2018 is the first calendar year in my career as a global customer experience specialist that I have looked forward more in hope than expectation. My last article of 2017 explained why I have a number of concerns regarding the evolution of Customer Experience around the world. So as I boarded my flight to Dubai on Monday morning, I did so with slightly lower levels of my usual optimism than normal. I would be in the vibrant city for the 3rd edition of the Gulf Customer Experience Awards – an event that I have had the honour of attending on the previous two occasions it has been held. Judging the annual celebration of excellence in the field of Customer Experience has become a firm fixture in my calendar – as has the equivalent event in the UK since 2010.
In my opinion, there is no better way to continue learning from and being inspired to keep developing your specialism, than having the ability to see the innovative and exciting ways different organisations are turning the theory of Customer Experience into practice. On CX Day, in October 2017, I wrote another article that started to voice my concerns about the ‘direction of travel’ for Customer Experience as a discipline and a profession. Having only recently attended the UK Customer Experience Awards, rather than be inspired, I was struck by the lack of genuine progress too many organisations, industries and countries have made over the last few years in changing the experiences customers have. Interestingly, the Gulf region has always been one that has promised so much more. If Dubai is an example of rapid hyper growth, than maybe it represents the hope I have that it and its neighbours will do the same to the profession that Customer Experience has become, as it has with the real estate industry.
One of the reasons that I have this hope, is that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also a very interesting case study for transforming customer centric thinking. Although not the first nation to do so (that honour falls to Bhutan), in 2016, authorities unveiled a ‘customer happiness formula’ to help government employees achieve the happiness goals under the UAE’s National Programme for Happiness and Positivity initiative.
“The launch of the Customer Happiness Formula highlights the government’s commitment to provide services that achieve customer happiness and ensure the happiness of the entire community. The formula is one of the comprehensive initiatives to develop government services and build effective partnerships between employees and customers by scientifically measuring the level of customer happiness,” Uhoud Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness
I don’t know about you, but I can think of a number of countries (including my own) that should take note of something like this. However (there is always one of those), it is easy to have the intention of creating ‘customer happiness’, but can it ever be taken seriously OR become an actual reality. In certain parts of the world, being the Minister of State for Happiness would not be a job to envy! What I was interested to understand as I entered the judging room this week, is whether or not the national intention has resonated with the private, as well as the public sector. As stated at the beginning of this article, I was not overly optimistic.
I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw. In fact, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I was blown away by the passion, enthusiasm, capability and competency of the six companies I had the genuine pleasure of judging. Not only does it appear that the spirit of ‘customer happiness’ has permeated many industries and sectors, the recognition that the happiness of both customers and employees can be realised with a focus on the learned skills and capabilities of the Customer Experience discipline, has restored my faith in its progression.
From healthcare, to consumer goods, to residential services, organisation after organisation presented initiatives and work that had been created and implemented to put the customer at the heart of their strategies. Many of them even used the language of ‘customer happiness’ in bringing their stories to life. Their achievements would potentially be award-winning anywhere in the world. The biggest shame is that only one company could win each category. In one of the categories I judged, all three finalists were worthy winners – not something I often have the pleasure of saying.
As I say, this week has restored my faith – my faith that the ever-growing global Customer Experience community IS still evolving customer centric thinking – tangibly and demonstrably. It has given me even more inspiration and desire to continue encouraging and supporting those who have stalled, or fallen behind. Every finalist at this addition of the Gulf Customer Experience Awards have full licence to be incredibly proud. It may seem like a cliché to say that ‘everyone should considers themselves to be a winner’ – but I really do mean it. These organisations have done their industries, their countries, their employees and their customers proud. The key now is to keep going – not to rest on laurels or bask in glory – but to keep continuously improving the Customer Experience so they can inspire others every year and for many years to come.
If you are interested in developing knowledge in the field of Customer Experience, I will be delivering the next two day masterclass in Dubai, in association with cxm.world on the 20th and 21st March. I will also be running a CCXP exam readiness workshop followed by a physical sitting of the exam on the 22nd March. If you would like to know more about either of these events, please contact Mark Hamill (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself (email@example.com)