Crafting an Exceptional Customer Experience. How Far Have We Really Come?

November 14 2012

Today, Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum opens in Los Angeles.  The agenda looks rock solid, with excellent speakers from top notch organizations and institutions, presenting a comprehensive view of what they’re calling a new imperative…a “new way to manage companies, looking deep into every process and incentive to see whether it supports the overall goal: to deliver a great customer experience.”

In reviewing the topics it seems hard to believe that “The Experience Economy” by Pine and Gillmore came onto the business scene some 13 years ago. They taught us all to get serious around the understanding that products and services alone were not the road to prosperity. Instead, experiences, they said, would be the economic engine of the future. Whether you completely agree, I think it is safe to say that a focus on customer experience can certainly make an organization more fit to compete, and if done well and uniquely, it can be the source of substantial competitive advantage.

Based on that, you would think we would be drowning in exceptional customer experiences. But alas, dissatisfaction still abounds and countless companies in countless industries continue to fall short. What’s the reason? Don’t they see the opportunity? Do they fail to look through the lens of the customer? Is it too difficult to figure out how to behave in ways that will make for a memorable and delightful experience? I’ve seen plenty of evidence to say that the answer is yes to all of these questions. And in truth, it isn’t easy. Designing experiences that anticipate the needs and exceed the desires of the human beings we serve is hard to do.

Much of our work in the past decade has been innovating around customer experience and we believe that begins and ends with a focus on behaviors, theirs and yours.  Start by seeking deep insights into patterns of human behavior; use those insights to inspire your organization to develop breakthrough products, programs and services, and most importantly to inspire the unique behaviors of your employees in delivering that experience.

This takes commitment, discipline and a systems view of your business. It means working from the inside out to design every possible interaction with your customers against a set of behavior-based experience principles. Is it worth the investment? We agree with our friend Dov Seidman of LRN, success will come to those who outbehave the competition. So our answer is yes. It may not be a new imperative and many have a long way to go, but we say “Yes!” to perfecting the customer experience.

Georgia Everse

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