Disruption Rules… For more than eleven decades, Gillette ruled the world of shaving. In 2010 it had a 70% market share, now today (2021) it is around 54%. The emergent market leaders are a pair of start-ups, Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club.
The newcomers’ secret includes understanding changing customer needs, a narrow product line, incisive data analytics coupled with social media savvy, no middlemen, right sourced manufacturing, and lower prices than Gillette.
It is happening everywhere, with previous industrial giants being displaced across many business categories, including Casper in mattresses, Barnabas in men’s clothing, Allbirds shoes and trainers, and Warby Parker in eyeglasses.
Direct to consumer brands captured an estimated 20% of all online retail sales in the US in 2020. Established brands, consumer or industrial, are under more significant attack than ever. New entrants face lower entry barriers and have no baggage of past business models and industrial age thinking.
Customers have become ‘enlightened’ through social media and learn about new trends and better products and experiences at lightning speed. Through the pandemic, customers expectations rose, they have become more choosey and rebellious. In fact, you could say customers have become prosumers.
Coupling these trends and increasing aspirations necessitates companies to become progressively Customer Obsessed if they wish to stay in the game. This requires an unending exploration and understanding of customer needs (even when customers themselves may not be aware of them) and an ability to act on those needs. The objective is to actively listen to 100% of interactions 100% of the time to understand micro trends and undertake next level research to deliver increased personalization.
Customers reject the one size fits all industrial age companies in favor of agile, immediate, and empathetic organizations. Mass customization is now achievable at a decreasing cost, allowing companies to offer specific personalized experiences and stay connected at every customer journey stage.
This extreme alignment of everyone and everything towards successful customer outcomes is the hallmark of companies like Adidas. They have established speed factory facilities in Europe and the US, with an ability to measure each individual customers stride, speed, and gait. From that information, use 3D printing, AI, and automated manufacturing to compact the time from order to delivery. This hyper-personalization is welcome so much that customers are prepared to pay significantly more for their unique product.
Adidas is just one example. Cast your eyes over all industry sectors’ leaders, and you will see customer obsession in every aspect of their systems, processes, and experiences right across the complete supply chain.
How aligned is your company?
Time is short
Those companies that are unable or unwilling to make the changes necessary to move from industrial silo thinking to customer obsession face an imminent existential crisis brought about by these shifting business models. If they cannot evolve quickly, they will go the way of the Blockbusters, Kodaks, Nokia, Circuit City, Borders, and so many others.
Put the theory into practice and join us for the online, the live and interactive Certified Outside-In Master® program.
Most successful CX organizations do these things to lift their game. Let’s review their winning approaches. Then Model your own strategy based on these leading CX ‘next’ practices.
The article is a build on terrific feedback from my recent ‘5 Critical Failures of 80% of Customer Experience initiatives’. (You can see that here: http://bit.ly/5CriticalFailures)
“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”
George Bernard Shaw
So with that in mind, let’s move beyond the mistakes and uncover the winning strategies and how best can we implement those insightful approaches?
Based on our recent work and research my report from the CX front line should help you rethink your approach in our collective endeavor to get more scientific about the customer experience.
In the earlier article, we identified five major errors and causes of failure. Let’s review how winning CX companies reframe those into successful strategies.
1. Top teams understand CX success and get out of the way of their people to let them get on with it.
To achieve strategic CX success, it is necessary to understand the limitations imposed by industrial age thinking (getting better at doing the wrong stuff faster, functional specialisms, outdated reward systems) and help the organization migrate to Outside-In thinking and practices. At Zappos, for instance, it is more important to meet the customer (see Zappos hits the road.. http://bit.ly/Zappos2021) and gather insights, and provide input to reshaping the organization.
The top team is actually out there “We want to shake the customers hands, give them really big high fives and meet their friends — delivering happiness and memorable experiences along the way,” said Kristin Richmer, Senior Brand Marketing Manager, Zappos.
The task then is not overlaying the new insights onto an industrial age siloed world. It is actually to reshape the organization, its people, the reward systems, processes and systems to better deliver successful customer outcomes.
Tony Hsieh reinforced this feed forward approach “we actually want to talk with customers more as 70% of our business are repeat buys. Hiding our contact details and making it difficult to talk is not our way” http://bit.ly/TonyHseih
2. Customer needs are understood and developed to create the organizational alignment towards successful customer outcomes.
Leading CX Companies have developed an a-b-c strategy when boiled down includes (a) stop asking customers what they wantl (b) get your head around current customer expectations, and (c) articulate customer needs even when the customer doesn’t know what they are.
This effort is not a ‘one and done’, it is about continual learning and then development of services and products that anticipate customer needs, rather than following the outdated mantra of those organizations seeking more and more (often meaningless) feedback. And Disney provides a demonstration of this a-b-c approach.
Disney World Orlando, is about 43 square miles, about twice the size of Manhattan. (pre pandemic) 30 million guests per year enjoy 4 theme parks: the Magic Kingdom, the Hollywood Studios, Epcot and the Animal Kingdom.
You can navigate to these parks by car, bus, monorail, boats and a ferry depending on your hotel – and that in itself includes over 20 themed for your delight. Coupled with Disneys wearable “Magic Bands” (see http://bit.ly/MagicBand) you receive a smooth personalized experience where ever you are.
This collection of entertainment is a dynamic living system focused on successful customer outcomes. With digital real-time feedback, Disney offers an integrated experience built around a co-ordinated set of business and customer outcomes, from the time you think of a trip, to the time you are back home with the kids.
3. Being customer-centric isn’t about projects – it is a state of mind.
A great mistake of many is approaching customer experience as an initiative, something with a clearly defined start and end point. Appreciating CX is a state of mind for the whole company is a major differentiator and allows successful organizations to continually tweak and evolve, rather than live in a permanent state of project stop-start crisis. The guiding principle is, at the heart of CX, change is desirable, welcomed and systematic. It impacts everyone and everything all the time.
4. Successful CX transcends measures and implements a rigorous feedback/feed forward framework.
A recent analysis in the banking industry suggested that more than 85% of the total key performance indicators measured outputs – things that get produced from activities. Successful CX companies however, have a very different profile and focus, their attention is on measuring outcomes – the result of what is produced. To these companies this is not a semantic distinction, it underpins the total CX strategy. As a result, the measurement systems are simplified, and the focus on results rather than activity moves the dial towards customer centricity so much more quickly.
Programs such as Disney’s True North set a direction with supporting metrics, and rather than measure everything that moves they focus on the results and outcomes that need to be delivered to achieve successful customer outcomes. In this context, more than 75% of measures are ‘Outcomes’ with less than 25% outputs.
Test this for yourself in the contact center.
What are your top ten measurements, are they output oriented or outcome based? The former (outputs) would be things like average handle time, abandon rates, downtime and so on. The latter (outcomes) would be the delivery of customer need, queries completely resolved (not the piece mean partial interim ‘first call resolution’ type things measured with a functional bias). In summary, CX leaders have fewer measures and the majority are now Outcome-focused.
5. CX is both the strategy and the operational objective to overcome needless complexity.
A Forrester survey says 81% of CX professionals are mapping experiences from the customers perspective but only 21% are mapping the ecosystem (processes, people, technology). In this context there are two opportunities that successful CX companies exploit:
i. CX can only be successful if you build a complete CX ecosystem. This is a process of creating alignment from Customer Experience strategy to execution and connects the frontline who deliver the customer experience with those people and systems who provide the means of delivery. Amazon refer to this aspect as ‘North Start Alignment’
ii. CX Current state crisis. Successful CX companies can clearly articulate the what and how the organization should be doing to deliver great experiences.
They do not become mired in the exercise of mapping all the current external and internal processes and systems (which can take years to complete and provides little in the way of direction for what should exist.)
These companies understand the reality that the current structure and systems were never created with excellent CX in mind but were in fact designed around an industrial age, production system based model.
Hence, next practice is to utilize design principles that envision what should be, and then progressively mature and migrate the organization to that vision.
To conclude CX success doesn’t come from wishful thinking.
It is a deliberate and sustained effort to understand and articulate the ever changing customer. To build a new trust with them that goes beyond the platitudes of the past.
In the near term it is about becoming more scientific about the customer experience. In the longer term it is a guarantee of business success. We have codified these CX next practice approaches into the CEMMethod (now version 13). You can access that as a resource with others below.
Your definition of customer experience is wrong, and here’s why, right, there’s lots of different definitions of what Customer experience is, and if we put them together, we might end up with something like this, the sum of the interactions, perceptions and feelings a customer has with your company.
You might think that’s a pretty decent definition, James, but you’d be wrong. Most of the definitions you find are going to run along the same theme. Okay, the problem is that theme is completely inside-out. These definitions take a company view of customer experience, not a customer view of customer experience. Go figure. Let’s say that we’re an airline…..
Part Two. In Part One we reviewed how poor metrics drive bad behaviours. Lets dig deeper with a typical scenario…
And if you think this experience is unusual grab a coffee and google ‘poor customer experiences’.
The leadership team can talk until they are blue in the face about customer centricity but if they insist on metrics designed for running factories everyone suffers. Here’s another typical conversation:
In all three instances the customer did not achieve a Successful Outcome. In fact there is now more effort required by the customer, and also more cost and time to be incurred for the organisation if the customer does follow through. If the customer doesn’t bother that is more potential revenue lost.
So how does this organisation look to the browsing customer? Pretty awful to say the least.
We know why this is so. Organisations like this are focused on measuring Outputs, rather than measures of Successful Customer Outcomes. If it is so obvious why is it so many persist in this Failure-Demand cycle?
Because they are measuring the wrong things. And guess what? Yes, they will have automated those measurements and put them on fancy management dashboards so everyone can feel happy. Except the customer of course. But what does that matter?
In Part Three – a big reveal. A couple of techniques that will help shape Successful Customer Outcomes brought to you from companies like Amazon, Zara, Zappos and Emirates.
Now, please remember if you pay people to do dumb stuff they will get really smart at it.
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Do you want to embrace advanced Customer Centric thinking and become Outside-In?
Beginner classes… (scroll down for Advanced classes)
Name of Course
Accredited Customer Experience Specialist (ACXS)
Accredited Customer Experience Professional (ACXP)
A new customer experience training and certification program designed specifically for customer experience professionals who need powerfully simple and immediately impactful tools, techniques, frameworks and mindsets that when applied will radically improve the experience that their company delivers to their customers, gaining a lasting advantage in their industry. Now available online, on demand, on your terms.
Modular covers the themes of Customer Categorisation, Reframing from Inside-out (Industrial Age) to Outside-In (Customer Age), Includes Successful Customer Outcomes and developing the CX justification and frameworks for Success.
Video on Demand
Inroom or Live Online, Open or Inhouse
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Name of Course
Accredited Customer Experience Master (ACXM)
Accredited Customer Experience Champion (ACXC)
Builds on the ACXP to include modules reviewing CX Innovation, CX ROI and Winning the Triple Crown, CX Lifecycle – The ABACUS Framework , The Customer Performance Landscape, CX Maturity, CX Dashboard – Connecting the Dots – from the front line to the board room, CX Attitude, Behaviour and Culture, Developing tomorrows enterprise – Teams & Structures and the CX Launch Pad – Where to Start and North Star Alignment with the CX Management Office (includes digitization)
Builds on the ACXM and covers the themes of Enterprise CX Transformation through the lens of CX Strategy (what is Next Practice, what models are proven and successful, and how CX delivery is fundamentally different) Leadership looks at the practical approaches developed in winning organisations and distills Best Practices. Finally we cover CX Execution. How to scale from singular experiences and processes to a complete ecosystem
Thank you for your great work and knowledge that you so openly share #thankyou #acxm🙏🏽 Kamani Naidoo, South Africa
Thank you Steve Towers for an awesome week of masterful learning. Can’t wait to attend your next class! Victoria Weaver, United States
Wow!!! Thank you so much for all the foundation that you have laid for this great achievement at different levels of my career life. I will forever be grateful for your contributions in this regard! Stay Blessed!!! Mashaba Mulaudzi, South Africa
Let me take this opportunity to thank Mr Steve. Your teachings are timeless and they stick perfectly and forever in our minds. We shall never forget you wherever we find ourselves on this planet. Thank you so much, Steve 🙏 Benignus Otmar, Tanzania
Thanks Steve for such an excellent program, the dedicated manner you use to share with us your wonderful knowledge and wisdom in CX, and time to response all our questions! God bless you, thanks a lot! Yanese Angeles, Dominican Republic
Thanks again Steve. Not only have you been a fantastic mentor to me but you have taught me how to mentor others. Thanks for being so supportive and getting me through. Chandan Chhabra, Delhi, India
Another fantastic learning, personal and professional development experience with you! Lyall Shapiro, Australia
Do you want to embrace advanced Customer Centric thinking and become Outside-In?
I just wanted to reach out, so you don’t miss out on this limited time offer on my new book Outside-In The Secret of the 21st c. leading companies.
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The insights shared are based on my work and research with companies like BMW, Emirates, Zara, Zappos, and Amazon over the last two decades.
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You may be wondering why you should invest your precious time reading this book. With all the pressures of the current business climate, why will this investment be worthwhile?
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