Who owns the user experience?

There are so many groups within organizations who will lay claim to this precious turf. As I have advocated since, well, 1996, the user experience is part of the overall customer experience. Therefore, I believe that the “owner” should be marketing. For who better to understand the customer than marketing?

I can see so many of my former colleagues bristling at this one.The thought of marketing owning the customer. Doesn’t the front line, customer service, the “voice of the customer”, don’t THEY own the customer experience?

But what about user experience teams. Surely in an organization that has a dedicated team, such as Citi or Experian, wouldn’t this team own the customer’s experience on the Web?

When I worked for Tom Bailey  at Janus, I once told him that I had to talk to my boss (the chief marketing officer) before deciding to change something on our customer facing website. In the words of Sam Walton, Tom said, “the customer is the boss.” “So listen to the customer and you’ll know what to do.”

Those words still ring true today. Just see Kmart vs Target, or GM vs.Toyota as prime examples…

What does this mean to you? Each group with customer contact gains insight from the customer in different ways and brings a unique perspective to the table. Therefore I’d recommend that you utilize cross-functional: teams, input, and decision making.

So put your ear to the ground, contribute, collaborate and consider this – the owner of the experience is indeed, the customer.

What do you think? How does this work in your organization?