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Defining the currency and value of customer experience

There is a very lovely article by Vala Afshar in Huffington Post on the current state, business impact, currency and value of customer experience.

What I liked about this article is that there are really some lovely perspectives on how companies should look at & evaluate customer experience.

Here are some of the things that I liked:

  • Customer experience is ..."a sum total of conscious events and coordinated interactions...". I loved the point on conscious events - this is a brilliant point and the impact of making it happen is quite compelling, deep & important in an organization, as the understanding and level of consciousness needed by different stakeholders when they deal with customers, must be of a very high order. The difference is having it in everybody's DNA rather a broad brushstroke of policy & direction!
  • The differentiation between company-centric values and customer-centric values is quite vivid and well articulated.
  • To deliver authentic customer experience, the point made on infrastructure that must be flexible, scalable, adaptive and intelligent is key. Most often, rigid rules and inflexible tech investments make it hard for the transformation to happen. The need for point solutions that are best-in-class for each touch point but must have the ability to fuse together with other potential interaction experiences is something enough thought process is not given by most companies.
  • The need to look at Internet of Things( IOT) in the context of customer experience is a very aspect that is most often missed. Imagine the number of digital apps and APIs that are becoming available or used by customers today. How one extracts information out of them and creates a reverse-feed for understanding and actions, will make a big difference to CX.

There is a need to take a holistic view and break down organization silos if companies want to make customer experience count.

How companies need to respond to rewired customers' brain.

I was reading this very interesting article by Peter Sena on how some of the new age companies like Uber and the like are rewiring customers' brains.

I think the perspective he was bringing-in was that  every company across the world needs to put customer experience at the centre of what they do. Also, the fact that the way customers purchase different categories are undergoing a fundamental shift but in a incredible manner never seen before.

What the new technologies and platforms are doing is that customers are now fusing "impulse" & "convenience"  in the digital world. Imagine many decades ago, fragmented markets were brought under one location thro' convenience stores, hypermarkets etc. Customers had to walk-in to these convenience stores to buy and impulse at the store played a huge role in brands getting into the shopping bag. How brands were placed in shopping aisles, shopping display, shopper promotions played an important role. Location played a huge role in that era.

I believe this is however undergoing a different shift in the digital world.

  • 'Search' is being replaced by customers 'Seeking' information. In the offline world, customers would "arrive", "search", "compare" and "buy". In the digital world, customers will increasingly "seek" and "buy".
  • 'Content, Context & Customer Intelligence' is replacing the 'Location' lever in the digital world for brands & companies. Imagine you were reading an article on health & fitness online, the next thing you do is to find where you can buy your "Fitbit" band. Or some information that you are looking for your dry skin, some regular tips and then you want to know how you can buy a brand NOW.
  • Supply chains need to undergo a fundamental transformation. It is no more important for companies to optimize their own supply chain but they need to learn how they can help optimize their distribution channel's supply chain. Imagine you are an auto brand, then you will have to reimagine you current dealerships as digital dealerships and products can be made available in a central hub for delivery!
  • The customer side demand also will need to be optimized by companies and this is something they have never been used to. They cannot simply sell and forget. The need to offer services that they have never done before. They need to look at investments customers have made in their products and add value to them. Emerging markets like India will drive these innovations with frugal engineering and adoption on Mobile. Take for example trucksumo a commercial vehicle service of TATA Ace in India - where they connect unused capacity of customers to latent demand for goods movement!  Or the Amazon Dash button - where you can order Tide when it runs out!

So, I think companies need to reimagine, restructure, reengineer their thinking & plans to the demands of the rewired customers' brains! It is not just the companies and their processes but the people who drive these businesses whose minds & brains need to be rewired too!

Companies will therefore need to focus on people, process and technology to deliver new kinds of customer experiences.