That Many Ways to Improve Customer Experience

by Fred Zimny

January 29, 2015

Fred Zimny writes at Serve4Impact

2015 seems to be a challenging year, is it not? Only one month old and some underlying trends of 2014 become more and more clear. For me, the ability the grasp the concept of digital transformation and digital leadership seems to be best investment to create benefits for the forthcoming years.

Windmill

Digital transformation and customer experience are closely related. Is it not digital (in its broadest sense) that changed customer service? In the 80’s call centers and CRM and then afterwards emerging new channels als websites, webshops and email and now mobile, big data and social media.

Some of you will claim that it all is about hype, spoken out by consultants-fashionistas. For people like Andy and me, new technologies are not new ways of window-dressing. New technologies enables us to get closer to leads andcustomers.

From a management perspective, there are many possibilities to transform the offered customer experience. Always keep in mind that these possibilities are related and that with the right tweaking you can create optimal value.

Outside in

For me being able to understand the customer needs is a prerequisite. This is not about CRM or community management. This is about a fundamentalunderstanding of the customer’s emotional and functional needs.  As customers live in the real world, it also implies a sense of what is happening in your customer’s world. Design thinking with  its concept of empathy and service design with its promise to adapt organization‘s are great tools.  Be aware that there is a giant gap between what organizations say that they do with customer experience (in their strategy documents) and what they actually do in their operations.

Reach for the stars

Even better, get as close as possible to your customers. This does not always imply aggressively investing in digital assets. The impact of your efforts counts. For me, freemium technologies are often perfect ways to get a better understanding of customers.

Data is not knowledge (yet)

How do data support your possibilities to improve the customer experience.  Because everything and everybody has become digital, enormous amounts of data are available at anyone’s fingertips. Data are also one of the building blocks to design experiences. Data enable you to formulate predictions and sharpen – again, again and again- your hypothesis of the real world and your customers. To achieve fundamental understanding and thus a better understanding, organizations and professionals have to alter their learning processes. No longer you can rely on limited – well-structured – sources and volumes.

Where two worlds collide

Persons, companies and institutions all operate in ecosystems with a blend of offline and online channels. Physical outlets, mobile, social, phones, face to face, e-mail, websites, webforms and so on.  Designing, developing and improving true omni-channel experiences has become an immense challenge. Get all stakeholders in the various silo’s on board, create that vision and willingness to change and start the renewing of the operations and organization. Do not make a mess of it; mesh creatively the digital world (often the most important for your customers) with the remains of the old world.  And be aware that there is no equilibrium;  change will happen in a permanent way so adapt the practice of continuous innovation

On the road to

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote

“What lies behind you, and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you”.

Is it not also your belief that we all will be able to deliver a better customer experience in the next few years?

About 

Entrepreneur, executive, leader, manager, professional and startups all into service.
Fascinated by start-ups and entrepreneurs into service design, service management and service innovation.