2021 started as a hopeful return to “normal” business conditions. Manufacturing, Logistics, and Transportation leaders hoped for COVID’s effects to slowly bleed away and be replaced by conditions similar to the early part of 2019. Instead, COVID variants, inflation, supply chain disruptions, inconsistent government policies, and hiring difficulties took center stage.
Despite the chaotic business environment, three manufacturing firms chose to expand, not contract, their Customer Experience (CX) hiring. To understand how the business conditions affected (CX) hiring within select manufacturing companies, I turned to a proprietary Gartner data source, TalentNeuron. I researched how CX teams prioritized their hiring and Job Description (JD) tasks through the first ten months of 2021. My approach selected three leading global manufacturing firms (combined ~$70B in 2020 revenue) to analyze. These three organizations have strong similarity in products, services, technology, and global commercial presence which makes a side-by-side comparison relevant. My goal was to learn and translate lessons on how three manufacturing firms adapted their CX hiring to respond to the commercial conditions of 2021.
Analysis Methodology. Gartner’s proprietary database, TalentNeuron, can identify, capture, detail, and store publicly posted roles and job descriptions. From January 2021 to October 2021, the three manufacturing companies (categorized as Co A, Co B, and Co C for privacy) hired approximately 120 Marketing roles with “Customer Experience”, “CX”, or “experience” in the title. Next, I disassembled the job descriptions into CX key words (i.e., strategy, survey, journey map, etc.) and categorized the key words into the nine Gartner Customer Experience Management (CXM) Framework categories (see Figure 1). Finally, I created primary and secondary job functions for the CX roles. The primary and secondary job responsibilities account for ~60% of role responsibilities in the CX job description.
Figure 1: Gartner’s Customer Experience Management (CXM) Framework
Manufacturing CX Organization Insight #1 – Hiring for Strategy & Metrics Tasks Dominated 2021. Each of the three organizations had a unique hiring approach to their 2021 primary CX role functions:
- Company A focus: Metrics.
- Company B focus: Metrics and Strategy
- Company C focus: Strategy and Technology
Figure 2: Manufacturing CX Team Organizations: Three Approaches to Primary CX Job Functions (Positions Hired Jan-Oct 2021)
CX Hiring Recommendation: The focus on Metrics & Technology coupled with Strategy was a consistent CX hiring theme in 2021. Companies had fewer personal connections with customers and, as a substitute, companies looked to put in place systems to better measure and understand what the customer was experiencing with their organizations. The use of metrics alongside technology and strategy is a consistent and recommended way to check and track the customer journey when traditional intrapersonal sources of feedback are not available.
Manufacturing CX Insight #2 – A Focus on Expanding CX Roles to Multiple Locations Was a Key Initiative By Company A. The three manufacturing companies hired for the following locations:
- Company A: 58 Locations
- Company B: 02 Locations
- Company C: 02 Locations
Figure 3: Manufacturing – Primary CX Job Description Function with Number of Job Locations (Hired Jan-Oct 2021)
CX Hiring Recommendation: Company A pursued a CX strategy to expand the measurement and analysis of customer journey activity and customer interactions at 58 locations. The use of CX Metrics at 58 separate locations helped the organization better understand by location, customer, and business unit how the delivered CX assists the customer journey. Co B and Co C formed a foundation of metrics and technology at headquarter locations that could later expand to mirror Co A’s hiring approach.
Manufacturing CX Insight #3 – A Continued View of the Customer and Capturing the Customer Voice Was Missing in 2021. The three Manufacturing companies were all consistent in their LEAST hired CX skill sets (employing the Gartner Customer Experience Management Framework):
- 1st Least Hired CX Skill Set: 1 – Voice of the Customer (3 of 3)
- 2nd Least Hired CX Skill Set: 8 – Customer-centric Culture (3 of 3)
- 3rd Least Hired CX Skill Set: 5 – Personas & Journey (2 of 3)
Figure 4: Least Hired CX Skill Sets in 2021 By Co A, Co B, and Co C
CX Hiring Recommendation: Just as 2021 continued to change business and societal conditions, customers also continue to adapt to how they want to conduct commercial interactions with an organization. Continuously and consistently capturing VoC, developing employee skill sets to build a customer-centric culture, and consistently reviewing customer feedback to improve customer journeys are ongoing CX requirements.
Focus 2022 CX Hiring On An Equal Distribution of CX Functions, Especially Customer Research and Customer Insight: 2022 will continue to be a challenging business landscape for Manufacturing. Manufacturing organizations planning and hiring for CX roles in 2022 must examine their existing CX skill sets with a strong focus on VoC, Customer Research, and Customer Insight functions. CX needs to lead the organization in placing the customer at the center of the organization to effectively translate customer insight to desired customer action.
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