If CX is so important for a ‘brand’ …. Why has ‘Experience Management’ lagged in management teaching and practices?

I have often wondered why there are no specialized subjects or courses in management schools around Customer Experience Management – given the potential impact that a holistic understanding and expertise in this area can have on brand value, profitability, and the success of an organization or a public service delivery governance system.

Management subjects get developed and taught at management schools following the creation of a pool of specialized knowledge and literature, case studies, and end-use adoption/application. In the Industrial age, management knowledge around production planning, labor management, inventory planning, resource planning, quality management, etc., developed. Knowledge pools built up leading to dissemination through books, knowledge-sharing forums (seminars, workshops, etc.), and eventually through teaching as a subject at management schools. Courseware developed with more case studies found increased adoption in the actual workplace. Since the pace of change of the industrial era was relatively slow, the process of knowledge development and education integration had time to evolve/iterate and mature.

With globalization and increased competition bringing in quicker product obsolescence, there came the need for swift product distribution and complex multinational organizational management. Management subject development and teachings around these areas also followed. While the Service Economy has been developing adjacent to the industrial economy – first as an ‘after-sales’ appendage to products to now ‘service as a product’.

Earlier, when customers bought products to serve a particular need of theirs, they had to handle everything themselves to make the product deliver the value they were seeking, e.g., understanding the product features, setup, maintenance, operation, etc. To address the latent need gap of ease of product use and time-saving for customers, ‘service bundling’ came up that offered the product (sometimes even multiple products) as a ‘solution offering’ to different customer segments. This has now become a significant part of the ‘service economy’. The ‘overall experience’ management of the service delivery is now paramount to brand/organizational effectiveness and needs a deeper management understanding of measurement and control levers of the ‘experience’ matrix.

So the question remains: why is ‘Experience Management’ not accelerating in the management schools curriculum as a specialization or management mainstream subject? I believe it is a ‘demand–supply’ gap between organizations and academia. While there has been very rich academic work done on various aspects of Experience Management by academics across the globe and excellent usable models have been developed, adoption of these in organizations is still very scanty. Usage, case studies around these in practices are still far and few in between. Why is this so? My analysis on this is that the ‘vertical’ functional specialization nature of current organizational structure creates a challenge for any new cross-vertical management practice introduction (like Customer Experience Management) and adoption. Typical challenges of organizational change management have to be understood and overcome. It needs an organizational leader – typically the CEO (but it could also be the CMO/CRM Head in the organization) who understands and passionately believes in the business benefits of ‘Customer Experience’ delivery capabilities of the organization and has the ability to drive through this change. There are not too many business leaders who are using Experience Management as the key pillar for their brand/business strategy e.g., Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines), Tony Hsieh (Zappos) are just a few owner-founders who built their large business fortune on the back of comprehensive Customer Experience Management practices and delivery. This has meant fragmentation of different aspects of Experience Management – e.g., contact management, touchpoint process management, customer segmentation and analytics, etc., making each an independent subject of specialization. There is a need for some forward-thinking management school to invest and weave different aspects of Customer Experience elements into specialized courseware and offer it to industry/public delivery organizations. Tabulating the subsequent success and changes this brings out to business and citizen delivery services will accelerate the demand for such a management specialization.

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