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A competency center for the rest of us

I’m sorry, but I can’t hear a phrase ending in "the rest of us" without thinking of Festivus…oh, how Seinfeld has changed our lives! But that’s a whole different post.

Today I am writing about Customer Experience Competency Centers. That’s right, the CECC’s you’ve all been hearing so much about. What? You haven’t heard of this? Well, that’s probably because the term has not (yet!) taken the business world by storm.

I was invited to present a session at Clarabridge’s user conference, C3, this week. As a side note, if you are serious about mining unstructured text for customer insights, you have to talk to Clarabridge. The topic for my session was "Creating a Customer Experience Competency Center within an Organization." I have to admit, I was a bit stumped at first. I had heard the term "competency center" a couple times but had no idea what it meant, and I definitely had never heard of one related to customer experience. To my relief, it was not a commonly understood term in the CEM world, which would have been embarrassing for me not to know.

I’m hesitant to enter another buzzword into an already crowded canon of business buzzwords and fads. However, the brain trust behind the C3 program was definitely on to something with this topic. As I researched and thought about the concept, I realized the customer experience management field can use this idea.

So, here’s my working definition of a Customer Experience Competency Center:

A cross-functional unit within an organization that drives and supports its customer experience management efforts through the collection, integration, analysis, communication, and delivery of customer information.

Still a little vague? Well, it is a working definition. In essence, it’s the entity responsible for pushing your organization towards ever-increasing customer-centricity by ensuring that every decision is informed by the customer perspective.

Granted, this is not a totally new concept, and many great, customer-centric companies already have cross-functional teams that do some of this. However, I think there is a place for something a little bigger, grander, and more impactful than we’ve traditionally seen. If customer-centricity is truly a key competitive differentiator, then our organizations and their stakeholders deserve a formalized structure dedicated to ensuring that all our customer information is turned into the insights and intelligence necessary to create and sustain that competitive advantage.

In future postings I’ll talk more about the details of this concept, but I’m interested in any feedback on the idea, good or bad. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about competency centers in general, follow these links to see how IBM and Oracle, SAP, and SAS are implementing them to ensure customers get the full value from their products and solutions.

Troy Powell, Ph.D.
VP, Statistical Solutions
Walker Information

0 thoughts on “A competency center for the rest of us

  1. A reader asks me what size of firm this intended for. My answer: you paint a vision for very large organizations, but firms with as few as 50 employees would find this a useful approach. What are you recommendations?

  2. The ideas behind the customer experience competency center are useful for any company that is struggling to make decisions that continuosly improve the customer experience. And frankly, there are not many companies of any size that have nailed that goal. However, large enterprises – companies with multiple BUs and multiple offices across the country or the world – will find a full, formalized competency center to be more valuable and cost-effective than smaller organizations.

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