Followers of my blog will know that I have traveled extensively over the last four years. In 2015 alone, I have visited 20 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. In 2016, I am already scheduled to work in North America and the Middle East as well as continuing my efforts in Europe and Africa. In all cases, I have been asked to work with; talk to; teach; cajole; people from the C-suite to the front line; in understanding the importance of Customer Experience.
Whilst many of the people who have had to endure my ramblings are aligned to my passion for the subject of Customer Experience, there will always be some who have a different perspective. I learned a long time ago that just because something is obvious to me, it does not mean it will be to someone else. One of the key skills required of a Customer Experience Professional is the ability to help those who do not understand its importance to ‘get it’! However, the reality is that here will always be people who will ‘agree to disagree’.
As an independent Customer Experience Specialist, I now find myself in the nice position of being asked to discuss the subject with people who genuinely want to listen. As an employee of a variety of corporate organisations for 17 years, I know all too well what it feels like when that is certainly not the case!
During my working life I have been called many things. From emotionally immature; to naive; to ignorant; to arrogant; to insignificant!! Only recently I was accused of being blind, a simpleton and the ‘modern day Gandhi of CX’ (their words not mine!). I personally will always accept and acknowledge the opinions of others – yet even if I disagree, I am always reluctant to use descriptive words of this nature to express it.
I am increasingly finding that there is a group of people who are of the opinion that Customer Experience ‘does not matter’. That Customer Experience cannot possibly be considered a ‘profession’. It is not uncommon for people to accuse me of ‘overreacting’ to negative experiences – these people say that they ‘would not care’ if the experiences I write about had happened to them. This perspective has led to me thinking what the world would be like if everyone felt like that – if no-one cared about Customer Experience?
What would happen if we NEVER complained when something went wrong? In actual fact, MILLIONS of consumers do this every day. Very often we will endure experiences that fail to meet our expectations but do NOTHING about it. Sometimes this is a conscious decision led by our reservations as humans – there are certain situations where providing feedback would be quite intimidating. For example, have you ever told a taxi driver that the experience the gave you was awful? I arrived at Chester station a few months ago and jumped in a ‘black cab’ – when I told the driver where I wanted to go, he sighed, tutted and swore. I wanted to tell him how that made me feel – but I was uncomfortable doing so. Would I get in his cab again – absolutely not. I know I am not alone – yet when we do NOTHING about bad experiences, those delivering the experience are very unlikely to change their behaviour.
If we just accepted bad manners; bad behaviour; poor service; people failing to do what they said they would – we would live in an environment where companies could genuinely do WHATEVER they wanted to consumers. Those who say they ‘do not care’ about customer experience are actually making life more difficult for everyone else – they are lulling companies into a false sense of security – allowing companies to think that some of the things they do are acceptable – when in fact they are not.
When I hand over my hard earn cash, I expect the person that I am handing it over to will provide me with an experience that meets my needs and expectations. I do not want to pay money to a grumpy, ungrateful taxi driver. I do not want to eat food in a restaurant occupied by disinterested, rude waiting staff. I do not want to fly with airlines who could not care less how they treat me. I know for a fact that there are many people all over the world who agree with…. and others who do not.
Even if you are someone who does not believe that Customer Experience is a profession, you may be interested in considering it as a MOVEMENT. The Customer Experience Movement has been building and growing for many years. Facilitated by technology making it easier for us, the consumer, to say what we really think, more and more people all over the world are no longer accepting experiences that DO NOT meet their expectations. Not only will they not accept it, they will hold the ‘guilty’ part to account so the rest of the world can see. As people realise that we should not; and do not have to put up with unacceptable experiences, organisations are slowly waking up to the importance that the Customer Experience will have on their future.
It is not a right to have customers. Continuing to have customers willing to interact with you is not something that can or should ever be taken for granted. True Customer Experience Professionals are doing a fantastic job of helping businesses across all sectors to understand this. They are doing an even better job of bringing Customer Experience to the attention of business leaders across the globe. Through the development of methodologies, tools, techniques and competencies, they are demonstrating that just TALKING about Customer Experience means nothing. Enabling an organisation to change the way it thinks and acts when considering what it does for its customers is underpinned by a real set of skills – not skills that can be learned from a textbook – but skills that are honed and sharpened by putting them in to practice and generating tangible; demonstrable improvements in the Customer Experience.
If no-one cared about Customer Experience, the world would be a very difficult place to get things done. Companies would expect us, the consumer, to interact with them entirely on their terms. They would almost consider us, the consumer, to be the fortunate ones for being able to buy products and services from them. This would be a world where a promise meant nothing and we as people would not be valued. If we, the customer do not feel valued, it is then highly unlikely that employees would be either.
I do not like the sound of that world. That is why I do what I do. I am not an evangelist. I am not a politician. I am not trying to change the world. What I am doing is trying to help those who want it to understand how to refocus their organisation on being better at interacting with PEOPLE – customers and employees. They want help because they recognise that the future of their businesses depends on it – and the fact that it is just a sensible way to run a business. Those who do not care – or do not want to change they way they do business – feel free to carry on as usual. Ultimately, I and millions of others will eventually find someone who does what you do and is willing to put me at the centre of their world.
Great article, I thought you might go into your war stories of customer experience, but I am sure we all have a few of those!! I wonder what you think the primary drivers are behind a trend that seems to me sees more people becoming aware of customer experience management and the professionals behind it? My opinion is that companies are generally looking for new ways to compete by differentiating themselves and there is a push on the consumer side from social media, showing that bad experiences can suddenly become more visible to a lot more people. I think another element is that people sharing positive experiences can lead to businesses becoming more successful, I know TripAdvisor has it doubters but there must be a link between better reviews and increasing revenue and customer loyalty, I suppose the point is that companies need to encourage all kinds of feedback.
Many thank as always for taking the time to read and respond to my posts Ian. I very much agree with you. We are very much in a world where it is increasingly difficult to differentiate on product, service and price alone. For the reasons you state, differentiation is now necessary by enabling customers to access great products and services as EASILY as possible whilst leaving customers FEELING great about the whole experience. There are still many doubters, but more and more are recognising the significance and influence improving the end to en experience can have on sustainable growth!
I have tried to add some comments here on Friday, but … not working. Quite negative CX 😉 Cheers, Piotr
Hi Piotr – unfortunately my site was hacked last week – hence you not being able to get in – I am so sorry for the inconvenience. If you still feel able, I would love to know your thoughts!!!
I know you are still having issues being able to post your comment Piotr, so as agreed, I am posting it for you as follows:
“I do second all the findings & conclusions. Still I truly believe there is a clear BUSINESS reason for taking care for the customers, that goes along with the sheer logic of doing (any) business. Recently I have found a great quote from billquiseng.com, that points that bold and straightforward: „Keep saying to Your Customers ’That’s not my job’ and soon enough You’ll wish it was because You won’t have one”. Well, Customers, these are your Assets.”
Hi Ian, thanks for posting – I do not blame You. As we can see technology is not always supporting CX 😉