In a previous article I indicated the need for organisations to get ready for the new customer experiences of 5-10 years from now. In this post, I explore three simple steps you can take to do this in your business.
STEP 1: LEARN
If words like IoT, blockchain or AI bemuse you, go educate yourself. Put on that Virtual Reality helmet. Go hunt Pokemons to understand AR. Make your first 3D print. But don’t just stick to technology. Visit a home for the elderly to see for yourself how older generations live. Look at how teenagers really use the internet and social media. Leave your cosy urban environment with latte’s-on-demand and venture into geographies where real people live and wifi isn’t ubiquitous. The only way to truly understand the way our world is changing, is to experience it first hand.
STEP 2: ENVISION
Once you have a picture of what technology can and can’t achieve, step away to envision what you want to do with this knowledge. Let go of today’s orthodoxies to develop CX scenarios that consider the way customer life could be. Like car companies create concept cars, think of concept experiences. They don’t need to be feasible today, but merely thinking them through, can inform your actions for tomorrow. Oh yes, and when doing so remember that just because something can be digitised, it doesn’t mean it should be digitised. After all, it’s still humans that pay the bills.
STEP 3: EXPERIMENT
Don’t stay in the land of dreams and theory, but do stuff. Create a safe zone where you can experiment freely with new business and experience concepts. A customer experience laboratory where you and your people can interact with customers in new ways and learn. And when ever you hit something that works for your business, integrate it and roll it out. After all, if you don’t do it, someone else will.
If you are responsible for the customer, you probably spend a good part of your days looking at Voice of the Customer (VoC) data, closed loop processes, journey maps and - if you’re really good - organisational capability assessments. You battle silos. You update KPI’s. You deliver presentations proving that the right type of customer-centricity really does make money.
This is all great work, and it should remain at the top of your agenda. But there is another part of the puzzle that should be considered. While you’re busy making today’s business that little better, who's looking at your company's longer game?
We live in a world where sci-fi sounding buzzwords like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, blockchains, artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic engineering and mixed reality are happily blending with ecological, political and socio-demographic shifts.
Each of these developments has the potential to transform complete industries. Taken together, they make a perfect storm which will leave no organisation untouched. Even those with minimal foresight, will have to admit that the customer experiences of 2025 will look nothing like what we consider as normal today.
But it is remarkable how few customer experience programmes provide these topics with adequate air time, if any.
On the one hand, this is understandable. Most customer programme leaders are so busy fixing the basics that anything that goes beyond the next fiscal year seems to take place in another life time.
But on the other hand, it’s also wrong. While we shouldn’t buy every story the Silicon Valley merchants peddle, it is clear that the next 5-10 years of technological, ecological, social and subsequent behavioural change will make the so-called internet revolution look like a walk in the park. Disregarding this reality could make your customer efforts today’s equivalent of shuffling the chairs on the Titanic.
So while continuing to improve today’s reality, I think it is time for companies to seriously start considering scenarios for the ways in which they want to engage their customers in the coming decade. Not to mention how they will make money from this.
After all, this is:
In future posts, I will be provide some practical suggestions on how you can pragmatically start preparing your organisation for the customer realities of 2020 and 2025.
Meanwhile, I’d be very interested in your thoughts on the topic. Especially if you disagree ;-)
This article is part of a new series - and possibly book - I’m developing on the future of customer experience. This all within the context of the Customer Council I’m setting up with support from the wonderful people at Confirmit, InSites Consulting and soon a few others. If you want to share your thoughts or act on the topics I write about (or get involved in the Council), do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.
Image: (cc) Aaron Burden - via Unsplash.com
About this blog
Whenever inspiration strikes, I use this space to share my thoughts on customer experience management, storytelling or what ever else crosses my mind.