Customer experience

Customer Experience Insights with Tom DeWitt

AskNicely Team

In a recent episode of the Frontline Magic podcast, host and frontline evangelist Susanne Axelsson sits with Tom DeWitt, Director of CXM@MSU and a fixed-term faculty member in the Department of Marketing of the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. 

Tom’s life work is dedicated to advancing customer experience management globally by helping formalize and develop a framework for the field. For more than a decade he has provided customer experience management solutions to organizations and audiences around the world through consulting, workshops and presentations. 

Prior to joining academia, Tom enjoyed a career in the hospitality industry (a green flag for anyone working in CX), where he served in senior management roles in the USA and Asia. So in short, he has a wealth of experience to bring to the table. 

During the podcast, Tom shares his journey into the CX space, discusses the critical need for EX and CX alignment, and delves into the evolving landscape of customer experience.

There is so much wisdom jammed into this 30 minute episode, let’s dive into the good stuff! 

A Lifelong Journey into CX

Tom’s journey into the world of customer experience began at the age of 14 when he worked as a busboy and dishwasher in a restaurant. His quick promotion to grill cook, where he interacted directly with customers, sparked his passion for making people happy. He recalled this pivotal moment, saying, "I learned down in there that I can make an impact. I could make people happy. And that was the beginning of my journey." This experience laid the foundation for his lifelong career in the hospitality industry and eventually led him to formalize his expertise with an MBA and a Ph.D. in services marketing.

The Birth of a CX Master's Program

As Tom continued his research and networked within the CX community, he discovered a glaring gap in the educational landscape. He noted, "If you do a search on LinkedIn like I do, and you put in people and you put in customer experience, it's over, I think last time I checked, 19 million people." Despite the global presence of millions of CX professionals, there were no undergraduate or graduate-level degree programs in the United States dedicated to CX. This fragmentation in the CX field, with professionals coming from diverse backgrounds and limited comprehensive training, raised concerns about the effectiveness of CX initiatives.

The EX/CX Connection 

Tom explains that for CX initiatives to succeed, they require a multidisciplinary and managed approach. He stressed, "CX alone fails. Close to 90% of organizations globally want to make customer experience an imperative, but fewer than 25% of organizations that try to implement CX actually succeed." Many organizations struggle with alignment, often due to a lack of understanding and cohesion between the frontline employee experience and the customer experience.  

Tom believes that successful CX requires a profound connection between brand, culture, EX and CX. He stated, "To me, brand alignment is a perfect definition for customer experience management because it helps to position it." An effective CX program should not be seen as an add-on but rather as a reflection of the organization's core values and value proposition. Each and every employee should be on board with that mission and know exactly what they can do each day to contribute to it. When companies are unable to see how important his connection is, CX initiatives are bound to fail. 

The Role of Governance in CX

Addressing the need for effective governance structures in CX, Tom shares insights on ‘action teams’. He explained, "The best form of governance involves action teams that are focused on core CX competencies." These teams bridge the gap between strategic decision-making and day-to-day implementation. By breaking down silos and promoting collaboration, action teams ensure that CX initiatives are integrated into all aspects of an organization.

In Tom’s journey from a busboy to the founder of the pioneering CX Master's program at Michigan University, Tom recognizes the pressing need for comprehensive CX education in a field that continues to grow exponentially. By understanding the importance of the EX & CX connection, and truly embodying a culture of customer centricity, organizations can embark on a journey to truly delight every customer every time. 

Listen to the full podcast episode here. 

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

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