This is a subject that I have been pondering on for a long while, and it is a subject that seems to really be at the forefront now in the face of our global crisis.
There is so much talk around what ‘Customer Experience’ means exactly. What actually does make up a Customer Experience leader? Is there need for ‘Customer Experience’ leadership or should all members of a leadership team embrace the customer and therefore drive customer centric values across each and every business function? As an industry, is this something that we are doing effectively?
The current global crisis has changed ‘Customer Experience’, potentially forever. What does the customers view of the world now look like with regards to expectations from product and service providers?
I was talking to a significant industry leader just yesterday about this specifically, and it was their view that ‘Customer Experience’ will be less important to customers post COVID19. Customers may not care about a ‘wow’ factor, as we go back to basics and provide products and services that provide value for money, with a service proposition that is top class. Cost will certainly be a factor, now and in the immediate future, post COVID19. How will our industry adapt to the differing customers views of the world? How will ‘Customer Experience’ as a function change to adapt to the new world?
Customer Experience has changed so much over the last decade, becoming much more sophisticated as a function, and becoming very popular for senior leaders and businesses to advocate. Customers have been really loyal to brands who have gone the extra mile and provided that ‘wow’ factor. Will customers now demand that the ‘bells and whistles’ are dropped, in favour of providing a more cost effective and basic customer service?
Also, it is the opinion of many individuals that the words ‘Customer Experience’ seem to have become ‘buzz words’ without any real meaning. Customer Experience Practitioners are popping up all over the place, without any real background in dealing with consumers. Businesses have been hiring Customer Experience leaders for a long while that actually have no real decision making capacity. Even hiring Customer Experience roles that have zero impact on making the ‘Customer Experience’ better at all.
I see both sides of the coin and there certainly are some businesses that have super slick Customer Experience functions, that do provide real value to the customer. Customers are becoming much more aware of companies social purposes and core ethics and values. Sustainability and the environment are becoming more and more important to customers, and businesses with good Customer Experience strategies are switched on to this. Still, many businesses do not use or harness data to their full potential, providing opportunity for Customer Experience leaders to really identify what matters to a customer and then make a business’ product and proposition more attractive to the customer.
Is Customer Experience really dead? Or is it just changing? Customer satisfaction is at its lowest since July 2015, as per The Customer Satisfaction Index, January 2020. Is this an opportunity for businesses to again differentiate against their competitors? Or is providing the most cost effective product or service going to be the most important differentiator moving forward?
Interested to hear your thoughts on this, and what the words ‘Customer Experience’ really mean to you and your organisation.
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Hannah-Louise Cox is a Senior Recruitment Consultant and Executive Search Consultant at Douglas Jackson specialising in recruiting executive level, senior Director and management appointments across operations, strategy, transformation, Customer Contact, Digital and Customer Experience.