MUSINGS ON EXPERIENCE, TRANSFORMATION, STRATEGY AND MORE
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.
So being constructive, I'd like to propose 6 customer experience reboots for 2023. I will definitely push them with every business I work on.
Reboot #1. Let’s create experiences ‘worth having’
A brand is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Their customer experience fuels that conversation. But being honest, we must admit that many (most) experiences are not worth talking about. Or even having.
Sure, we try to be seamless, integrated, effortless and without pain points. But does using a widget or being touched by a contact centre really improve a customer’s life? And if it doesn’t, should it - philosophically speaking - even exist?
Suggestion: Let’s keep improving the effort and promoter scores where they make sense. But let's also make experiences ‘mean’ something to the customer. Make them worth having.
Reboot #2. Let’s simplify all the complexity
As customer experience professionals, we want to give a wonderful experience to ‘everyone’. While noble, this has also resulted in a complex world of persona, channel/service/journey designs and a myriad of softwares.
On their own, they all sound valid. But together, they are a nightmare to implement. And the results are often underwhelming.
Suggestion: Let’s strip all unnecessary components from our customer experience. Reduce persona by delivering a great experience to the ‘ideal customer profile’. Focus experience standards on what matters most. Give simple instructions and let your people improvise the rest.
Reboot #3. Let’s bring in the CFO
For more than a decade, folks like me have cried for customer experience professionals to ‘show the money’ of their work. It really isn’t that difficult and has massive benefits. But somehow it doesn’t seem to happen enough.
As a result, CX investments are suboptimal, easily challenged and often insufficiently credible among money oriented colleagues. After all, you need to pay the rent in cash, not in smiley faces.
Suggestion: Let’s finally bring the CFO into the customer experience conversation and help turn CX from a cost to a profit centre. Yes, initially this may be awkward for all involved. But so far, I’ve seen every finance team get excited when they see the monetary impact of turning customer smiles into cash.
Reboot #4. Let’s get competitive again
The Net Promoter Score has become the metric of of choice for a majority of CX professionals. But amidst the (valid) talk about closed loops, response rates and dashboards, we seem to have forgotten the roots of the system: to outperform the competition.
This means we leave a lot of strategic money on the table and have too much of an internal focus when optimising experiences. This while the actual race isn’t with ourselves, but with those who might be better at helping customers get their job done.
Suggestion: Let’s get serious about competitive CX again. Map our own drivers for promotion and detractors against those of the competition. Use experience designs to capture and protect market share. Focus where it matters.
Reboot #5. Let’s remember we’re humans, not robots
In our drive for efficiency and digital transformation, we’ve automated every customer service function that could be automated.
Some of this work has been truly amazing. But we must admit the chatbots, self-service environments and apps aren’t all what they promised. And that many customers find them a bit ‘cold’ and ‘unintuitive’.
Suggestion: Let’s make life easier through technology, but stop getting carried away with promises of artificially intelligent metaversal blockchain glory. Until further notice, human customers still pay the bills and for empathy and problem solving, human employees still beat the socks off any computer. So let’s bring them back where they are needed.
Reboot #6. Let’s raise the experience stakes
Whether buying a €6 semi-conductor or a €6000 Fendi bag, customers want value for money. But the concept of value is changing. Fast. An interest in features and benefits is replaced by a desire for better experiences. Even help in transformation.
Brands and vendors that cannot follow in this transition will inevitably become less interesting and will be forced into discounting. Which in the end is a game only one company can win… the cheapest.
Suggestion: Let’s look further than features, benefits and the occasional shot of customer dopamine. Instead, let’s raise the experience bar by delivering ‘moments that matter’, or even help ‘transform’ our customer. Let’s help them create the world they want to live in.
Want to talk about rebooting your customer experience for profit and meaning?
I will not pretend that any of the reboots I mention above are easy. But they are necessary, and the longer you wait, the tougher it gets.
So let’s have a brainstorm over virtual coffee. Even if it leads nowhere, I’m sure we’ll have an interesting conversation! ☕️
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Alain Thys is an experience architect who helps organisations drive profit and transformation through experience.