November 5, 2013
Last month, I delivered a webinar about digital CX teams in the post-PC era. I described the importance of having a clear strategy for the digital customer experience and how it should align with the overall customer experience vision in nondigital touchpoints. I shared examples of how companies hire and train essential in-house skills like journey mapping and storytelling to avoid overreliance on partners. And I talked about how companies should take an ecosystem approach to organizing their digital resources. There were some great questions posed during the call, and I wanted to answer them here.
Q. What is the typical team structure of a post-PC CX team?
A. There is no one standard model for digital CX teams — we see a variety of different structures. Some teams, like the one at Target, are quite large and encompass many disciplines and skills. Others, like the team at Express Scripts, are smaller and focus more on the high-level vision and orchestration of projects.
What is consistent across teams is that they build strong connections with key stakeholders throughout the company. Teams actively foster collaboration and skills development both within the team and with key partners inside and outside of their organizations. Many teams provide career paths for individual contributors and mentors for junior team members by promoting strong performers to manage subteams within the larger digital CX team.
Q. What specific roles in a CX team are typical?
A. Typical roles include:
- Digital strategists.
- Interaction designers.
- User interface designers.
- UX designers.
- Visual designers.
- Experience designers.
- UX researchers.
- Usability specialists.
- Business liaisons.
Teams also place an emphasis on skills that are not limited to one role, such as journey mapping, storytelling, facilitation, prototyping, and research methods.
Q. Can you describe more about the versatility required in individuals on a digital CX team, AKA the Bo Jackson corollary?
A. Companies should look for digital CX team members as versatile as former football and baseball all-star Bo Jackson. For example, look for interaction designers who are also well versed in user research. Companies like Target and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) intentionally seek individuals with demonstrated interests and aptitudes for acquiring multiple skills, and then they help them cultivate new skills. As digital experiences grow more complex, flexibility and a growth mindset among team members become more important.
Q. What is the difference between the business liaison and the product manager role?
A. Great question — I don’t yet have a definitive answer. Many product managers act as business liaisons as part of their role. The companies I interviewed used business liaisons to ensure that the entire digital experience aligned with business objectives, rather than focusing on one specific product or service as a product manager might.
On a related note, I’m about halfway through Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love, by Marty Cagan, which is a fascinating treatment of the product manager role in the digital age, with a particular focus on its relevance for creating better customer experiences.
Q. How are digital CX teams utilizing customer journey maps?
A. Successful digital CX teams emphasize the importance of customer journey mapping as a core skill. Teams use journey maps at the beginning of projects to understand the current-state experience and to identify the root causes for experience failures. My colleague Jonathan Browne has written extensively about the many uses of journey maps.
Q. How are content strategy and CX teams integrated and organized?
A. The content strategist is a critical role in creating unified post-PC digital experiences — but in my research, I didn’t find them in the digital CX teams we spoke with. Digital CX teams were collaborating with digital strategists to align their experience strategy with the content strategy. Incidentally, I have found Kristina Halvorson’s book, Content Strategy For The Web, to be a useful resource.
I share more detail on these topics in my recent report, "Digital CX Teams In The Post-PC Era," and include recommendations on how to evolve your digital CX teams over the long term. Please post any additional thoughts or questions in the comments sections below.