What Powers Excellence in Customer Experience Management?

I was one of the four speakers on the speaker panel yesterday at the Technology For Marketing & Advertising conference/Exhibition in London. Our conversation centred on the shift that IT vendors are making from calling their software CRM to labelling it CEM. The first question that by Neil Davey (editor of MyCustomer.com) asked centred on what the discipline of CEM involves. That is what I want to grapple with today.

What does the discipline of CEM involve?

It occurs to me that there is a discipline called marketing, one called finance, another called logistics. Is there a discipline called CEM? I say there is not. There is a movement that is sometimes called CEM. And today it is just that – a movement. It occurs to me that a movement is distinct from a discipline.

So let’s assume that there is a disciple of CEM. Put differently, lets assume that the Tops decide to play the Customer Experience game. So the question arises, what does it take for their organisation to excel at this game and generate happy customers, and profitable revenues?

Looking at the situation simplistically, it occurs to me that it takes the following:

1. Generating rich insight into the needs of buyers/customers;

2. Choosing a value proposition that speaks to (attracts) these buyers/customers; &

3. Designing and delivering a customer experience that fulfils on the promise made in the value proposition.

If we want to get into the detail of what it takes to generate rich insight, shape the value proposition, and deliver the customer experience that fulfils on the promise of the value proposition then I say that the levers are:

Priorities: what matters, what is talked about, what it given attention, what is fed with resources, what gets done, what gets rewarded, what gets celebrated….

Policies: statements of intent, of direction, of position, of fundamental principles that shape behaviour/action

Practices: policies get enacted (lived, carried out) or not through the practices of the organisation; there are practices around decision-making, resource allocation, customer, employees etc

People: it is not sufficiently appreciated that ALL that occurs in an organisation occurs through people and as such the stance, the disposition, the attitudes, the feelings, the behaviours of people matter!

Platforms: platforms are a combination of resources/tools that are brought together to enable the people in the organisation to do what they need to do – budgets, processes, tools, and IT systems are key ingredients of that which collectively make up platforms.

I am clear that whilst all of this is necessary it is not enough. The elixir that gives life and enables all of this to work, to flourish, and thus generate the desired performance is missing. Can you guess what it is?

Does excellence in the game of Customer Experience require a change in consciousness?

I say that excellence in the game of Customer Experience requires a change of consciousness. Specifically, it requires a step change in consciousness. It occurs to me that the kind of change of consciousness that I am pointing out can be likened to phase transitions: like ice becoming water or water becoming steam. Notice, that ice, water, and steam are distinct.

So what kind of consciousness is required for excellence in the game of Customer Experience? The following occur to me when I pose this question to myself:

Consciousness of customers as fellow human beings who are always experiencing, including experiencing whether they are safe, whether they matter, whether they are cared for..

Consciousness of employees as fellow human beings, our team mates and source of all the value that is created by the organisation. And not as resources/objects/commodities that come in the awkward human form and as such have to be manipulated, controlled, coerced, used, discarded…

Consciousness of the fact that the only relationship that really works, in the longer term and leads to high performance, between human beings is that which is an I-Thou relationship as opposed to the default of I-It.

Consciousness of the profound difference between competing at the level of ‘product’ plus service and competing on the basis of the customer experience. A paperback book and friendly service at the counter is radically different from finding a book and seconds later reading it on the Kindle, or iPhone, or iPad, or all of them!

What do you say?

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