Kampyle, now part of Medallia, published this interview as a kickoff to their Emerging Trends in Customer Experience in 2016 series. We’ve updated it for 2017
Can you tell us how you got into CX and why you find the space so interesting?
In 1999, I was working as an innovative leader and executive consultant at IBM. Steve Haeckel (the guy who taught me systems thinking applied to corporate design) introduced me to Lou Carbone (the guy who helped me fall in love with the customer experience). Together, we worked on the wireless drive-thru experience for McDonald’s. Lou taught me how to ‘read’ a business by reading its clues. Steve taught me how to design a business to be adaptable to his customers’ needs. Powerful combination! Why do I find space so interesting? Because CX gives us the opportunity to use the customer experience as a company strategy , to differentiate your brand and add greater value to customers and shareholders at the same time .
Recently, we’ve seen a huge increase in the importance of CX – why do you think this happens?
Because it works. Many professionals were successful, which leads more professionals to introduce themselves and try CX. What makes CX work, in my opinion, is that a robust CX methodology brings together all the loose ends of a business. Most individual departments are set up to optimize what’s in their own silos—not to look at different areas of the business and make the overall experience better for the customer. CX takes the big picture – the customer view, if you will – and tries to bend the company’s operations to the customer’s will. It’s a healthy effort for everyone involved and the results are generally very positive.
What CX trends do you see emerging this year?
2016 will be the year that technology (finally) will allow us to put humans first again. Predictive analytics (using past behavior to estimate future behavior and then providing interesting options) will draw attention. Brands that employ predictive analytics to serve their customers will leapfrog those that adopt the technology just to sell more. After all, customers prefer buying experiences over selling experiences.
2017 will be the year of smarter customer experiences. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) meets the Internet of Things (IoT) and Augmented Reality (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) become more recognizable and useful, customer experiences will become easier for customers. More shopping will happen before people head to the store than before. More customers will want more activities (information, entertainment, service, repairs, etc.) than ever before. Start thinking of stores as 50% support, 25% media, and 25% product and you’ll understand.
What’s the best advice you can give a company that’s trying to improve the customer experience?
Buy your own business on each channel and get to know your customers and employees by having face-to-face conversations with them. Let what you see and hear influence your thinking and guide you to a new definition of what is “right” for your brand. You may be surprised how doing things for others (rather than for them) makes all the difference in the world to your bottom line.
How important is customer feedback as a component of the customer experience?
Of course, it’s extremely important. One caution, however. Make sure you don’t follow your numbers. By that I mean – don’t let your numbers lead the design of customer experiences. Numbers are just measures of things we know how to measure, but they don’t usually tell the full story. Not everything that matters to customers can be measured, and not everything that we measure is important to them! Have at least one customer value creation metric in your measurement mix to stay connected to what your customers care most about. You might consider adding a measure that captures your employees’ feelings, because great customer experiences come from great employee experiences ;-)
Which CX metrics do you think are the most important?
My absolute favorite is creating customer value. It measures how much value a company creates for its customers. The real measure can be what customers value most: cost savings, time or effort, emotional outcomes, personal transformation, level of enthusiasm or praise from friends and family. Creating customer value is not (yet) a widely talked about concept, but I believe it is the missing link when it comes to prioritizing projects.
Who do you think needs to own CX in a company?
Marketing. Here’s why .
Which companies today do you think have a great CX? Why?
I’m a big fan of PIRCH because it was built with the purpose of being an experience before it becomes a store. I also love Discount Tire because they nailed it when it comes to delivering high value at low cost (the holy grail of most CX design efforts).
Mike is the founder of Storyminers, an innovative Atlanta company that helps retail and other service brands envision the ideal customer experience and bring it to life. Read more at www.storyminers.com and check out the blog on CX, design and customer engagement.