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We've all seen the reports and the studies and the statistics that "customer experience is the next... battlefield, competitive battleground, competitive advantage, competitive frontier, marketing, ___ [fill in the blank]."
I recently saw a report stating that customer experience will be the competitive advantage by 2020; another said that it would be the primary point of differentiation by 2017; and yet another stated that customer experience is the next marketing race; and so on. Again, fill in the "next ___ [blank]."
Ironically, I came across a report from two years ago that said that in two years (like, now) it would be the competitive advantage.
Customer experience isn't the next anything. It's the here and now! It's the current battlefield, etc. It's the battlefield of yesterday. Why do these analysts keep coming up with those great headlines, and yet they know in their heart of hearts that companies need to be focusing on the experience today?
The purpose of a business is to create (and to nurture) a customer. Every day. Not two years from now, not four years from now. Today.
Using headlines like "customer experience will be the only competitive advantage in 2020" kicks the can down the road for those companies that are already ignoring the fact (or not getting it) that improving the customer experience is critical today.
Seriously, what gives?
Customers want personalized and simplified experiences. They want companies to "know me" and to reduce the effort to achieve some task or to do some job. If you can accomplish those two things, you've won the competitive battle!
Customers have expectations. And their expectations may differ from the two I noted in the previous paragraph. Companies need to listen and understand. All they have to do is ask. Or listen. And customers will tell them about the experience they want.
Here's the problem with a customer experience and culture transformation: it's a lot of work. A lot of hard work. It's a journey. You've got to move mountains. And silos.
Can you name the last great customer experience you had, outside of "the usuals." I cannot. My last great experience was with a "usual," i.e., Amazon. Otherwise, I'm drawing a blank.
I long for the day when I have to think long and hard about a time when I had a crappy experience. Sadly, I'm not losing sleep over that day; I don't think it will happen in two years, four years, or during my lifetime, for that matter. I hope I'm proven wrong.
Your customers are responsible for your company’s reason for existing. -Marilyn Suttle