Chaman MaharajChaman MaharajAugust 21, 2020
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9min1242

Customer experience ecosystems are complex and multifaceted, with multiple moving mechanisms across many organisational silos – each with their own set of values, beliefs and key performance indicators.

Carefully curated customer experience initiatives synchronise and steer these cross-functional team efforts towards a specific business goal – perhaps the most critical one of them all, the customer.

You see, customer experience begins with a brand promise. A brand promise is an organisation’s commitment to its customers. It is the ethos around which a brand is built and should be something everyone within the organisation is extremely proud of, and are always willing to be held accountable for.

Entrenched within this brand promise, is a set of core brand values that generally sets a brand apart from its competitors. It is through these elements of differentiation that a brand would have described unique brand attributes that customers can expect when they engage with them.

For example, if an organisation is in the business of supplying mobile internet, they may promise their customers ‘always-on’ connectivity and ‘high-speed’ mobile data. Their customers in-turn, will naturally develop expectations of always being connected to the internet, at high speeds of data transmission. Anything short of that will render their cumulative customer experience initiatives baseless and should be something they go to great lengths to avoid.

In fact, in the context of the South African telecommunications industry, one of our pan-African mobile network providers incurred more than R300 million ($17 million) in costs for back-up power supplies to their mobile network infrastructure in 2018, to honour similar brand promises and keep their customers connected during our rotational ‘load-shedding’ or planned disruptions in our local electricity supply.

These expectations that customers develop leads me to the first of the six core competencies of customer experience and as my mentor has been famously quoted for saying,

A jigsaw puzzle is an extremely good analogy for the customer experience – you can only see the picture if you put the pieces of the puzzle together. ~ Ian Golding

Please allow me to explain…

1. Customer Experience Strategy

A brand’s customer experience strategy is a carefully crafted narrative, developed to respond to those customer expectations that were created through a brand promise. This should ideally describe the intended experience, the emotional response a brand intends to elicit from their customers, and mobilise the resources required to deliver these experiences across all customer touchpoints consistently.

Success with this core customer experience competency is highly dependent on cross-functional team alignment and will inevitably form the backbone of all customer experience improvement initiatives.

2. Customer-centric Culture

This cross-functional team alignment will involve high levels of employee engagement and dedication to a common cause. In the context of customer-centricity, this involves displacing customers from the outer spheres of business influence to the epicenter of a brand’s existence – where a brand’s technologies, people, products and processes are harmoniously aligned for ease of their customers use.

The tell-tale signs of mastering this core customer experience competency are having engaged employees, who understand their roles in the end-to-end customer journey. They are familiar with the attitudes and behaviours necessary to deliver empathy-rich customer experiences. They have the appropriate tools, readily available at their disposal to do so, and are also rewarded for delivering these intended experiences consistently.

3. Organisational Adoption and Accountability

The journey to true customer-centricity is a financially rewarding, albeit, disruptive one. Legacy business practices are usually the first to be updated and improved on and this core customer experience competency manages the transformation from old to new.

Success with is core customer experience competency lies in a brand’s ability to manage change efficiently. We recommend clear communication of the organisation’s objectives before, during and after transformational activities. Create internal accountability by assigning specific tasks to specific people, with prescribed business processes to follow to manage these activities, and provide immediate support to all those who have been impacted by these changes.

4. Metrics, Measurement and Return on Investment

According to research done by well-known advocates on brand loyalty, 80% of companies believe they delivered ‘superior experiences’ to their customers but, only 8% of their customers agreed. Customer experience metrics like net promoter score* are deployed to solicit customer feedback, to measure delivered experiences, and researched insights inform business decisions on prioritising ongoing improvements in customer experience.

By combining this experience data with operational data – the hard numbers like sales, revenues, and profits, we are able to produce live dashboards to prioritise and track customer experience improvements and the returns on customer experience investments. It is not uncommon for these dashboards to evolve over time but remember to keep it simple, relevant, and easy to understand.

5. Experience Design, Improvement and Innovation

Get to know your customers. Allow them to complete their own brand-specific goals with your organisation – with minimal effort and ensure that the emotions they experience whilst doing so, are consistent with those feelings your brand intends to deliver.

If a customer experience strategy is the backbone of all customer experience improvement initiatives, this core competency will give those initiatives it’s heartbeat. Human-centered experience design, improvement and innovation involves delicate combinations of process improvement methodologies to eliminate common pain points in the customer journey, to personalise product and service offerings for specific customer segments and create dynamic, inspiring and memorable moments of magic at every customer touchpoint.

6. Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight and Understanding

A comprehensive voice of the customer programme is designed to acquire insights on customer attitudes and behaviours by collecting solicited and unsolicited feedback across a variety of listening posts. Reliable research mechanisms mine through customer and employee feedback and these findings inform strategic initiatives in customer engagement.

By listening to what customers are saying about an organisation, we are able to understand how they feel when they interact with a brand’s technologies, people, products, or processes and we use that data to predict customer wants and needs. With this information, we can further tailor product and service offerings to meet or exceed these customer’s ever-changing expectations.

Now back to Mr. Golding’s analogy.

Each of the six core competencies of customer experience may pack a punch but in isolation, will not prove to be effective – even with the best of attempts to create memories that tell your brand story.

To truly engineer and deliver extraordinary customer experiences consistently, combine the powers of each of these competencies into a comprehensive, well-articulated customer experience ecosystem that delivers the business results of brand loyalty by focusing on customer success, customer effort and customer emotion.


Chaman MaharajChaman MaharajAugust 7, 2020
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12min2053

Customer Experience has been a buzz word amongst C-Level executives for some time now and for good reason too. In fact, the term has extended its reach beyond the boardroom and is used just as frequently by tactical and operational teams alike, but what does it mean?

Customer-facing teams in sales and service-orientated environments embrace the concept. Marketing teams use it to get to know their customers, to personalise their brand reach and encourage brand loyalty. Finance teams do not particularly enjoy the first two to three years of most customer experience initiatives, but it is not too long before they are raving fans. Legal divisions have had to adapt their speech to be more understandable and much like the IT industry, consumer and data protection laws have completely disrupted their space. This list goes on.

Ask five different people what customer experience means to their brand and you would probably get twice as many correct, but different answers. The truth must be told. Customer experience means a plethora of different things to different people.

Customer experience is not the same as customer satisfaction or customer service and whilst there are some good guys doing some great work in the field of customer success, customer experience is quite different.

Customer satisfaction describes how happy customers are, after using a specific product or service. Satisfaction can then be broken down into perceived value – how customers expect to benefit from using that product or service versus what they actually experience, post-purchase.

Customer experience is most commonly misunderstood as customer service which refers to the types of assistance, advice, and levels of engagement customers endure before, during, and after a sales transaction. Customer service is managed by divisions within an organisation and results in inconsistencies in delivered experiences across the customer journey. For example, you may receive different levels of customer service from a contact centre service representative than you would from an in-store service representative at the same company. These inconsistencies in delivered experiences are the differences between customer service and customer experience.

Customer success is centred around making it easy for customers to achieve a specific goal such as purchasing a specific product or signing up for a new service. Leaders in this field have generally embarked on digitally transformative campaigns to allow for instant fulfilment such as internet-orientated and app-based self-help facilities.

Customer experience is all of these and so much more. From customer satisfaction, we have learned that customer expectations can be managed, met and exceeded. Customer service has thought us that there is much more to a ‘transaction’ and customer success inevitably reduces customer effort, making it easier for customers to transact.

Comprehensive customer experience ecosystems create customer memories that narrate specific brand stories. Underpinned by a rock-solid customer experience strategy, deliberate and differentiated customer experiences deliver business results by growing brand loyalty organically, by focusing on customer success, customer effort and customer emotion.

According to world-renowned expert in experience management and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), Bruce Temkin defines customer experience as,

 “The perception that customers have of their interactions with an organisation” – Bruce Temkin.

Let us unpack that a little.

We know that customers connect and interact with an organisation’s technologies, people, products, and processes across a variety of online platforms, through dedicated customer contact centres and at physical brick and mortar locations. Across this wide array of customer touchpoints, customers perceive a brand holistically and not the individual business units that make up the organisation.

Whilst these interactions are micro-moments in the end-to-end customer journey, customer perception may not be reality but is an undeniable belief system that belongs exclusively to its bearer. Perceptions will vary from customer to customer, based on their own unique experiences and are formed primarily on personal preferences and the human emotions customers experience when they interact with a specific brand.

It is no surprise that customers who enjoy dynamic and inspiring experiences often share the details of these exciting moments with their friends and family, on social media and by word of mouth. These brand ambassadors are willing to try, buy and recommend new products and services – often at a higher price for that heightened experience and are also far more likely to forgive you should something go wrong.

Premium or paid membership loyalty and rewards programs such as Discovery Health’s Vitality make a strong point here and according to a 2019 Customer Loyalty Report, 47 percent of South African’s conclude purchases that earn rewards or benefits at least several times a week.

On the back end of these loyalty programs, organisations have access to customer information that they harvest to deliver targeted products and services to a tailored audience. Whilst this may tick the personal preferences checkbox, we are not suggesting that a loyalty program will solve all your customer experience problems.

Customer experience ecosystems are complex and multifaceted with multiple moving mechanisms across many organisational silos – each with their own set of values, beliefs and key performance indicators. Customer experience synchronises and steers these cross-functional efforts towards a common goal – the customer.

Customer-centricity can be relatively difficult to achieve, particularly in larger organisations when non-customer-facing individuals are not entirely cognizant of their contributions within the end-to-end customer journey. Customer experience is disrupting this malpractice by breaking down internal barriers between front-line and back-office employees. Never before has so much emphasis been placed on external factors from inside an organisation and this outside-in approach can be great for your business too.

By unearthing the potential of customer intelligence, brands are now able to understand customer behaviour, predict customer wants and needs, and as a result, deliver personalised products and services to a completely tailored audience.

Frequently used customer experience metrics like net promoter score* are deployed to measure delivered experiences and the combination of solicited and unsolicited customer feedback guides ongoing improvements in customer engagement.

Through human-centred experience design, product and service-related teams are able to eliminate common pain points in the customer journey and this coincidentally, has a tremendous knock-on effect on enabling customer-facing teams to operate more efficiently, be more productive and still deliver dynamic and inspiring customer experiences consistently.

The result, engaged employees understand their roles in the end-to-end customer journey and deliver empathy-rich customer experiences that are fluid, highly personalised, and intricately designed using the six core competencies of customer experience to exceed the growing expectations of all customer segments and grow brand loyalty, organically.

 “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

With this, Maya Angelou parted onto us what could possibly be one of the greatest pearls of customer experience wisdom.

At Being Human, we do not intend to redefine customer experience and whenever we are asked, we explain customer experience as, “The product of all your customer’s interactions with your brand are stored in their hearts and minds as memories, and the thumbnails of their experiences are the emojis of how you made them feel.”

We help organisations engineer extraordinary experiences through the application of human-centred experience design to create dynamic, inspiring and memorable moments of magic at every touchpoint of your customer’s journey with your brand.

Which emojis are your customers using to remember their experiences with your brand?

What are they telling their friends and family about you?




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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.


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