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.
With all the work that has been done, experience professionals have made customer life a lot easier and efficient. I can now watch my favourite movies without going to the cinema, order a taxi at the push of a button, and agree on a new business loan without ever leaving my desk.
But we’ve grossly ignored the things that truly matter.
We sacrificed too many human connections on the altar of digital transformation. High-volume customer feedback made us ‘reactive fixing champions’, but also blinded us to customer’s deeper needs. And these days, only a few seem to ask how their experience will truly improve the customers’ life.
So to 'level up', we need to update our perspective.
I’d need some solid research to make my thoughts more than a hypothesis, but to me it feels that these days, customer experience professionals can play in three areas.
I’m not yet sure whether they sit on top of each other, like a hierarchy, or intersect more like a Venn-diagram. But I do feel that the more areas a customer experience team covers, the closer the customer connection can become. Which, in the end, is what it’s all about.
It’s a thought experiment in which I’ve formulated each level as a customer need.
Level 1: “Help me get my jobs done.”
Every day, I spend the vast majority of my time getting a bunch of jobs done. At work, I may be selling, analysing or stuffing envelopes. At home, I’m doing groceries, clean the garage, pay the insurance bill and remind my kids to do their homework. In between, I commute, eat, watch Netflix, sleep and go to the bathroom.
While I may enjoy some of these activities more than others, they are all pretty mundane. Frankly, I just need to get them over with. So make these jobs as effortless, low cost and agreeable as possible. Ideally, make them go away, so I have more time for the stuff that really matters to me.
How to respond: Create experiences that help me complete the jobs I want to get done in a way that is easier, quicker, more agreeable, more effective and lower investment. Or, even better, help me eliminate them!
Level 2: Help me ‘have a moment’.
While 90% of my life runs on autopilot, the remaining ten per cent really matters to me. These are the moments I want to feel the rush of living, the warmth of connection to people I care about, the flow of inspiration at work. Even make some memories.
Sometimes I plan for these moments. Sometimes they just happen. But I always find them precious. So help me find more of them and when I’m in one, make it deep and lasting. After all, I don’t know when the next one comes by.
How to respond: Offer moments that connect to the values that matter to me. Create stories, spaces and rituals that encourage these moments to happen and/or let me experience them more deeply. Get up close and personal, without getting in the way.
Level 3: Help me ‘be more’
It may or may not be a big deal at the moment, but somehow I feel there must be more to my life. My health. My body. My career. My relationships. My potential.
But while I genuinely want to reach for my stars, I can’t always see them. And when I do, they can feel like nothing but dreams. So give me stories and experiences that inspire me. Show me how to act and show grit when the going gets tough. Help me truly transform.
How to respond: Help me create a new narrative for myself and the way I see the world. Offer me a realistic roadmap towards my aspirations and provide me with the tools, guidance, support and celebration I need along the way.
What do you think? Am I on to something?
Alain Thys is an experience architect who helps organisations drive profit and transformation through experience.