29 October 2015

Delivering CX in the real world


Delivering CX (customer experience) in the real world

There’s been a lot of great stuff written about customer experience (CX) – a lot of impressive structures, theories, and models for how customers interact with organisations. The discipline is really quite elegant. But when you go out into the real world, it tends to fall apart a bit.

The reason it falls apart is that people are difficult; they’re emotional and irrational, and they break all of the systems and refuse to follow any of the rules that CX models suggest they do.

Notables and quotables

One of my favourite pieces of writing on the subject is the 2009 book Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. The author is a professor of psychology and behavioural economics who looks at why people make the decisions they make. He contends that many of the emotional and irrational decisions people make are actually predictable (for example, the fact that they will break all the systems and will refuse to follow CX model rules). And I contend that this knowledge and this information can still be quite useful in the CX world.

Many also agree with Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard, who wrote in 2013 that “every company will be a technology company”, and I do believe this, too. In the future, it’s going to be very difficult to be any company unless you’re using technology in a very big way to support what you do.

Then there are the quotes along the lines of “transformation is affecting everybody” – that the challenges to your industry are going to come from new and different sources. And from what we’re seeing so far, this is right as well. For example, I had a meeting with a friend who works in the digital transformation office for the federal government, and she’s now seeing competition between government agencies and the private sector to provide the same services. A 2015 Gartner survey also backs this up: “CEOs should assume that business-model change will be forced by new digital entrants or an adjacent competitor within the next two years,” it reads.

Finally, there are lots of glib statements like “technology changes everything”, and here’s where I disagree. I don’t’ think it does. Customers are still human. They’re still emotional and irrational. They’re still looking to solve a need. Fundamentally, there’s still a person in the middle of this conversation.

It’s personal

So although digital transformation is affecting how things work, it’s doing so in two major ways:

  • How do you interact with people?
  • How do you deliver value?

And at the end of the day, the person you’re delivering value to is still just that – a person. This is when what Forrester Research calls ‘the three Es’ come in handy. Together, these provide a measure of whether your customers’ experiences are good or bad on a spectrum that spans from positive to neutral to negative. The three Es are:

  • effectiveness
  • ease
  • emotion.

Ultimately, these are what people are looking for in their interactions. They want to get some value out of the interaction. They’d like that interaction to be easy, and ideally, they’d like to leave in a better mood than when they started the transaction.

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