customer experience

Why customer experience is a global challenge

15th Dec 2015

I want to start my inaugural exclusive column for MyCustomer by stating how very proud I am to call myself a customer experience professional! As we approach the conclusion of 2015, I look back in awe at the work that thousands of my peers have been continuing to do in spreading the importance of ‘better managing the customer experience’ (CX) across industries all over the globe.

Very often, those of us who work in the CX ‘field’ feel as though we are lone wanderers. Sometimes akin to ‘pushing water uphill’, it is not uncommon for me to come across customer experience professionals who would be equally as adept at dismantling brick walls as they are at influencing their organisations of the need to improve CX. 

There is still a band of people who do not consider customer experience to be a ‘profession’ at all. Almost mocking in their view that we could not possibly consider ourselves to be in the same mould as lawyers, doctors and accountants, it is difficult to assess whether they are nervous, envious, or just ignorant of the ever-growing exposure, awareness and significance CX is now receiving from businesses all over the world.

What 2015 has confirmed for me is that the customer experience phenomenon is a truly GLOBAL one. This year alone, I have visited 20 countries, teaching, advising and consulting with companies who aspire to instill and embed the skills and competencies required to deliver consistently good CX. I have travelled as far east as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. I have worked with customer experience professionals in Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

In mainland Europe, I have interacted with people passionate about customer experience in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, Ireland, Poland, Greece and the Netherlands. I have been amazed by the invention and enthusiasm for CX in three different cities in India. I will repeat my assertion that Customer Experience is a truly global phenomenon.

As well as having benefitted from the amazing opportunities and experiences of working in these different parts of the world, I have also supported other CX professionals in lands I have not actually visited.

So what I have I learned from my travels? Firstly, that it does not matter whether you are in Bangkok, Mumbai, Cape Town, Dublin, New York or Moscow – the importance and significance of customer experience is starting to make the business world go around. As organisations across all industries struggle to keep pace with technological advancements, disrupting competition and the ever-increasing demands of customer expectation, CX is finally getting recognition as being the most effective way of ensuring and delivering sustainable growth in the future.

What do I mean by that? I mean that businesses from all corners of the world are finally becoming more and more conscious of the differentiating effect consistently good Customer Experiences can have on the bottom line. In principle this makes perfect sense – in fact the simple logic almost seems ‘blindingly obvious’:

CX 1

Why Customer Experience Management Works!

The ‘blindingly obvious’ is even backed up by independent studies that prove the link between CX and improved financial performance. From Watermark Consulting’s 7 year study of the S&P 500 in the US  (in conjunction with Forrester), to KPMG Nunwoods’ Customer Experience Excellence Report in the US, the UK and Australia – it is becoming difficult to deny how an increased focus on CX can NOT benefit everyone – the customer, the employee and the shareholder.

However, there is still a VERY LONG WAY to go before the global consumer – that is you and I – can confidently expect to receive consistently good customer experiences. My second big learning from my international travels is that whilst the growing interest in CX is a global phenomenon, the challenges being faced by those who ae trying to instill the skills and competencies into companies are frighteningly similar.

Cultural differences aside, it does not matter what part of the world you are in, resistance, disbelief and the insatiable demands ofsShareholders for their interests to be paramount in the eyes of business leaders, it is astonishing how difficult it remains for customer experience professionals to help their organisations do ‘what is right’ for all stakeholders – customers, employees AND shareholders!

That is why the CX profession is so important. It does not matter what language you use to say it, the need for organisations to understand what it takes to be genuinely customer centric – to understand that it is NOT having to do MORE – that it is not  soft and fluffy ‘mumbo jumbo’ – is dependent on skilled, experienced professionals with recognised best practice competencies. I have found myself saying over and over again – you can deliver great Customer Experiences merely by TALKING about them. You need to be able to actually do CX and take definitive action.

The great news is this: whilst there may still be a long way to go, if you still feel like the ‘lone wanderer’, I can confirm that you certainly are NOT. You are not alone. There is likely to be someone just like you in your city, country and continent. Seek them out – collaborate – learn from each other – counsel each other – motivate each other.

There will always be doubters – that is true in almost every walk of life. However, I honestly believe that the customer experience profession is not just here to stay, it will continue to grow into one of the most prominent professions on this planet – one that helps to make the business world go around!

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Replies (3)

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By Henry Dean
15th Dec 2015 17:12

Ian, I respect your enthusiasm around customer experience but I think you touched on the point that many businesses need convincing on - how you broadcast the need to focus more attention on customer experience and having certified experience professionals in your business without sounding too 'soft and fluffy'. I guess it comes down to measurements / metrics etc. I'd like to hear more from you about how some of these different businesses across the globe go about measuring the success or failure of their customer experience programs.

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Ian Golding
By Ian Golding
18th Dec 2015 12:47

Hi Henry - many thanks for taking the time to read and respond. Measurement is a core competency for any Customer Experience Professional and any organisation wanting to be more customer centric. Whilst many businesses are measuring the customer experience in some way, from my experience, too many are not doing it well - for a variety of reasons. The key to CX measurement is to get to 'the truth', as I like to describe it - it is not about massaging egos, or naval gazing - but having a clear understanding of what the key drivers of customer perception are, so you can understand your priorities for improvement. Ultimately, being able to link customer perception to financial performance is the nirvana - there are a growing number of companies who are now able top do just that.

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By EJohn Morris
03rd Jan 2016 11:15

Hello Ian and thanks for putting this article together. Most of my experience with developing and deploying CX has been within corporates, mainly B2B however much of what is written here and mentioned by Henry below rings true B2B or B2C.
The problem comes down to personal preference, we are all customers and each experience is in many ways tailor made, whether it be with a sales rep ftf, online, shop assistant and its at these points and any follow up interaction where the experience is realised. I completely agree that measurement is essential, if you don't measure it you cant manage it but equally, you get what you measure.
In my view no one can argue that CX is a good thing but the challenge as you rightly point out is convincing management teams to commit, invest and sustain. They will deploy training programs and hire consultants, then maybe create a CX department, and then a few months later wonder why nothing has changed. It will be because CX is about culture change which is created by education and not training, its about identifying bright spots, recognising the behaviour and encouraging.
Never easy and never short term. Management teams demand quick fixes, successful CX deployment isn't a quick fix, unfortunately.

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