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Should any retail executive “own” customer experience?

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Bridget Fahrland of Astound Commerce is very familiar with the ongoing debate about who in retail should own the customer experience.

And she has an answer: no one.

OK, so maybe not no one at all, but it got you thinking, didn’t it? Fahrland, Astound’s head of digital strategy, met up with me at IRCE in Chicago this week to share her thinking on customer experience in the brief video interview below.

In our extended conversation (as in not part of the video), Fahrland explained that ecommerce success isn’t really about “ownership,” it’s more about ensuring that different parts of a retail organization are working toward the same goal, that they’re communicating and that they’re collaborating.

Her message was not a call to abandon responsibility. That would be lunacy. Instead, she was providing a warning about hewing too closely to the strict meaning of “own.”

Maybe “own” isn’t what we really mean

Words matter, of course, so maybe “own” isn’t the best to describe the person or small team that should oversee customer experience. If owning is the source of competition and turf wars, if owning results in data and information silos, then obviously ownership needs to be put on the shelf.

Still, I’d argue that someone needs to be in charge to make sure every team’s efforts are working toward a consistent customer experience and a consistent message in talking to and relating to customers. But that someone or somebodies need to be more like an orchestra conductor than a drill sergeant.

As we talked further, Fahrland explained that getting the customer experience right requires collaboration among an organization’s teams. Each has something to offer.

It’s about bringing your expertise

“It’s about collaboration. It’s about sharing research together,” Fahrland said. “There is research that marketing can bring to the table about what customers are doing, their profiles. There is research that ecom can bring to the table about how their customers are moving through the site or the app.”

The two sure things in all the debate and discussion is that figuring out customer experience and getting it right is not going away any time soon. In fact, mark that down for never. And retail, it seems, is the ultimate team sport.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].