CX — From Buzz Word to Buzz Kill? Finding Opportunities Within the Threats
Over the past several years, the concept of the Customer Experience (CX) has evolved. It has gone from a mythical place independent of budgets (was it sales or marketing anyway?) to the key differentiator between one business or brand and another, often trumping product. In the culture-driven hallowed hallways where core values are proudly displayed on prominent walls with eight to twelve-inch high fonts, Customer Experience seems to have suddenly earned the right to a seat at the grown-up table, or at the very least the corporate boardroom.
Now that everyone has seen the memo companies are struggling with adapting all of the layers of their business to fit within a holistic customer-centric approach. This is no easy task when one considers that many departments have traditionally been siloed (or silenced), and suddenly everyone is expected to play along — while the Voice Of the Customer (VOC) unapologetically jumps to the front of the line assuming the pole position in the hierarchy of things.
Companies that have a successful handle on their customer journey and understand the personas of their customers and prospects have a distinct advantage since they are already seeing things through the lens of the customer, however, this becomes exceedingly difficult in organizations that are being rocked at their very core through disruption or an ever-changing distribution model.
Take the restaurant industry as an example. For years corporate head offices created and did their best to set and control the brand standards in each of their franchises. Consistency is key and franchisors pay a premium to live up to the brand promise and meet the expectations of their customers. Independent or Mom and Pop enterprises put their unique stamp all over their business and over time regulars or repeat customers, for the most part, enjoy (or tolerate) the idiosyncrasies that make them who they are as long as they are still getting enough of the good stuff that is important to them.
It is not difficult to appreciate the conflict, however, when both of these tried and true models, each with varying ability to think outside (or inside) the box suddenly have no choice but to embrace third-party platforms and providers to sell and deliver their product to an ever-demanding marketplace where convenience and perception of value overrules loyalty.
Something as finicky as food is now in the hopefully washed hands of independent contractors that at any given moment are not only representing several brands simultaneously but also hold the keys to the kingdom in terms of gauging customer sentiment as the only feet on the street for the brand - at least until the electronic ticket is closed and they are on their way. Only a few years ago this concept would seem both far-fetched ill-advised, and yet here we are.
As I’ve stated many times before during discussions on customer experience and customer service, as brands just about all of us are merely hours away (minutes in many cases) from an alternative product or service being delivered to our customer’s door or digital world. As consumers, we’ve evolved to a point where it’s easier to purchase a product or service on spec and painlessly return it for another — without leaving the comfort of our home or office.
This new reality underscores the critical importance of customer experience and brands are coming to terms with the fact that although they don’t get to dictate their customers’ expectations, they certainly must ensure their house is in order and there is alignment in all departments in order to deliver on the brand promise.
About the Author
In 2002, Greg founded webAssist.ca, a marketing and technology firm that received numerous awards before merging with Arcane 2015. Greg has been a co-host on the weekly Twitter chat #CustServ since 2010, regularly contributes to CX publications, and currently provides technology, marketing, and CX consulting services. In addition to being named a Top 25 CX Influencers to Follow by Panviva, he was also named a Top 50 Call Center Twitter Accounts to Follow by Playvox, Top 50 Thought Leaders to Follow on Twitter by ICMI, and a Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pro On Twitter by Huffington Post.
Follow Greg @GregOrtbach
This article is an excerpt from our new eBook Build a Better Customer Experience available here.