Brands with the strongest customer experience management process in place, don’t just let it happen!

C-levels, top managers, senior executives, need to understand this challenge. Does it make sense to manage, “improve,” and measure customer experience on processes and products there were never designed with customer experience in mind?

I spent years helping my clients on projects to improve the experiences of their customers. Now, I’m sure on a specific fact: you must first define the experience you want to deliver, and then fix the rest accordingly. You must be disruptive and innovative and managing each customer journey in real-time.

First of all, does it make sense to invest money listening to the voice of your customers if the insights don’t change the experience we deliver them? Absolutely no! Does it make sense to invest money in customer experience management? In a survey of over one thousand companies by communications provider Avaya an astounding 81% indicated that their customer experience improvement programs had failed to deliver results. Why should we invest money when our chances to succeed are less than 20%?

Are you impressed by the failure rate? The real question is: what makes the 20% successful? What is the difference between companies managing customer experience successfully, and those failing?

One particular story intrigued me. In the year Apple introduced the iPhone, Nokia was investing very heavy in the voice of the customer surveys, customer panels, customer satisfaction, and Net Promoter Score. There was no lack of intent for Nokia to spend in understanding how the customer was changing. But despite those investments, Nokia miserable fail.

Brands with the most robust customer experiences don’t just let it happen — they are proactive and innovative to create forward-thinking customer solutions. Investing in understanding customers is just a piece of the puzzle. The significant effort is to be brave enough to challenge and change the status quo. Become customer-centric, change the rules of engagement, go out of the usual comfort zone of top managers; in a few words, take risks. The risk, for instance, to launch a different mobile phone experience (Apple) or a bank/credit card experience (Revolut).

DISCLAIMER: I don’t recommend and neither endorse Revolut. The reason I picked up this example is to talk about their onboarding customer journey and their mobile app, nothing else.

The success of a piece of technology such as the iPhone is something we don’t need to comment further. But how can you change a yearly consolidated experience of opening a bank account and get a credit card? Talking on a Customer Experience Management point of view, how can you re-engineer the onboarding journey opening a bank account and get a prepaid card? Let me tell you my story. My kids recommended me Revolut a kind of prepaid card with, according to them (my kids), a different customer experience, and a lot of benefits in terms of costs saving. I gave it a try, downloaded the app, and immediately go through the onboarding journey. After 15 minutes, I was able to use the virtual card to buy online products, and after ten days, I got the physical card in my mailbox. All of this paired with a powerful app with lots of excellent features getting an incredible mix of analog- and digital experience.

I was thinking about what impressed my experience, what makes me say to myself “wow!”, and set new expectations in the “opening bank account/getting prepaid card” onboarding journey. I think I can summarize my positive feeling reducing my personal experience to two dimensions: SIMPLICITY and VELOCITY. The onboarding process was incredibly simple, no particular effort from my side, and the whole journey took approximately 15 minutes. Wow! Something different from the usual onboarding journey it was delivered in the past by other banks. (I avoid to call them “conventional banks.” I don’t want to provide them with a good excuse to explain their inability to deliver the same experience!) The WOW effect I got from Revolut is a mix of SIMPLICITY and VELOCITY. An explosive mix challenging the status quo and disrupt an existing and consolidated process to onboard the customer. Delivering this wow effect to someone born in Switzerland, the “banks’ Country” is something unusual.

Moreover, the Revolut experience set to me new benchmarking standards. If you (Swiss Banks) want me to subscribe to a new credit card, SIMPLICITY and VELOCITY are the two criteria I will use to judge my experience. Be careful; the onboarding journey is the one that has a strong effect on my long-term memory (D. Kahneman, 2010) — associating your brand to my positive sentiment and emotions. It will be the hardest to modify in the future of my customer relationship with your brand.

What makes Revolut so different from other competitors in the banking industry? I call it the “outside-in” thinking. Companies like Revolut challenge the status quo. They are outside-in focus companies, they start all their thinking with the customer first, and what kind of experience they want to deliver to their customers. They don’t start with the product itself and try to accommodate it to whatever type of experience. (inside-out)

Inside-out is the opposite; for instance, Nokia at the time of the first iPhone launch. Inside-out companies start internally assessing what they have in place and then try to accommodate process with a new language. But how can you be disruptive try to modify processes were never designed to deliver experiences? Those processes are created with a product-centric mindset. Everything fine-tuned around production line thinking, throughput, and waste.

Be successful in delivering and managing new customer experiences is much more than try to accommodate your existing processes. It is more than change your customer communications. It is about thinking differently: move from inside-out to outside-in, do business in a different way you did it so far.

Unfortunately, 80% of the companies in this world still think they can fine-tune their existing processes. They can slightly modify communications to their customers, and change the language inside their organizations. They are so arrogant to offer ‘new’ experiences on top of their existing process infrastructures and legacy IT systems hacked for that purpose. The hard reality, in 80% of the cases they fail, miserably.

C-levels, top managers, senior executives, need to understand this challenge. Does it make sense to manage, “improve,” and measure customer experience on processes and products there were never designed with customer experience in mind?

The real challenge is starting ‘outside-in’ thinking. Start from a bright design of the experience you want your customers to pass through (e.g., onboarding Revolut experience). Understand who your customers are. What kind of experiences you want them to pass through. What kind of moments of truth they will experience on that journey, what type of information they need, and how to make that journey as fast and straightforward as possible. In a few words, what does success look like for your customer? Then align your people, your processes, and your IT infrastructure to deliver successful customer experiences.

To be successful, you need to rethink what customer experience is all about and its implications on your organization and your whole Company’s culture. Are you a c-level? Do you think you can bring in this paradigm shift in your Company? No? Then don’t do it, the chance to fail is 80%. You are merely going to put lipstick on a pig. You are going to measure how much lipstick changes the satisfaction of your customers.

At the other end, those organizations that are taking the outside-in approach will help their customers enjoy simpler, faster, and successful experiences. They will win in terms of customer satisfaction and for the bottom line.

So, are you thinking outside-in or inside-out? Are you trying to put lipstick on the pig? Or are you changing the world of your customers, making it simpler and faster?

81% CXM Projects fail to deliver results
Federico Cesconi

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