Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What I took away from Chapter 7

Just done with the two day Custommerce National Convention Chapter 7. Wonderful event. Good speakers and some key insights.

Experience is clearly here to stay. Heard from the speakers: “Business IS Experience”.  Focus on growth, scale and acquisitions, probably drives attention away from delivering critical and promised customer experience. Data presented to establish the co-relationship between great customer experience and bottom lines. The focus on customer experience is a new way of doing business.  More data and some hilarious anecdotal evidence showing how companies promise an experience only to deceive.
Bruce Temkin first articulated the thought of experience as a differentiator in 2007. Having said which generating a desired experience and using that to differentiate is as old as marketing thought , as old as positioning, as old as differentiation itself, or any of the core tenets of marketing. Closer to home Servion articulated the thought of customer experience as the key differentiator at the time of creating its contact optimization model.

Employees are critical to the process of creating a differentiated customer experience at the service point. The examples were uplifting particularly in the case of the Taj employees under attack on 26/11. There is a moment in every conference where the entire crowd is caught up in it mind heart and soul – and I must say that that moment belonged to the Taj. Much is spoken and written about employee engagement and empowerment in this space – there has been little measurable action on the ground.  Senior management sit up and take notice.  Pushing out the vision around the desired experience to the employees and translating it into behaviour on the ground is YOUR job.

Sub context – that of alignment. Every part of the organization needs to align to the thought and goals of the thought of customer experience.  Enough examples of great copy and tag lines and completely divergent behaviour on the ground. Not surprising – each of us as customers experiences this dissonance every day between what the brand promises and how we get treated by our service providers.
Last and not least was the thought around change. Change IS the only constant.  Lot of insights around changing generations (X,Y,C), changing ecosystem (connected, mobile), changing information/media eco-system (ability to blast dissatisfaction across thousands in seconds) Increasing disloyalty. Startling fact – 75% of SATISFIED customers changed their brands! Scary!!

Going out on a limb:  “the changing nature of the human being” is something that is wrongly ascribed (IMHO) solely to all these ecosystem factors and changing technology. Mostly we (businesses) TEACH customers to be disloyal!  Every day in every way most of my service providers tell me that I am in NO way benefitted by being an old and loyal customer. “Change brands as often as you can” - they tell me. And who am I to resist?! J

Reflects the core points made by all the speakers. Too much focus on scale, growth, acquisition and practically everything at the cost of experience.  Disengaged, un-empowered employees consistently fail to internalize and deliver the promised experience.  Non-aligned (desirable as a mechanism of foreign policy perhaps, but here, disastrous!) structures, systems and processes.  Teaches little old me to be disloyal!

The views expressed are mine, ONLY mine, and nobody else can be put in jail for them! 

G.Shankaran Nair
President - Corporate Strategy
Servion Global Solutions