Oracle OpenWorld's Customer Experience Summit Day Two: Understand the Customer #oow

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Anthony Myers avatar

Oracle's first annual Customer Experience Summit featured plenty of advice like when to hire a chief customer officer and how to create empathy with customers. As day two rolled on, it became clear the summit was less about Oracle and more about really helping companies get behind the concept and importance of supporting and understanding customers. That seems right, doesn't it?

Dynamic Kembel Brothers on CXM 

George and John Kembel are twins. They have a pretty unique understanding of each other. Sort of how companies like Oracle should be trying to understand their customers? Businesses won't likely be able to develop brotherly-like bonds between customers, but the Kembel twins brought their unique takes on customer experience to the summit. 

It helps that John is Oracle's VP, customer experience design. Kembel emceed in depth sessions featuring advice from his brother George, ED of the Stanford d School, and from Forrester analysts Paul Hagen and Kerry Bodine. Additionally, we were introduced to consultant Bruce Temkin, a former Forrester researcher who now runs his own company.

George Kembel heads up the Institute of Design at Stanford, and he pointed out many Americans have defined design as something only pertaining to artists. To design a customer experience focused business, companies need to breathe life into the idea that workers at all levels should be encouraged to innovate. For George Kembel, design and innovation, creativity and empathy are all intertwined.

If businesses are to become less company focused and more geared toward customer experience, these are the behaviors that need to be nurtured, George Kembrel said. 

"People feel like they can't be creative because they can't draw," he said.

"It's not just about art. Innovation and creativity are interchangeable in this way. People need to have confidence in your ability to create and to be creative."

It's Hard to Talk People into the Idea of CXM as being Important

This is where the idea of empathy comes into play. It's easier for people to understand their customers if they can see things from the customer's point of view. It turns out many businesses see customer interactions simply as pain points, and that simply is not always how customers see things.


Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test is a good framwork for building customer experience focused products.


Learning Opportunities

As managers and leaders, we are too often focused on problem solving, Kembrel said. 

"We need to disrupt this because we may not even be focused on the right questions."

Figuring out what customers really want is hard work, but with enough data, a business plan can be put together with the customer at the center, Forrester analyst Paul Hagen said. 

"Many company cultures have a false sense of reality," Hagen said.

"The way customers expect things is shifting, and to adapt, there has to be a cultural shift. This changes the social interactions, the hiring and other processes. But the shifts also apply to the executives and to metrics. It's hard but the differentiation created is harder to replicate than in any product development."

How to Survive a Customer Experience Shift

Because somebody has to lead the charge into customer experience, especially for large companies, it may not be necessary to go out and hire a chief customer officer right away, consultant Bruce Temkin said. 
"We used to just slap in some technology (to improve customer experience), and now we are laying in real business practices and changing organizations," Temkin said.
Temkin has produced an e-Book called "10 CX Mistakes to Avoid" that he outlined at the summit. It's easy to avoid making the same mistakes so many other businesses have made by not:
  • Faking Executive Commitment
  • Over-Relying on Customer Surveys
  • Neglecting Experience Design
  • Treating All Customers the Same
  • Un-Engaging New Customers
  • Ignoring Employees
  • Obsessing About Detractors
  • Forgetting to Celebrate Success
  • Falling in Love with a Metric
  • Mapping Internal Touchpoints


Furthermore, Temkin outlined his vision of the future of the customer experience industry. Over the next three years, more and more companies will be aligning and embedding customer experience into their businesses, and it will become more seamless. 

Right now, about 25 percent of companies surveyed are ignoring or just beginning to explore the concept of customer experience, Temkin said. About a third of companies are mobilizing and operationalizing those concepts, he said, and this is the stage where a chief customer officer may be hired and budgets developed. Tell us in the comments if you think the first Customer Experience Summit was a step in the right direction for Oracle or if you think your team might be able to attend next year.