use technology to enable solutions that solve my problems. One of the prime tools we use to improve customer support is Zendesk (http://zendesk.com.) In my role, I did a lot of the configuration and wrote much of the content on the http://support.gist.com site. I try not to be the first-line support and cherry-pick the difficult to solve and “angry customer” tickets so other colleagues can answer 80-90% of inbound tickets using Macros that we wrote to mass customize the support experience.

My typical day looks like this:

  • Triage overnight support requests – respond as appropriate
  • Triage overnight Twitter and Facebook traffic – respond as appropriate
  • (We have a team effort and pre-schedule about 3 twitter posts daily)
  • Check in on my VIP Customers (I do this by reviewing my Dashboard in Gist, tagged with VIP which shows me a list covering about 500 customers) – try to reach out to 3-5 of them daily through a phone call, email, tweet, or other method

I also work on ongoing projects, which might include:

  • designing or brainstorming a feature for a future Gist release
  • troubleshooting a detailed bug
  • building content for a webinar, blog post, or other purpose
  • Talk to customers ad-hoc (this probably happens at least 3-5 times a week, where I will set up a virtual meeting and walk through an issue with a customer) and analyzing and segmenting market data
  • Respond to ad-hoc inbound email, Twitter, Facebook, and email during the day

On average, I respond to about 20 VIPs, 50 email customers, and 50-75 Twitter customers a week. These are not necessarily discreet and this doesn’t count my Support ticket work (probably another 20-30 tickets a week).

So, call it 20-30 customer touches a day. If I just did support tickets I’d probably have more touches; if I just did relationship and introduction work there would be fewer contacts/day.

I report out my progress as follows:

  • We all send out a 3x weekly status: mine shares some quotes (Voice of the Customer), what I did, what I’m doing, where I need help and any kudos I share with the team, as well as interesting information/links I’ve found
  • I send out a weekly status report with a bit more detail and a dashboard detailing our VIP, Usability, Bug tickets and Active Bugs related to existing support tickets. I also try to provide some trend analysis and a bit of “big picture” thinking in this status report.
  • We do customer feedback sessions in our office about 1-2x/month where we bring people in to try the product, tell us what they think, and give us their opinion on what we’re doing – I own these along with our CEO, T.A. McCann.

So, who should fill a role like this?

The person needs:

  • Emotional intelligence and the desire and joy of being a “people person”;
  • Smarts + elbow grease;
  • A willingness to obey the 80/20 rule and not strive for perfection all of the time;
  • Ability to both be in the spotlight (face of the company) and to clean the floor (do many of the jobs that no one else wants to do);
  • Enough business acumen to be able to run the function, but enough humility to accept that it’s not always important to be right;
  • And the writing ability, general presence, and skills to be able to respond to, diffuse, and turn around any customer situation

It’s not a job for everyone, and I don’t think that I’m strictly filling a role of a community manager, product manager, customer service head, or chief problem-solver. I like to think that on my best day, I’m doing what every customer would do if he or she would do if they could speak directly to the part of the company that could solve their issue, answer their question, and make them into instant and lifelong brand advocates. If I do this job well enough and for long enough, I think I’ll be ready for and interested in running my own company. Currently, I’m just acting on behalf of the customer and trying to do the right thing.  If you want to make sure your customers get what they need, you probably need a Chief Customer too.


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