Customer Experience is a waste of time – part 3

Is the problem Customer Experience itself or the way in which it’s being done? 

In part 3 we look at Maturity, CET vs. CEM and CX done as an IT/ Systems implementation. 

5. Maturity

This certainly isn’t intended to be a slur on the emotional maturity of an organisation, rather an observation as to how ‘ready’ it is to embark upon a customer experience transformation journey. An analogy I often use to demonstrate this is by asking:

“You want to race, but how close to the starting line are you?”.

There are fundamental building blocks that any organisation needs to have in place in order to carry out successful customer experience transformation activities. The ‘readiness’ of these building blocks can be assessed using a number of different models, including the 7S model, which considers Strategy, Shared Values, Skills, Structure, Systems, Staff and Style.

Without all of these elements being at a requisite standard of maturity, any wide-scale customer experience transformation activity conducted within the organisation is likely to fail, if not immediately, over time.

6. CET vs. CEM

One key consideration is the lack of differentiation between transformation & management. This is something rarely discussed, even in Customer Experience circles. These terms are all-too-often used and even practiced interchangeably.

Logic dictates that when customer experiences are poor, they must first be changed before they can be managed on an ongoing basis. This being the case, transformation needs to happen before management. However there are many instances where organisations will leap headlong into ‘CEM’ before considering whether or what kind of change is needed.

Practitioners haven’t made it easy for the Customer Experience community either. There is no commonly recognised differentiation between transformation and management, with both bundled into the same category of CEM. At Jericho, we advocate use of the terms Customer Experience Transformation and Customer Experience Management as separate concepts.

Most Customer Experience consultancies focus primarily on CET, whereas most solution-providers focus on CEM. The problem is that these two groups compete with each other, when they really shouldn’t. It isn’t necessarily a conscious intention for these groups to compete, but nevertheless it happens.

Say, for example, a company executive recognises that their organisation has a problem with customer experience and they have been charged with addressing it. Not necessarily having a great deal of information about how to the resolve the issue, they do a little research and are faced with the prospect of a number of different potential options, including consultancy support and IT solutions.

Not wanting to take a risk with their choice of these options, it is understandable that the executive might choose the solution over the consultancy, as with an IT implementation project there is a ‘tangible’ tool that can be seen and utilised as a result of the expenditure and effort. With consultancy projects however, there is a perception that, depending on who has delivered the project, the output might potentially range between a PowerPoint presentation (at most conceptual) to an ill-conceived ‘initiative’ that might fail a number of months down the line. Over the past 50 years, the big 6 consultancies have not left our industry with the best of reputations!

In reality, however, the organisation needs both transformation and management. And as much as IT solutions providers would like to claim they are able to deliver the former, this is not the case….

7. CX done as an IT/ Systems implementation

Systems implementations are great; and they can definitely have a positive impact upon customer experience; however, as mentioned in the previous section, they are more about management than they are about transformation. They happen at a different time and they have a different focus. There are a couple of examples that demonstrate these points well.

Over the years, Jericho has worked with a number of different IT solutions providers. One of these companies had a senior executive responsible for customer experience who was of the view that Customer Experience consultancy was ‘wishy washy’ and a waste of time, advocating that an IT solution implementation could easily take the place of consultancy activity.

When we asked this individual about the areas of CX that a solution was not able to touch upon, such as strategy, business culture and transformation, they stated that an IT implementation covers transformation; as the processes put in place for the system implementation supplant the need for organisational change; and that from a cultural perspective, the implementation of the system “makes frontline teams happy” as it provides them with a tool that makes it easier for them to do their job. Although there may be some small elements of truth in these statements, we certainly don’t agree with this rather simplistic take.

Another IT provider we have worked with found that, although there was some benefit in offering their clients consultancy services, the challenge came with the different sales cycles of consultancy and solution. By its very nature, the consultancy work has to happen well in advance of the IT implementation. As mentioned earlier, transformation happens before management, and in this case, strategy needs to happen before implementation. In our experience, the sale of consultancy work ideally needs to be happening 18-24 months in advance of the sale of an IT tool.

This was a major challenge for the IT solutions provider’s sales teams, who were charged with the sale of both consultancy services and IT solutions. As a IT company, their main focus was, of course, on selling the solution, so their sales people typically looked to ‘bundle’ the consultancy services in with the solutions. Naturally this wasn’t particularly effective given the timescales of the different sales cycles.

Fundamentally, something ‘strategic’ such as Customer Experience needs to belong in the hands of the more commercially minded individuals within the organisation, so including customer experience as part of any IT project is more likely to lessen the success of the activity.

(sections 8 – 10 to follow!)