Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Welcome to Miami - Exploring the Customer Experience

This past month I was asked to speak at the Consero Customer Experience Conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami. Customer Experience (CX) experts from across industries came to learn and share their best thinking and connect with one another.
Not a bad place to be when the rest of the US is covered in snow. Warm, toasty, and exploring a favorite subject in the gorgeous tropics. I couldn’t complain. Plus, the Biltmore Hotel is an outrageous experience in 1920’s opulence, if you have the chance, you should visit. The architecture, grounds and the GX (guest experience) conflated to deliver a superior overall experience.
Anyway, I was delighted to see that besides my speech on “Mastering the Secrets of Customers for Life,” I had two additional and unexpected advocates for Root’s CXwork. There was a former Whirlpool executive and a current client from BMO that included Root in their presentations. It is not lost on me that potential clients would always rather hear about your work from another client. I am grateful they were there and that they shared Root stories, so, thank you!
The audience and I had a fun and highly interactive 90 minutes together where we talked about:
-        CX as the final frontier. Products and services are easily knocked off but a great CX is hard to duplicate.
-        CX is a constant evolution and expectations are constantly changing.
-        The evolution of CX expectations form the 1950’s to today:
1950’s – 1960’s: Personalized local service delivered by independent business owners who knew your name and acts as a trusted advisor.
1970’s – 2000: Fast, convenient, impersonal with little service delivered by an associate or call center agent who didn’t know your name and whom you would likely never talk to again.
2000 – Today: Consumers crave speed and convenience amidst their time-starved work and personal lives. They want all of that combined with the personalization and trusted advisor relationships of yesteryear, delivered in an omni-channel environment with 24x7 access. No pressure, right?
-        To bring this to life, highly successful organizations delivering world class CX (B2B and B2C) have 3 things in common:
o   Leaders are creating a customer-first culture
o   Managers are empowered to act like owners
o   Front-line employees are delivering authentic customer experiences
The audience explored some of the challenges they have in their own organizations in each of these buckets. There were more than a few comments about how hard it is to get leaders to take responsibility for creating a customer-first culture. Several participants talked about how their leaders had delegated customer experience to an individual to “run” and then distanced themselves from it.   There seems to be a big opportunity to educate leaders on the reality that CX is about building a culture rather than treating it as a departmental responsibility or initiative!
Finally, my big “AHA” moment from this conference was that most of the organizations I met with are spending an exorbitant amount of time and money on customer journey mapping, and developing hiring profiles and front-line training programs. All of these activities are worthy but none of them will lead to success without the desire and commitment of leaders to create a customer-first culture. That is where the focus needs to be to achieve and deliver a differentiated CX.
The final frontier maybe CX but leaders are the final strongholds that needs to change their thinking from “we support having someone lead our CX initiative” to “we are the leaders of our customer-first culture.”  
Have you begun the processes of creating a customer-first culture in your company? I’d love to hear about it!

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