If you are responsible for the customer experience (CX) in your business, 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 customer-centricity really does make money.
This is all great work, and it should remain at the top of your agenda. It's what makes good companies great, and keeps them competitive.
But there is another part of the puzzle that should be considered.
While you’re improving today’s business, who is 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 happily blend with ecological, political and socio-demographic shifts. Each of these topics on their own can be world-changing. What happens when they converge, no one can predict.
But in almost none of the customer experience projects I have seen, these topics are given adequate (any?) air time. All accept reality as it is today.
On the one hand, this is understandable. Most CX programme leads 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, the signs are clear that the next 5-10 years of technological and subsequent behavioural change will make the internet revolution look like a walk in the park.
While improving today, CX professionals also need to start planning tomorrow. This is important for very practical reasons. If you’re investing in new retail space or a rapid-delivery warehouse with a 5-10 year amortisation, you want to know the likelihood that your great idea of today will still be relevant in 2025. But it also matters strategically. In a world of ultra-rapid change, any existing experience will become a target for disruption as soon as the right start-up finds the right capital. If you are not proactively challenging the way your business engages with its customers, someone will start doing it for you. At which point you’re on the back foot.
So where do you start? Here are three suggested steps:
1. Make sure you’re up to date.
If words like IoT, blockchain or AI bemuse you, start reading up on them. If you’re already informed, keep learning more. No one really knows how the future will unfold and there is plenty of commercial hype (aka. branded content) to confuse us all. So build your own understanding of how technological and socio-demographic trends might impact your customer’s experience.
2. Start developing customer scenarios
Once you have oriented yourself, develop CX scenarios which let go of today's orthodoxies and look at customer life the way it could be. Like car companies create concept cars, start thinking of concept experiences. They don’t need to be feasible today, but the mere fact of thinking them through can inform your actions for tomorrow.
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 place where you, and your colleagues, 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 (or spin it out if that's more realistic). If you don’t do it, someone else will.
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.