The whole point of customer experience as a business topic is to reset priorities. The theory is crystal clear and the fundamental point is obvious. Yet personal experience tells us that many organisations remain off the pace.

Why is that?

The fact that it is even an issue is strange. As consumers we know exactly what we expect from those we buy from. Most of us could write a decent book on the topic. So it’s not a matter of ignorance. But something strange happens to every consumer when they walk through the doors of their place of employment. They morph into another role with other priorities. And become part of the problem. Organisational priorities suddenly trump customers.

Happily, this organisational addiction to pursue internal agendas at the expense of their paymasters can be cured. VoC (voice of the customer) is often effective medicine in the short term. Of course a transformation of priorities is what is hoped for eventually. With all the associated behavioural change that goes with becoming a ‘Customer Company’ as some are currently calling it.

That journey from ‘we know best’ to something more collaborative is full of brain teasing challenges. It’s the same when I’m trying to match the eye and hook of a bow tie in front of a mirror. The right way to do it feels back to front. Somehow it is counter intuitive. The same applies to becoming customer centric.
Let me explain with a few examples.

Everton FC recently produced a new badge. However it had removed the club’s Latin motto. I don’t know why but let’s imagine the decision was based on modernising the look and feel of the brand. After all football fans are not renowned for reading Cicero in the original!

But that internal brand decision missed the point. There was emotional attachment to words written in a dead language. Within several days a petition with 22,000 signatures and a Twitter account (NoToNewEFCBadge) with 4,000 followers had been formed.

The same happened to GAP a few years ago. Their revised logo was panned by fans in a very public display of disapproval that they had not been part of the redesign process. Internally focussed decision making missed the point. Even though I’m sure both process and output were classically correct.

Netflix had to backtrack in 2011 when it ignored customer feedback and changed pricing. It suffered share price collapse until it reset its priorities.
Change.org, the petitioning platform plays out the same relationship between governments and citizens around who knows best.

At face value, only the foolish would ignore this cumulative evidence. But as I mentioned early, we are talking about trying to cure ourselves of something akin to an addiction. This is why the ‘cure’ needs to be effective, supportive and consistent.

Interaction Analytics is a case in point. Given what I do for a living, I am obviously a strong advocate of what Nexidia brings to the customer experience table. But that is not what I want to emphasise here.

All forms of customer analytics matter because they provide the antidote to this ‘internal view’. They allow us to understand, quantify, discover and respond to what customers want to us to hear. That evidence helps save us from imagining we know best. It provides insight into the actions needed to become a Customer Company.

Yet if it was that simple, we would have plenty more examples of excellent organisations to quote. In reality this remains a growing aspiration. As we know, one of the symptoms of addictive behaviour is to ignore the truth, repeatedly.

Meanwhile those that can adapt are learning the new ways. Customers want to contribute, be involved and experience some degree of co-ownership in the brands they are involved with. So let them in. That’s when sentiment is positive. The reverse can be true when things go wrong. Customer service over social channels has become a spectator sport as many are discovering. Even more reason to learn fast and fix what’s broken.

It is all about remaining aware of whose priorities we should be following and how we tap into them.
I will leave you with a quote from Lyle Fong, Chief Strategist & Co-Founder of Lithium. It’s catalytic and to the point. In fact, you can transform an entire organisation just by following through on its logic.

“What happens when we treat customers as part of the company?”

Jonathan Wax
Jonathan Wax – VP EMEA Nexidia
Jonathan runs Nexidia’s EMEA operations and is responsible for managing
and growing the business within the region. He started the EMEA operations
in 2005 and now runs the team that is transforming the customer contact operations of a number of the region’s leading companies.

With a career that spans HP, IBM, Compaq, BA and Witness Systems, Jonathan is a highly experienced sales, relationship management and marketing professional who has spent the past 12+ years defining and delivering business intelligence and customer insight solutions that enable companies to optimise the people, processes and technology deployed within their contact centres. His in-depth understanding of the needs of the industry ensures that the solutions deliver the transformational analysis needed to improve operational effectiveness and build customer satisfaction no matter what the sector. Jonathan has BA Honours degree is Computer Studies and History from Oxford Brookes University.

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