Time and time again, the issue of where a customer engagement team should live within an organization comes up. Sometimes called the customer success team, this group is the central hub for all things related to the customer experience. Recently one of our clients, a start-up, was attempting to answer this pressing and important question in preparation for growth and expansion of its customer base. Their ultimate goal? To deliver a solid client experience.

Happy customers require care and attention. For customers to be successful with your products and solutions, the placement of the team that looks after them deserves careful consideration. Yes, various teams will touch the customer at several points in their journey. But, for that very reason, there needs to be a single team responsible for delivering a consistent experience to the customer.

A recent Sirius Decisions study shows a clear link between higher growth and the presence of a customer experience function with the proper focus and investment. In fact, 54% of B2B companies with a customer experience function plan to grow more than 10 percent this year. So where should a customer engagement team live in order to deliver the best overall return?  Let’s investigate a few options:

Live with sales?

Often customer engagement managers are not only responsible for the current health of customers, they are encouraged to find ways to expand the business. For this reason, customer engagement shares common ground with sales and account executives who are looking for opportunities to increase wallet share as well as mindshare.

  • Pros: Customer engagement managers are incentivized to look for upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
  • Cons: Customers = dollar signs to sales. And customers don’t want to be sold to ALL the time.
Be part of operations?

Customers who have a direct tie into development and support generally thrive, so making the customer engagement team part of operations makes sense. However, there are several downsides with this approach. While customers are supported, there is rarely incentive for customer engagement managers to proactively bring additional value to the customer.

  • Pros:  With easy access to implementation and the development team, customers feel their input is valued.
  • Cons: Relationships can default to transactional mode.
Merge with marketing?

Building and strengthening customer relationships is a big part of the customer engagement manager’s job. And marketing often has access to the tools and the expertise to do just that. They can help nurture customers through emails, keep them informed of product updates, sponsor events, manage customer advisory councils, and keep the conversation going through social engagement programs. Customers who fall under the marketing umbrella need never feel neglected.

  • Pros: Customer engagement managers have a full arsenal marketing tools and skills to use for customer outreach.
  • Cons: Customers often take a back seat to prospects when it comes to budget and resources.

Regardless of where you put your customer engagement team, think about your customers first. More B2B companies are creating the role of chief customer officer, vice president of customer success, or other similar positions to align all customer touch points and delivery a consistent experience for the customer, ultimately yielding greater overall customer happiness and revenue.

Need to make sure your customers are feeling the love? Check out our B2B Change Agent Handbook to learn more about the importance of putting people first and how to do it.