MUSINGS ON EXPERIENCE, TRANSFORMATION, STRATEGY AND MORE
Last week, I got home without remembering how I got there
No, I wasn’t under the influence. Also, as far as I could tell, my brain was still quite functional.
I blanked because I knew the road so well that I walked it on autopilot. All I remembered of my journey was the podcast I was listening to. And the cyclist who nearly ran me over.
To me, customer experience management has always been about making a difference.
Literally, by helping the companies I worked for differentiate.
Metaphorically, by enriching their customers’ lives.
Every exponential curve eventually takes you by surprise. Even if you’re watching.
In generative artificial intelligence, for me, that moment was last week.
I’ve played with it since 2017. But I looked at it as a toddler writing or drawing. The effort and creativity were endearing. Though I felt it had a long way to go.
Earlier this year, my views started changing.
Over the years, I’ve worked on quite a few ‘corporate transformation’ programmes. Some were highly successful. Others we don’t talk about.
Typically, success and failure depended on the behaviour of the people in charge. Including my own.
Though looking at each experience as a learning opportunity, I have identified a few behaviours of which I remind myself every time I work on a new project or with a new team. They typically live as a reminder in my (digital) drawer. So I cleaned them up a bit, to share in this article.
I had it coming
During a recent presentation, someone pointed out that I regularly mentioned the need to ‘level up’ the customer experience, but I never really described what that next level should look like.
It was a fair point.
Because yes, my point about levelling up is contextual, so my answer is always: "it depends". But that shouldn't prevent a clear opinion on where I think the CX profession should go next.
The answer I gave on the spot was a start.
For a few years, Forrester has been tolling the death bell for non-performing customer experience programmes. But in their latest European Predictions 2023, they deliver their harshest verdict yet. To paraphrase:
Tighter markets mean next year is 'sink or
swim' time for CX leaders, in which up to 20%
of programmes may disappear.
At the risk of being unpopular, I can see the logic of CEOs getting critical about CX.
As a profession, many of us confuse the tools and the tech with the financial, competitive and customer value results we are supposed to deliver.
Most transformative experiences happen by accident.
Out of ten companies you apply to, the one that says yes makes you move city or country. You find or lose someone to love. You have an accident. Pick one school over another. Get mugged. Find unexpected kindness in a stranger.
We all know these moments.
Going in, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Looking back, you can see the moment as a trigger point. A first domino in a sequence of events that turned you from the person you were back then into the person you are today. You didn’t script or plan the journey. But it happened. Changed you.
These days, every leadership team wants to see a mindset change in their people. They need to be more customer-centric. More digital. More agile. More innovative. More sustainable. More lean. More in love with the colour blue.
To make this happen, companies unleash so many transformation programmes that merely mentioning the T-word makes employees roll their eyes in despair. Only this year, I’ve had multiple executives tell me “what ever the content, let’s not call what we are doing a transformation.”
As a customer, would you prefer fashion created by an AI or by a human? A month ago, I would have not given computers much thought. But now I’ve played with the latest generation of AI design tools, I’m not so sure anymore.
I feel we need to radically review the design and product development cycles in creative industries like fashion, graphic design, furniture, and more…
In this issue of Level Up, I summarise the experiment that changed my mind and make the case that if you want to stay in tune with your customers, you should do some tech immersion of your own.
In a recent video, I suggested spending more time on getting customers who ‘would’ recommend to actually do so. As I received some ‘how to?’ questions on the topic, I’m using this issue of Level Up to outline three practical steps you can take. I hope you find them useful.
PS. While the below may sound like a B2C topic, it is even more relevant in B2B.
Alain Thys is an experience architect who helps organisations drive profit and transformation through experience.