Bar-Talk: Customer Experience – Time to Change Perspective

If it comes to CX people talk about their social CRM and IT infrastructures they need to improve. And this topic is mixed with many different perspectives on CX. The marketing people say: oh we have to bring together the needs people have at multi touchpoints and address this with our value prop. The IT people talk about CX as the one thing, like a product or solution which has to be implemented. And the CEOs base their CX decisions just on the customer data, they see and interpret. This is the point, where we should change our perspective, right? And this should be exactly the point for the publications. How should we change our perspective to create CX? What where the biggest barriers and influencing factors from the past? To answer these and further important questions on the meaning of customer experience I did an „emote” bar talk with Brian Solis, a digital analyst globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in business innovation and author of the book X-the experience when business meets design

Brian, why is it so difficult to create CX for many people/decisionmakers? 

CX is a difficult process because so many stakeholders interpret CX differently and then prioritize investments and resources accordingly. IT thinks it’s about technology. Marketing thinks it’s about omni-channel. Customer service focuses on contact touch points. Advertising activates experiential events and campaigns. Executives ask for customer data and make decisions based on narrow inputs and more so cognitive biases. I could go on and on. This is why CX is a mess today. Everyone is perpetuating the problem by attacking CX from their silo and the losers are the customer. Yet, customers don’t see departments, they see one brand.

Just because “this is how it’s always” been done is a recipe for digital Darwinism today. CX is an opportunity not to just improve and integrate customer experiences, but also re-engineer business models and processes to compete in an era where customers are taking control of their experiences.

Who should own the experience? What skills will be important?

The best companies in CX take a different perspective regarding this question. They start with acknowledging that the person who owns the customer experience is the customer. Think about that for a second. The absolutely own their experience. Yet, here we are debating who should own it and do everything but understand their behaviors, expectations, preferences and so on.

I define customer experience this way, it’s the sum of all engagements a customer has with your brand in every touch point, in each moment of truth, throughout the customer life-cycle. The question to then ask is what is the experience they have vs. what they expect PLUS what experiences they’re receiving from other companies. More so, how are their favorite apps, i.e. Uber, Tinder, Instacart, changing their expectations and how should you rethink the customer journey to be native, friction-less, and delightful based on outside innovation?

As such, who owns CX is something that should be answered in a future state and work toward that goal now. Companies excelling here are looking at ideal customer experiences and building inside and outside for them. New cross-functional groups lead collaboration to remove friction, optimize effective touch points and invest innovation based on new areas of opportunity. An empathetic customer-centric approach to CX improves retention, acquisition and relationships. Great CX is all the work that you do so your customers don’t have to…

To what extent technology should play a role in CX? What are the limits of Technology?

Too many businesses today take a technology-first approach to CX which is ironically not customer-centric. I call this the remote control. No one likes the remote control. We use it because we have to. I’d go so far to say that we have a reluctant relationship with it. Yet, every year, even though we get a new generation of TV innovation, we still get a remote control that looks a little different, but also gets more complex along the way. Did you know that there are on average 70 buttons on this brick and at the same time, we all have phones or tablets where we interact with them using completely different gestures?

This problem is rooted in legacy thinking, abiding by dated processes and layering new technology on top of old. This is what happens in CX today.

Technology isn’t the answer, it’s an enabler. CX should start with the 3 “Ps” missing from the original 4Ps, People, Purpose and Promise. Technology should facilitate experiences and bring them to life but that has to start with first understanding what the experience should be based on what’s desired and relevant to an evolving customer.

Please describe the importance of CX as part of the digital transformation. Is it the main game changer?

Among the different topics I study, innovation, culture 2.0, CX, I also focus on digital transformation. Digital transformation means something different to everyone. Just like CX, it is something that is started independently in each group with different objectives. But like CX, everything is on a collision course toward convergence. Everything has to work together otherwise you compete against yourself.

I define digital transformation this way…

The re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers, create new value and deliver delightful and relevant experiences at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

In my research, I’ve found that a common catalyst for rapid and ultimately holistic digital transformation is in fact CX. More so, by zooming in on the digital customer experience (DCX) and asking what would my digital customer do and how is it affecting traditional behavior, companies can beeline toward fast innovation.

This is the part where skeptics or laggards say, “Why would you focus on the digital customer? They’re a minority in the overall market. We should focus on customers as a whole!” They’re right…in some aspects.  The thing is, that they didn’t. They continued to invest in technologies and systems that distanced companies from people all in the name of efficiencies, scale and profitability. These actions weren’t customer-centric, they were shareholder and stakeholder-centric.

It’s the same argument with taxis in the face of Uber. They’ve had years to study how people were changing, how digital was affecting experiences and decision-making, how startups were placing customers at the center of services. Once Uber hit the market, it set a new standard for customer experience. People who take Ubers don’t go back to taking taxis.

Technology helps companies grow but it at the same time empowers customers by giving them access to information, connections and things in real-time, when, how, and where they want them. Studying the digital customer provides insights to improve the DCX and CX. There’s an Uber of everything on the horizon of every business and digital transformation is the best defense and offense to compete in a digital economy.

Thank you for the insights, Brian!

Brian Solis is digital analyst and well-known author of the book “X – the experience when business meets design”.

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Silvia Hänig
Silvia Hänig Inhaberin der Kommunikationsberatung iKOM in München, bekennender Communication Strategist, Coffee-Junkie und Fan vielfältiger Medienwahrheiten.
Silvia Hänig

Posted by Silvia Hänig

Silvia Hänig Inhaberin der Kommunikationsberatung iKOM in München, bekennender Communication Strategist, Coffee-Junkie und Fan vielfältiger Medienwahrheiten.

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