What is customer experience? Is it a framework, concept, technology, journey mapping, soft skills training? Welcome to customer experience 1.0. In the absence of a clear definition, 1.0 has been subject to multiple and often incomplete characterizations. Early on, companies tested different programs, but they did not always deliver the desired results.
Customer experience 1.0 was focused mostly on the “What?” and, to a lesser degree, on the “Why?” As a result, an important evolution was achieved but not without some casualties. Lacking a clear strategic framework, customer experience practitioners have led vague initiatives and frustrated their CFOs by not delivering on investments.
“We have spent several years researching and developing a customer experience program,” a customer experience leader of a top-flight U.K. insurance company told us. “All we have is a bunch of presentations but nothing to show for in terms of results.” A recent article in Strategy + Business magazine validated that very issue, noting that many books on the subject discuss cool ideas but fail to deliver a disciplined approach to strategy development or measurable results.
A recent report by Forrester marked the first attempt to evaluate customer experience transformation companies and to bring some order to this evolving market. (This writer’s company, Strativity Group, was included in the Forrester report.) The report was timely because customer experience leaders and chief customer officers are under growing pressure to develop and deliver measurable results.
Welcome to customer experience 2.0, in which companies no longer are willing to jump on the latest cool idea bandwagon. “Let’s copy Starbucks.” “Let’s imitate Disney.” “Zappos is the new model.” Nowadays, companies demand a disciplined, strategic approach that paves a clear road to success. They expect reliability and results, not merely hype and buzz. The new criteria for customer experience 2.0 include:
• definition and linkage to brand promise;
• a holistic approach that covers all aspects of customer experience;
• development of a clear business case;
• linkage to the corporate strategy and its financial objectives;
• operational action plan that includes all touch points in the organization;
• employee engagement programs;
• governance model to continue the momentum; and
• technology infrastructure to support the strategy execution.
Customer experience 1.0 was driven by research, but 2.0 will require a more well-rounded approach. The days of settling for a customer experience journey or another voice of customer program and then declaring victory are gone. Both voice of customer and customer experience journey mapping are important steps in the complete customer experience strategy. However, they no longer are sufficient.
To reach its rightful position in the corporate agenda, customer experience must be given more weight by companies. Transparency of program, clarity of strategic plan, and accountability to measurable results all will play a critical role in 2.0 programs. CFOs and CEOs will demand that their customer experience strategies be based on facts and results.
In many ways, the entire evolution is quite natural. In moving from infancy toward maturity, a new discipline must demonstrate reliability of execution, and 2.0 is all about execution. We have come a long way in developing customer experience. The new era is a welcome change, because it will bring not only greater demands but also more resources and investment. Now we need to make sure we grow and adapt accordingly.
Lior Arussy is the president of Strativity Group, a global customer experience research and consulting firm. He is the author of Customer Experience Strategy—The Complete Guide From Innovation to Execution (2010).