Customer Experience Management is hip and happening, every brand seems to be working with buyer persona’s, customer journeys and data driven marketing. However, in our attempt to improve the customer’s experience we tend to forget that our customer is not a generated set of analysed data, our customer is not a “type”, our customer does not equal a like or a follower. No! He or she is an actual human being with a set of opinions, things to do and other (mini or maxi, for that matter) human beings to take care of. Our customer has an opinion about us, our company, our service and our offering but he or she does not live and breathe thinking about us, our company and our service and how we should do our jobs better.
For example, last week my 4 year old had a party at her school and she was supposed to dress up in a spring or circustheme. She loves to dress up, as any 4 year old does, and I of course wanted to get her the coolest dress ever. Being a mumpreneur and all, time is well..somewhat limited so I ordered a springfairy costume online. Surely I ordered the coolest dress and flowery hairband you have ever seen but right after I paid the thing, all kinds of questions went through my mind: “will she like it?” “will her friends like it?” but mostly “will it be here in time for the party?” “and if not, what the heck am I going to do?” So, you get the state I was in, when I received an email asking for my opinion about ordering at this specific online store before the actual package was delivered! Of course all is well that ends well and luckily the package arrived shortly after this wrongly timed email, giving my 4 year old “customer” the perfect opportunity to say the dress was far too beautiful to wear to a school party…..and that she was going to wear her old fairy costume instead!
Customer Experience Management and Design Thinking are expensive words for methods that offer tools to improve your product or service taking your customer(‘s opinion) into account. By visualizing and analyzing our ideal customers (personas) we can get a better understanding of what drives them in life, we get a better understanding of what pains them and therefore what we can do to take away their pains and make them excel in what they do. Understanding them better and actually getting inside their mind and heart is more a matter of listening than speaking, it is more about receiving than sending information and it is more about asking than replying to questions. But as shown in the fairydress example it is about finding the right timing too.
The way most customer experiences are managed nowadays is more about getting feedback from the customer after the fact (e.g. a new feature has been released, a button on the website has changed or a new service has been added to the porfolio) than anticipating on the customer’s needs beforehand .
Another example, a software company builds in a new feature in their software. A good client has said that they really need this button to be added or that they need a new functionality in the reporting. So the accountmanager talks to development asking for this feature. The developer replies that he actually does not have time but if this is very important to the client; yes of course we can make time. A month later the new button or functionality is released and proudly presented to the rest of the team and clients. The client that has requested it uses this feature but no one else seems to be interested. The new feature remains therefore unused in the system. These kind of excercises that are a waste of time, energy and money on the one and are not generating any extra revenue or happy customers on the other hand, are happening a lot. People tend to be unhappy in their jobs, since they are making things that no one is even looking at and the next time a customer asks for a favor, the team will tend to decline before they even know what it is all about.
Finally it tends to be all about data. Don’t get me wrong, I love data and I am all for using data to validate assumptions or doing research. But we tend to go overboard with this marketing automation thing. People are people, we are not numbers or algorithms. We cannot be put in a box. As a “mumpreneur”, living in Amsterdam West and with a “flexible” income and dito time, I shop at different shops. Sometimes I go to Albert Heijn and Etos and other times I go for the Lidl and the Kruidvat. I love books, novels as well as business books. I read the paper, but not every day (no time) and I drive but prefer to bike whenever possible. My profile, so I noticed, is confusing for algorithms and data driven marketing. So I tend to get the wrong deals in my email or banners which is annoying.
In my humble opinion, proper customer experience management should be all about cocreating (business and customer together) the ultimate customer experience, anticipating on what is to come. This work will then result in a new design, feature or service that your customer actually wants( to pay for) and that your company actually needs and has the resources or budget for. In turn your business can focus on making improvements where it matters to both customer and business, designing the ultimate and people first cusomter experience possible.