5 Questions to Ask About Customer Experiences

According to Forrester®, “to be truly competitive your company must become customer-obsessed; you need to have deep knowledge of and engagement with your customers.” The need for the organization to be obsessed with the customer revolves around data and engagement. Data-level obsession encompasses collecting as much information as you can about the customer so that the unique needs (e.g., Amazon buying preferences, Facebook habits, and likes, etc.) of the customers can be met. This information can be gathered directly from the customer (e.g., surveys, account signups, etc.) and/or can be obtained by analyzing trends (e.g., census data, inventory depletion data, etc.) Engagement-level obsession encompasses providing services to the customer that can be person-to-person (e.g., customer service, social media, etc.) and/or can be person-to-technology (e.g., corporate website, kiosks, etc.). As technology becomes commonplace and continues to get cheaper, more and more organizations are moving towards combining their data and engagement obsessions to provide a seamless experience for the customers. Customers are becoming smarter and while at one point price was one of the major factors of customer decision-making but now the quality of products and services is becoming very important.

For organizations, customer experience revolves around maximizing the potential of its people, processes, and technologies. From this perspective, customer experience is not only about the customer but also about the organization as a whole. Thus, in order to understand the holistic nature of customer experiences, organizations need to assess the current customer experiences and determine what future customer experiences should entail. This starts by asking the following questions:

TodayTomorrow
Who serves your customers?Who should serve your customers?
What avenues are being used to make the life of customers easier?What avenues should be used to make the life of the customers easier?
Where do customers experience your organization?Where should customers experience your organization?
When do customers engage with your organization?When should you be available for the customers based on their needs?
Why customer experience matters?Why customer experience is becoming the next currency?

When you are asking the above questions, keep in mind that organizations that know how to leverage its people, processes, and technologies and who are open to exploring new paradigms of customer experience would be far ahead of the game. These organizations are not only obsessed about customer experience but create executable strategies that enhance the experience for internal and external customers.

In conclusion, customer experience is more than just external-facing activities. Customer experience is about trust; trust that you would have the most competent people for representing your organization; trust that your business processes are as efficient as they can be; trust that you would use technologies to enhance and not exploit the lives of customers; trust that you would provide the best products and services to your customers; trust that you would safeguard customer information with the utmost security and privacy; trust that you would be professional even when customers have decided to leave your organization for your competitors and trust that you would not monopolize customers’ choices even if yours is the only a handful of organizations who can serve these customers.

Holistic Customer Experiences
Holistic Customer Experiences

References:

  1. Winning in the Age of the Customer
  2. 5 Factors for Business Transformation

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5 Observations on Being Innovative (at an organizational level)

A typical organizational analysis entails observing the organization from the strategic, political and cultural lenses encompassing people, processes and technologies. While these lenses are useful in understanding the workings of an organization, they are not sufficient for an organization to be innovative. To be innovative, organizations need to have a constant flow of ideas that are generated, captured and then shared smoothly up/down and horizontally across the organization.  These ideas can potentially turn into products and/or services and thus propel the organization forward and keep them ahead of the competition.

In this blog post, I will focus on how to generate ideas for your organization and introduce a term I coined the Innovation Diversity Lens. The basis of this lens emerges from the fact that given the right environment, diversity of people and ideas can lead to innovation. So how does an organization generate ideas? Well, I am glad you asked.  According to my current view of the world, idea generation happens in the following 5 ways:

  1. By tapping into the innovation capabilities within the organization through internal customers. Typically people who are closest to the work can tell you what is not efficient and how it can be improved. Taking this information from multiple people and the co-dependencies of processes you can have a holistic idea of what can happen.
  2. By becoming a catalyst for innovation for external customers. Think about how new versions of the software are released typically based upon new requirements from the customers.
  3. Keeping abreast of innovation within your industry.
  4. Keeping abreast of innovation outside your industry through cross-pollination of ideas. Think about how concepts of Project Management emerged from construction and are now used in software development.
  5. Integration, customization, and combination of the above.
Idea Generation Map Idea Generation Map