Tag Archives: Digital

A new(er) way to look at innovation in customer experience

Customer Experience design is often considered to be at the point of interaction. That’s why we see so many customer service trainings being conducted for customer facing teams. Some common scenarios are:

  • Handle a customer’s call
  • Process service requests at a branch
  • Deliver a product and orient customers
  • Train customers on how to use a product
  • Provide a personalized website or mobile experience
  • Set up a proactive email automation program

These bottom-up approaches are indeed required. They are important for innovation and individual enterprise to grow and flourish. They make employees passionate about the work they are doing. And initiatives such as these keep the ball rolling by making incremental innovations, instead of trying to execute a grand old strategy.

However, these initiatives must be supported by a grand old strategy to prevent us from running into inconsistent customer experiences between the multiple touch-points we all have with our customers. That’s true even for small businesses where the biggest limitation is time and resources.

he Principle of Customer interactionIn my book, I laid out 5 core principle of competing in a digital world. Of these, the principle of customer interaction can be used effectively to create the right CX framework. Other principles are important too but our grand old strategy can be reasonably jump-started by the use of this principle alone.

Basically, the principle states that since we interact with customers at both emotional (advertising) and physical (product performance and interactions) level, our approach must be oriented to complement the two ends of the customer interaction spectrum. And to be able to do that, we must think of:

  1. The life cycle – from awareness to purchase to post purchase engagement
  2. The mediums – through advertisements to education to promotions to customer service
  3. The channels – phone, email, in-person, in-store etc.

It looks complicated. But its as simple as taking the brand message and weaving it in with the customer expectation at the right stage in life cycle, medium and channel. Here are some examples:

  • A cable company competing with incumbent DSL services touts its network of wi-fi hot spots. But customers  struggle to use the wi-fi in many locations (various reasons). And their telecom provider constantly tells customers about the slow browsing speed at home. This is a classic case of CX dissonance, and how customers believe what they constantly hear. What we claim is not being reinforced by the physical experience. How do we mitigate this by messaging, CX changes and even strategic developments of the product?
  • When we visit a branch, we often finish our transaction at the teller, and then we’re off. And if they do initiate a dialog after that, its to sell a product or service, and hand us a brochure. Although, our financial well-being is something that banks have always touted on billboards, advertisements and on signs inside the branch.  it’s so surprising that they don’t try to help us with our financial management without the strong sales push. How should we try to resolve this CX dissonance?

Its obvious that CX initiatives at both individual interactions as well as at the corporate level are needed to support each other. The individual initiatives can only do so much. They can resolve a “known pain” with a business scenario. Every business scenario has exceptional flows when things don’t go as expected. And that’s where the human enterprise and empathy really shines. Think of the associate who goes out of the way to help you with a return or a claim. Individual initiatives create a lasting impact here.

However, individual initiatives cannot be the anchor for our CX strategy. CX is to be enabled by a top down agenda of the right positioning, and enabling of touch points to support that positioning. And realizing the CX vision often needs product improvements and other overreaching corporate changes too. A simple step towards that journey may be to educate all our touch-points on how they are all working together to create the desired effect, and how interconnected they are.


Must Read Strategy books – Beyond Sales and Marketing

Here are some books that I think rise above the noise. While “getting the word out” and conversions are important, these books help you define what to do to actually create a product that customers want, and how to create long lasting customer engagement. These books are about strategy, and how to compete in a changing world. (I’ve read all these books. And of course I had to add mine!)

Please suggest additions.

The strategy canvas is an amazing framework. Use that to immediately begin thinking of creating a differentiated product. This book brings to life how breaking out into a blue ocean (out of the heated competitive marketplace) is important for the long term. We’ve seen so many companies get lost in faceless price wars.
Great book showing how you don’t have to sell the most of one thing. Finding niche areas and being the best in them is a great strategy.
The 5 principles in this book provide a great practical and actionable framework on how to be where customers are, and how to create a partnership with them. Great for anyone who wants to know how to compete in this fast changing, digital, connected world.
Shows how people make decisions based on notions that they have formed over time. Awesome book to understand consumer and customer behavior, and the power of emotional bonding.

When does something really break through and start spreading like wildfire? Great book to understand how customer adopt and propagate.

Awesome book on the behavior and psychology of customers. The principles are presented in a way that you can easily test and apply them to your situation.

Another great book about our psychology. Read it if you want to see how a little money alters the delicate balance of relationships. Perhaps an insight into why brands shouldn’t offer too many promotions?

The framework for the sales conversation is at once handy and at the same time thought provoking. Yes, we all know that we need to be consultants to customers, but this book helps us get deeper into the hard work required to do that.

An awesome book that shows how a new CEO turned around a giant like IBM. IBM is perhaps the only company that has survived multiple major industry upheavals. A great lesson in leadership and vision. A must read book.

Another excellent strategy book that shows how you can look at what’s happening in your company and outside in the industry to uncover threats. And then move to address the changes your company needs to make to avoid extinction.

Please suggest additions….