Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Look Back to Look Forward

Image courtesy of Gerard Fritz
It's that time of the year again... 

Pundits are making their predictions about customer experience, marketing, and more:  what's the next big thing coming in the new year and what should everyone be focusing on. As you know, these predictions are made every year, late in the year and as the calendar rolls over into the new year.

While I'm a fan of looking ahead, staying on top of the latest trends, being innovative and cutting edge, and getting out in front of things, it's important to remember this: just because the calendar flips to a new year doesn't mean everyone has a new-found appreciation or excitement for all things CX.

And while looking ahead is an important part of planning, there's also a lot of value in taking the opportunity to stop, reflect, and look back on:
  • what was on our to-do list for the year
  • what we accomplished
  • what we did not accomplish
  • where we've been
  • where we are now
Having said that, here are some of my thoughts on customer experience in 2015.

When we make predictions, we need to consider the various customer experience maturity levels. There's that top 5% - the CX Leaders - that get it, are on it, and know what they need to do today, tomorrow, and next year. When we make predictions, I think we speak to these folks because our predictions tend to be about the "what's next" or the "what's going to take the CX/CX strategy to the next level" or the next whiz-bang thing. There's nothing wrong with that, but for someone who hasn't even started yet, it's daunting. Or worse yet, they think they need to start there - now - when we all know there are steps we must go through to design and ultimately deliver a great customer experience.

The companies we should be focusing on in 2015 are the ones who haven't even started yet or who are just getting started. These are the folks who need to know how to get started or how to do best what they are doing today in order to move to the next level, respectively. There are so many companies who still need help getting the basics right - including getting executive buy-in - that thinking about emotions or proactive service or the Internet of Things is only on their wish list - or not even in their vocabularies. They'll get there, but they need to put one foot in front of the other, first. Baby steps.

The other piece that I think is a must-have for 2015 (as it should be every year) is a focus on the employee experience. There is so much data out there that shows employee engagement levels to be at their lowest ever, and yet there's also tons of data that supports the fact that employee engagement drives business results. What are companies doing wrong? (I've written a post for Intradiem this month that answers this question. Stay tuned for that.) We know that a bad employee experience and employee disengagement lead to churn and a whole host of other problems, not the least of which is a bad customer experience. Let's resolve to fix this this year!

Shifting gears to what's in store for customer experience professionals, I think we need to (a) make sure customer experience is clearly defined and (b) lose "customer experience" as the label for everything now, i.e., it's become watered down. "Customer experience" should not be a catch phrase or a phrase of the day/moment. How do we get companies to stop misusing it, to stop calling every position they are trying to fill a "customer experience role?" It dilutes what we are trying to do, and it doesn't help our cause.

Perhaps I've taken a simplistic viewpoint for moving forward this year, but if we don't get the basics right and if we don't look back on how we got to where we are, then I don't believe we can move forward in an efficient or effective manner.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. -Søren Kierkegaard


4 comments:

  1. Hi Annette,
    Do you think we define customer experience as an outside in term or an inside out term ie. what a customer really experiences vs what we do to them or want them to do?

    Adrian

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    1. It should be outside in, but I think it gets defined more often as inside out. Sadly.

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  2. Hi Annette,
    I agree with your view that it is a problem that “customer experience” is used as a label for everything. However, it is not clear to me how we can go about “fixing” the problem. What do you think is the best way forward?

    Best regards,
    Jo

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Jo. I think it starts - and continues - with education and communication. And the more we can use the phrase correctly, the better. Unfortunately, it's gotten a bit out of control, so it will be a challenge to ensure everyone has a common understanding of what customer experience is.

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