By George Aveling and Vig Sivalingam
This article is for customer experience professionals who may be feeling somewhat confused, even intimidated in an increasingly technology-enabled world.
Our message to you is that you will not be confused if you stick to your compass north – customers’ expectations.
It would be easy to believe that the customer experience today is driven by technology.
This is incorrect.
The customer experience is, and always will be, driven by the expectations of your customers.
It starts with asking the right question.
Let us explain.
Technology is the servant
The 4th Industrial Revolution – some call it the Information Revolution – is upon us. We now have available to us tools that are increasing in sophistication, including big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots, virtual reality and augmented reality.
These technologies are servants to our customers.
Our servants can certainly help to create happy, loyal customers. If not, they can create significant customer dis-satisfaction.
We will become confused if we start with the question, “How can we use these technologies?”
Ask the compass north question
The starting point for clearing your confusion is to change the core question that you ask.
Rather than asking questions around, “What does this technology do”, stick to your compass north and ask, “How can this technology serve us to provide a customer experience that builds customer loyalty?”
You will feel more at ease when you ask this compass north question.
And, this question leads on to a burning question in the customer experience – “what is a customer experience that builds customer loyalty?”.
An evergreen principle – focus on customer expectations
The quality of the customer experience starts and ends with the customer. It starts with what customers expects, and ends with what was his or her experience.
In simple terms, how well did the service provider deliver on the promise?
Let’s say you were expecting delivery of a product that you had bought on-line. Did the service provider deliver to the promised time, or before the promised time, in which case you would be a satisfied or very satisfied customer. Or, did the service provider not deliver on the promised time, in which case you would be an unhappy customer.
It’s as simple as that. The customer experience is defined by the difference between expectations and experience.
The tale of money poorly spent on a piece of technology
Many years ago, the VCR was an amazing bit of technology. You could record television programs off your VCR. Wow!
We remember going to the electrical shop, looking excitedly at the VCRs. There were basic models going for a low price, and then gradually, the models had more features and were priced at double and triple the price of the basic version. We were impressed with all of the features – and happily paid a premium price for the version that was packed full of functions.
We came home, and then, among the many features, we just used the basics –stop, start, pause, record and play.
We paid a premium price, but all we needed was the basic model.
Where did we go wrong?
We were dazzled by the technology. We lost sight of our needs. We bought the technology. We should have been clear on our needs from the technology – and then decided on which model that I needed.
In a similar way, when assessing what technologies to acquire, customer experience professionals should start with customer expectations. They should assess alternative technologies, and allocate budget based on those expectations.
Here are 3 questions for you?
- Is there clarity in your organisation on what your customer expectations are?
- Do you know how those expectations have changed in our digitally-enabled world?
- Is your decision making on the selection of technologies based on an understanding of 1 and 2 above?
In our next article, we will share with you how customer expectations have changed in a digitally enabled world.