How to Execute Customer Experience Projects

How to Execute Customer Experience Projects

Clearly defined roles help foster cross-functional cooperation.

Customer experience is more important than ever in retail. Today, customer experience projects are often tripped up by traditional organizational boundaries.

“For many companies, there isn’t one person who can drive innovation across the whole organization,” says Sahir Anand, principal analyst at EKN Research. “It’s a massive, massive challenge.”

The brands that figure out how to get cross-functional teams to work well together tend to outperform the competition, he says.

Enter the RACI chart.

A RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) chart, also called a RACI matrix, helps cross-functional teams work more harmoniously. These charts clarify who is doing what on a given project.

Here’s the 411 on RACI:

Responsible: Who does the work?

Accountable: Who is ultimately on the hook for the final work and its results? This individual has the project authority.

Consulted: Those who receive updates and provide guidance. It’s two-way communication. People listed under consulted typically provide input on someone else’s deliverables, but don’t themselves have a major deliverable.

Informed: This person receives updates in a largely one-way fashion. Their input is not required, but they will be affected by the project’s outcome.

A RACI chart provides an at-a-glance view of the people that fill each role.

To see how this works on a couple of sample customer experience projects, Connected Futures worked with Anand to define RACI roles for smart lockers, advanced self-service shelves, and mobile commerce.

These three examples are among the key projects identified in A Roadmap to Digital Value in the Retail Industry, a Cisco-led economic analysis of “value at stake” in the retail industry.

Customer experience projects require intense cross-functional cooperation. To understand how this cross-function team can work together, this chart can be used to define roles at the project level. It also helps identify the potential role for each department.

Anand points out that a role-level involvement can be assigned differently depending on organizational culture.

The next step would be to identify the specific tasks that make up the project, and assign corresponding RACI roles to the individuals within each department.

Project 1: Smart Lockers

At certain 7-Eleven convenience stores, there is a row of lockers for deliveries. A consumer orders online, gets a QR code on his or her smartphone, and scans that code at the store to open his locker and receive the delivery.

Some consumers find this more appealing than home delivery. For example, parents may want to intercept holiday gifts and avoid having them delivered when the kids are home.

Besides the fee that 7-Eleven receives from Amazon for the space, the convenience store gets the chance to sell to those people coming in for package pickup.

Smart lockers aren’t an entirely new concept. Anand says that most transit points like train stations have some related type of locker system—but in the United States, they are relatively new in the retail world.

If the lockers are already well-defined by the partner, such as Amazon, the RACI roles for the retailer implementing smart lockers might look like this:

RACI for Smart Lockers


  • E-commerce/Digital Team: Build the strategy
  • Store Operations and Planning/Regional Teams: Identify locations; deployment and execution
  • CIO/IT: Application implementation and integration


  • Vice President of Store Operations


  • CFO/Finance: Budgeting
  • Analytics Team: Forecasting
  • Merchandising: Assessing impact on existing shelf space, adjust product mix, define cross-sell opportunities
  • Security: Payment security, physical security, and loss prevention
  • CMO/Marketing: Brand, signage, and advertising the in-store lockers


  • CTO/Innovation Lab
  • User Experience
  • Legal/Compliance

Now let’s look at a project that involves more advanced technology.

Project 2: Advanced Self-Service Shelves

Imagine standing in front of a retail shelf, considering a product. As soon as you pick up an item, gesture-recognition technology captures the movement and displays rich relevant product information. On a screen at eye level. This is essentially assisted selling information, says Anand.

Or, the system might send pertinent information to your smartphone, such as compatibility of the product you picked with others you’ve purchased before. All by integrating data tied to your loyalty club ID. No more buying the wrong printer ink cartridge.

This kind of technology is much newer than the smart lockers in the preceding example, with more undefined variables, so the RACI roles to execute such a project would be different.

RACI for Smart Self-Service Shelves


  • CTO/Innovation Lab: develop strategy and pilot
  • CIO/IT: Point of Sale (POS) and display systems as well as liaison to systems integrator
  • Store Operations:  Maintenance procedures and associate training
  • User Experience: Define user interactions


  • CTO or Head of Omnichannel


  • CFO/Finance: Budgeting
  • Analytics: Data capture and system optimization
  • Merchandising: Integration with RFID systems and inventory procedures
  • E-commerce/Digital Team
  • Security: Loss prevention
  • CMO/Marketing: Integration with loyalty club data/processes


  • Legal/Compliance

Project 3: Mobile Commerce

Implementation of new payment forms at the point of sale falls heavily on IT and store operations, with fewer groups having deliverables than in the previous projects.

However, there’s more to mobile commerce than just payment systems. Depending on culture and organizational setup, the innovation lab may be the group keeping an eye on emerging possibilities, and in other companies, the merchandising group or marketing group may be at the helm of these initiatives.


  • Store Operations: Deployment, process, and training
  • CIO/IT: Integration with mobile app and point-of-sale systems
  • User Experience: Interaction design


  • CIO


  • CFO/Finance: Budgeting
  • Ecommerce/Digital Team: Integration with online system
  • CTO/Innovation Lab
  • CMO/Marketing
  • Analytics: Optimization
  • Security: Secure payment


  • Merchandising
  • Legal/Compliance

This side-by-side look across multiple projects allows the company to manage workloads, ensuring that each department has enough resources to meet its deliverables across the full portfolio of projects.

Hover over any cell in the chart to pop-up additional information.


RACI charts are flexible and can be constructed in different ways.

Download a horizontal-format spreadsheet variation of the chart here.

Derek Slater has written about business and technology for more than 20 years and is based in San Francisco.

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