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In the modern SaaS landscape, the two paths of Customer Success and Customer Experience (CX) – although closely related – have slowly but surely diverged. While customer success programs tend to focus more and more on the business aspects of customers (onboarding, training, ongoing success, upsells, cross-sells, etc.), customer experience has become a small yet crucial part of a customer’s overall success.
Customer experience is, in short, a combination of every single interaction and engagement a customer has with a company, from the first sales call to ongoing enablement touchpoints. Every single engagement is some kind of experience, and how customers are left feeling after these interactions is what influences their ongoing success with a vendor.
Because customer experience is such a critical part of the customer success metric, many businesses are expanding their teams to include a VP of Customer Experience alongside other executive team members from customer success. Similar to the way having a voice for customer success on an executive team is critical to make customer success a priority across an organization, so too is it important to make the customer experience something that every single department is aware of and working towards.
And, since customer experience is often influenced by multiple departments (including sales, marketing, and even finance) having this executive presence ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Now that you understand why having a VP of Customer Experience on your team is so critical, here are a few must-have points in your job description to find the perfect candidate for the position:
First and foremost, your VP of Customer Experience candidate should have a true passion for customers, customer success, and the product you are selling. It will quickly become extremely obvious to customers if there is an executive who isn’t 100% on board with a company’s mission, vision, goals, and success metrics. Make sure your candidate understands what a successful customer looks and feels like to the organization.
As a VP of Customer Experience, this candidate will have to deal with plenty of customer issues, both planned and unplanned. Together with the executive representative from Client Success (typically a c-level position), the VP of Customer Experience is responsible for ensuring positive, mutually beneficial interactions between clients and an internal team. If these engagements turn sour, that should be the VP of Customer Experience’s time to really shine.
Customer experience as a function isn’t reserved solely for Customer Success Managers or those people on a services team. Experiences happen at every single customer touchpoint, starting with sales and marketing through onboarding and training and even to finance and accounting. Your VP of Customer Experience should have experience working with multiple departments across an organization to ensure that every single department – no matter how ‘removed’ they are from customers – are aware of and dedicated to the goals of the customer experience team.
Many times, the issues facing a VP of Customer Experience aren’t going to be cut-and-dry. Executives from client organizations, product owners, CSMs, and even internal executives will likely be involved and will be trying to give their two cents for every problem that arises. One of the biggest assets a VP of Customer Experience should have is the ability to hear everyone’s opinions while making a clear, focused decision that doesn’t lean too far in one direction. A leading candidate should be creative, thoughtful, and able to juggle multiple opinions without getting overwhelmed.
If focusing on the client experience as a specific subset of customer success is new to your organization, don’t worry. While customer experience isn’t something you can magically grow from the ground-up overnight, having the right person in place to spearhead this initiative will help things run smoothly for both your internal team and your customers.