Explore the potential for benefits in collaborations between CI and customer experience teams.

Michael Diaz, Founder and Principal, Growth Canvas Consulting, delivered a compelling presentation to Aurora WDC’s RECONVERGE symposium participants as part of Tuesday afternoon’s programming.

He began his remarks using the example of United Airlines in which empowered customers reported on a flight situation; we can use this as an illustration of the negative power a poor customer experience may have.

On the flip side, Delta had a situation that they handled two years ago with great success.

Customer experience, then, can be a very powerful thing, and this has implications for CI.

There has been a rapid expansion of customer experience programs in C-Suite positions. A survey shows that 15% had such involvement in 2015, compared to 80%+ that have currently implemented such programs.

Considering budgets, 500K-one million dollars spent on this endeavor is not unusual. Even more significant is the growth noted: Seven percent of companies had doubled the size of the customer experience program in the budget.

CI/MI programs show a trend in which marketing has played a role–there has been an overall trend of customer experience reporting to marketing. But what Diaz finds interesting is that there is not a large history of CI professionals participating in such programs.

This is a situation, then, during which there have been two separate functions reporting to marketing.

The combination of customer experience and CI is critical in times of disruption, notes Diaz. Early warning needs to be identified in the customer experience.

The opportunity for CI/MI teams is that they can become “the peanut butter cup” of external research for companies.

Consumers are frequently barraged by surveys and CI pros have many research capabilities necessary to glean relevant information. Customer experience at present churns out survey data, but unstructured data sources will be important in working with diverse data sources to draw useful conclusions, and this skill offers potential to find insight. Elicitation can be leveraged, CI pros can help develop accurate questionnaires, and potential exists to bring the voice of the customer together from interviews being conducted in various places.

Partnerships can exist with customers, and it would be unfortunate should data be collected on the customer experience perspective and not shared with those in CI.

Persona development key question is “who is the customer going to be in 5-10 years? How will the organization be different? How will the decision maker be different? This will be helpful to determine customer needs, but provide a forward glimpse in customer demand.

The customer journey map is useful for CI practitioners who will “plug into” it. Do not assume the customer journey is a constant or static situation; it is also vulnerable to disruption.

Diaz sees a win-win potential in collaborations between CI groups and the customer experience team: ability to align research efforts around specific objectives, leverage resources, balance optimization with transformation, jointly pursue quick wins, and collaborations will produce combined dashboard reports and briefings to reveal strategic insight as well as customer experience insights.

Both teams, then, can experience significant improvements and enjoy benefits of collaboration.


  • Stay focused
  • Avoid short-term tactical bias
  • Create a true win-win partnership
  • Build relationships
  • Measure results and communicate value

How to get started:

  • Research agendas
  • Knowledge management
  • Joint information products or presentations
  • Leverage customer experience tools and frameworks