by Dr. Rob Nelson –
By now, most organizations have received “the memo”: customer experience is more important now than ever to customers. It is not a B2B thing or a B2C thing. It IS a customer thing. Frankly, it is a business survival thing. While it may be the very top of mind for marketing, it is a top priority topic for every executive.
The events of the beloved, coronavirus packed year of surprises — 2020 — fueled digital transformation, e-commerce and accelerated the widespread adoption of technology. It also changed the paradigm of customer experience and engagement. In just those seemingly forever months of “lock-down,” we experienced a drastic shift in customer preferences, behaviors, and routines. Plus, the incredible convergence of marketing and technology in today’s market means that customer relationships, brands, and business are based on experiences more than anything. All of it is aimed at making life better: safer, more comfortable, more productive, and satisfying. Today’s customers need and expect simple, frictionless, fast, enjoyable, meaningful experiences delivered responsively in real-time – the moment and personalized.
But many companies lack the integrated capabilities, data and insight to genuinely deliver on consumer’s changing needs. They have not yet mapped out “the jobs the customer wants to be done” and the related jobs the organization must do effectively to produce that winning experience throughout the lifecycle of the customer journey. Many struggle to know what kind of experience their customers are having, let alone proactively design a holistic experience. A critical challenge is to leverage crucial business model components around needs and jobs to be done using customer data and insights to design and deliver real-time actions and intelligent decisions that drive customer acquisition, retention wallet share, retention, loyalty, and the every sought, advocacy. The good old concept is still true – it is still the primary job of getting, keeping customers, profitably— but it is just a lot more complicated. The reality in this “minds and machines” intelligent universe, the present-future of Customer Experience, is predictive, real-time, and personalized.
Let’s consider some customer experience trends as we emerge from the world of everything gone crazy in the socially distant, contactless world of pandemics.
- Customer experience is more important than ever to customers.(mic drop). No, really!
- It’s a black box. If AI is a black box so has been customer experience. We still struggle at defining what Customer Experience means. But let’s agree on one thing it is not: customer service. Truly understanding, designing and delivering winning customer experience requires seeing the bigger picture and building the requisite customer-centric culture, processes, and technology (more on that in just a moment).
- Who is in charge of customer experience anyway? Studies show that only 16% have customer experience teams with dedicated budgets. Only 23% have a customer experience leader that reports to the CEO.
- Your success strategy is wholly intertwined with a Customer Experience strategy for 2021 and beyond. We have pressed the limits of our business models, channels, and full-on omnichannel transformation. 78% of customers preferred to use different channels depending on their context1. Responding to this demand seamlessly in a frictionless and consistent manner is no easy task – and it does not happen by luck. So, honestly, how do you deliver what customers need and want in 2021 and beyond?
- The paradigm has shifted: ya think? Customers expect hyper-personalization, contactless and self-service options, and a genuinely omnichannel, integrated experience. Thank you, Coronavirus, for your helping nudge. From telehealth to meal-delivery: we have all know the accelerated metrics of growth of digital business transformation.
- It is still about relationships but more. Customer Experience is indeed more about relationships versus transactions. Customers are paying attention to you and assessing your brand. How well do you know them, anticipate their needs, empathize with them? If your processes are inhuman – how on earth can your delivery (haphazardly)of an experience be successful when evaluated against a human scale. Empathy will be a top customer experience metric. Emotive technology will become increasingly important in the customer experience design model.
- Experience isn’t enough anymore. The expectation now is to deliver INCREDIBLE and INTIMATE. Maintaining and accelerating momentum in 2021 is critical. If Covid pressed you to innovations and business model disruption, this is the time to push further to the next evolution. And, Experience will finally – it hasn’t yet for you – become a “whole team game.”
- Driving to personalization and hyper-personalization and the optimal customer experience requires partnership with customers built on Trust. This includes being transparent and up-front about the use of data and your intentions. Relationships are built on Trust.
- Customer Loyalty and retention are more important than ever. The good news is AI/Machine learning can really help us out here.
- The “ZERO Customer Experience” is when zero thinking by the customer by outsourcing individual decisions to intelligent machines. More of that, freaky and or creepy as it may seem sometimes. Remember, paradigms are shifting.
Faced with this reality about the demands of Customer Experience, what should we do? Well, many things that involve your entire business model should be considered. But, let’s start with some baseline priorities:
- Do you know your customers? Have you correctly set up your top 3-5 personas? Have you decided on your key segments, and do you know them? Do you have empathy maps?
- Do you know the jobs they are trying to get done throughout their entire journey with you? What are their experience expectations? What are the gaps? How are you doing? Are you losing prospects or customers along the way? Why?
- Do you truly understand what your organization must to meet and deliver on the “jobs to be done” and the desired experience?
Even if you said yes to all or most of the above. Let me ask again: Really?
Consider the Customer xDNA, a framework that will help you organize your thinking about how to think about customer experience management. Have you indeed mapped and visualized your customer jobs to be done? By segment?
Why DNA? Because the DNA is a double helix, it’s an; it’s two strands interwoven. We have another analogy of two strands of actions. There’s the customer action strand and the organizational action strand.
It should be no surprise that your effort must start with segmentation and persona development. Customer first, right? Yet, in all my years of working with organizations, including dozens of start-ups as well as large privately and publicly held firms, I have found this to be one of the top two stumbling blocks I’ve seen firms struggle with. The other is a lack of focus.
So, what does the Customer xDNA4 mean from that perspective:
Strand A: Focus on the customer the jobs they want to be done:
The prospect / customer is going through a series of steps or stages in their journey with your firm, on their experience that begins with discovery, and then learning about the problem that they have, looking at the evaluation of parts of possible solutions to their problem or the product/solution that they’re looking for, then there’s the actual purchase decision. And finally, there’s the usage and engagement with the product, and the company, and advocacy; if they’re happy with the experience. Each step of the way there are key jobs to be done.
Strand B: Focus on the organizational action:
Now, you obviously want to reach customers, to make them aware of your products and services and your brands, you want to acquire them, which means that you want to bring them on board, get them to sign up with you, get them to try your products/solutions, then you want to convert them into paying customers.
After you convert prospects into paying customers, you want to develop the customer relationship, get them to buy more frequently from you, buy more products from you, to increase the lifetime value. Next, you want to make sure that you retain your customer, that they don’t churn, that you don’t lose them. And finally, you want them to become loyal to you and advocate for your company or your brand or your products to other people. Each step along the way, you have jobs to be done. And, you much orchestrate all of this for the smooth, frictionless experience.
Now, with CxDNA in hand, you have a design-build problem.
You must design the experience and then build it and iterate and adapt over time. But like any killer value proposition, it must be focused on the jobs to be done. The solution must be integrated and holistic. With that said, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for getting to the CxDNA. Don’t discount the incredible win and value of actually visualizing this CxDNA and getting your entire organization on the same page about it and what it means and the opportunities it will drive. The process of designing, implementing then usually requires technology, strategy, and data and analytics capabilities. So, driving your solution through a digital transformation roadmap is an obvious next step or input.
This framework is also instrumental in driving AI strategy and opportunities and or supplementing with an AI and Automation Strategy and COE. Other considerations may be the need to build or bolster a Data Refinery, a Trusted Data Foundation, enabling real-time, streaming intelligent analytics, making your digital workforce and automation and center of excellence (COE), and even driving your new sources of innovation in your business model.
4 Best Practices for Creative Effective CxDNA
This is an exciting time for sure. We have been a bit through the fire this past year, but we have unleashed many chains, and opportunity abounds in a new paradigm.
Want to learn more? At RCG Global Services, we would love to help. Would you like to brainstorm with us? We have smart people, methods and tools and we will help you realize your customer experience and digital transformation ambitions.
2021 is a landmark year in the adventure into the new healthcare frontier of “healthcare unchained.”
- Customer Think (2020, Oct 11) "2021 Customer Experience Trends and Tactics" Retrieved from
- Forbes (2020, Dec 17) "Customer Experience Related Predictions for 2021" Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/adrianswinscoe/2020/12/17/11-customer-experience-related-predictions-for-2021/
- Steven Van Belleghem (2020, Dec 7) "8 Customer Experience Trends for 2021" Retrieved from https://www.stevenvanbelleghem.com/blog/8-customer-experience-trends-for-2021/
- The Customer xDNA framework has been developed by Dr. Mohanbir Sawhney at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL