Customer experience management in 2012: The expert predictions

23rd Jan 2012

Customer experience guru Shaun Smith tells about his predictions for the world of CEM in the coming year.

Shaun Smith has spent the last 10 years helping organisations around the world create more compelling customer experiences. As well as a leading customer experience consultant at smith+co, Shaun is also an author of books including ‘Uncommon Practice’ and ‘Managing the Customer Experience’, and his latest title ‘BOLD – how to be brave in business and win’, was shortlisted for CMI e-Book of the Year and 800CEO Read business book of the year.
Shaun has featured a number of times on the ‘Ask the Expert’ programme on CNBC and is a sought after international speaker on key business issues such as brand leadership and differentiation; the alignment of Marketing, Customer Service and HR to create customer-focused change; motivating and training employees to deliver the brand.
Here, he speaks with about his predictions for customer experience management in the coming year.
1. Status stories vs status symbols
“Status is becoming increasingly attached to what you do rather than what you have. So clearly there are people who are mega-wealthy who will continue to own major status symbols like yachts or hyper-cars. But increasingly status is attached to the stories you tell and the experiences you have rather than the possessions you own. So for example, track days are becoming increasingly popular. People can take their sports cars on track days or do sprints or whatever, and I would argue that there is probably more credibility and bragging rights in telling your mates you took your car round Silverstone last week rather than having a mega expensive car, and it is certainly more acceptable socially.”
2. Community-centric vs city-centric
“If you think about what is happening with the tent cities that have sprung up around St Pauls and New York and so on, there is a huge social movement against big business, particularly financial services, big bonuses and all of that. So what we’re seeing is that some banks that are going counter-trend and becoming community-centric versus City-centric.
“I would offer two examples here. One is Umpqua bank, the community bank in the States, that uses random acts of kindness to market itself. So for example when it was trying to get into the Californian market it crated an Umpqua ice cream van and drove around the streets giving out free ice creams and of course people would say” what's Umpqua?” ‘Umpqua’ is an Indian word meaning 'raging waters' and  as the bank was unknown but coming into the Californian market, it gave them the opportunity to get really close to the customers in a community-based way.
“And of course one example of that in London is Metro Bank. Metro Bank has a whole thing on its website about the service it provides even to welcoming dogs into what they call 'the store'. If you take a dog in to the branch they have water bowls and so on. So it is about being in the community, being part of the community and creating a new vibe about the brand.”
3. Social status will be redefined
“Another trend is one of social status being different. Social status was traditionally ‘who you know’ and social status is now increasingly being ‘who you influence’ in social media. You’re familiar with Klout and that whole thing about how much reach do you have, how many people you are influencing, how many people pay attention to you. So the whole notion of social status as we think about it is becoming redefined through social media.”
4. Conscientious consumption vs conspicuous consumption
“There is a move from conspicuous consumption towards conscientious consumption. So a good example of that in the hotel sector is Six Senses hotel, which is a six star resort. They won’t sell branded bottled water because they have to fly it in and it has an environmental impact. So they distil their own water on site, they sell it to you, and the proceeds go to providing water in those parts of the world that are lacking. So they actually help hundreds of thousands of people through selling water that they distil themselves in their own resort.
“This has a multiple impact – one they are helping deprived areas, secondly they are minimising their own environmental impact, but thirdly what they are doing is making a very strong stand, which is to say, just because you are a luxury guest paying a lot of money, you’re not going to have everything you want. If you stay here you abide by our rules. And so I think this notion of conscientious consumption is going to become increasingly important. And people will start feeling embarrassed about wearing their income on their sleeve and being fawned over. They are going to want to feel more comfortable and natural in the way they consume.”
5. Consulting will become just-in-time rather than just-in-case
“Because of the pressure on costs, because of shareholder oversight and all of those things, the days of bringing a McKinsey on board and having a raft of young MBAs crawling over your offices are largely over. One, people can’t afford it and two, it’s not really acceptable to shareholders any more. Shareholders begin to question these things. Also because of the the pressure on business people are looking to achieve things quickly. They are not really prepared to sit around, having a culture change going on for three years before they see any results. With the speed of things happening in the business today, as well as the pressures that people are under, we just can’t do that anymore. So I think business is wanting just-in-time rather than just-in –case solutions.
“Previously, organisations would go through these major change programmes and do everything that you can possibly imagine, so that it was 'just-in-case' we’ll do it all. But 'just-in-time' is going to be about doing the right thing at the right time to get the right result. Therefore, customer experience implementation is going to be more about self-help. What organisations are looking for, and we’re already seeing this, is rather than organisations saying ‘you come in and do it to us and bring in loads of consultants to run this project’, they are saying ‘help us help ourselves –give us some timely advice when we need it, and get our people up to speed with what they need to do. Give us some support if we need it, and then leave us to get on with it.’ 

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By cust_faithful
25th Jan 2012 09:02

Absolutely agree that what people do is becoming more, well, more impactful, than what they earn.

but track days as socially acceptable? I don't think so - it may have bragging rights to mates, but it's totally gratuitous in terms of its unnecessary environmental impact. hardly anything to be socially proud of. --

Rick Harris Owner, Customer Faithful






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Shaun Smith
By Shaun Smith
25th Jan 2012 14:54

 Hi Rick

Thanks for your comment and I am glad that you agree with some of the points I make. In terms of track days, I don't think I said they were anything to be proud about. The point I was making is a pragmatic one; people who buy sports cars will want to drive them so better that they do that on the track where their perofmance can be utilised than roaring up and down the King's Road in London to show-off which is where I see most of the hyper-cars being driven.


Shaun Smith

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