When I was growing up in the UK, I made a deal with my parents. They agreed to buy me one humor comic and one adventure comic a week if I agreed to get an educational comic as well. The parental-approved comic was the truly enjoyable "Look & Learn." Its educational text articles covered a wide variety of topics. It included a long-running science fiction comic strip, The Trigan Empire (which I still rate as one of the best science fiction sagas ever produced), adaptations of famous works of literature into comic-strip form and serialized works of fiction. But the one lesson that it taught me more than anything was embodied in its title “Look & Learn.”
I continue to use the mantra today. There is so much we can discover just by watching the world around us, and customer experience (CX) is one area where this approach pays dividends.
Put Yourself in the Customer Mindset
To my mind CX isn’t something just to be thought about in the office. As such, any innovative CX leader should be observant and learn from all previous experiences and encounters — both personally and professionally.
At the end of the day, we are all consumers ... or someone else’s customers. So, think about the customer experiences that you enjoy, why you continue to interact with certain brands and what makes you a loyal customer. Then think about the experience you are delivering from your clients’ perspective. Does it match up to the same level you expect and enjoy as a consumer? If not, why not? What can you do to change that?
Thinking about things from the customer perspective is an essential element to successful CX leadership. You need to think beyond your organization’s existing process and culture. You need to understand why your customers are interacting with your brand in the first place, what they are trying to achieve and how they approach projects.
Additionally, it’s important to consider your content and communications from the customer’s point of view. Merely supplying information isn’t relevant if it doesn’t add value, or can’t be acted on.
Just to give a small example, my flight was delayed and there was a last-minute gate change on the return leg of a recent business trip. This information was relayed to the passengers waiting at the gate by updates delivered via digital signage. The person who stood directly next to me however was visually impaired and had no idea of the changes beyond hearing the groans of their fellow travelers. A short verbal announcement and explanation, which would have taken less than 30 seconds, would have provided the information to those who didn’t — or couldn’t — see the digital signs. This alternative approach also would have gone a long way to ease the sense of frustration and dissatisfaction in the customer base and eased any additional confusion among travelers.
This incident got me thinking about the benefits of ‘double-signaling’ information, rather than relying on one mode of delivery, and how that idea can be applied to other aspects of CX scenarios.
Learning from what you see around you and applying those findings to your own CX strategies is a wonderful tool and best practice. If you spot something that has a negative CX impact — like the airline’s reliance on passengers reading signs — start to think how to avoid those scenarios in the future.
Related Article: Use Design Thinking to Put Yourself in Your Customers' Shoes
Don't Only Think About Current Customers, Think of Future Customers, Too
When it comes to customers, it pays dividends to think beyond your traditional customer base, especially when it comes to the digital experience. Think about how various digital properties work together, and how to best approach the digital to physical handoff.
When evaluating your online presence, organizations need to think globally. Websites and digital properties are available 24/7 from any connected point on the planet and it should be a priority to ensure a consistent and seamless digital experience no matter where the customer resides.
For example, a friend of mine runs a small specialist engineering company. His primary customer base is located in his home state, so he provided the information on his website in English and Spanish. I recently noticed he had also added French translations to his website. Apparently, he had received an increased number of inquiries for one particular process his company specialized in from France. The inquiries had all been driven by word of mouth and adding French translations to his website had further increased sales. By making that slight adjustment in the CX experience, he made it easier for a new potential customer base to do business with him, thus driving increased revenue.
At the end of the day, that’s what great customer experience is all about — building a strong relationship with the customer that provides them with the service they expect, while driving revenue for the organization. To do that, innovative CX leaders need to be observant, empathetic, globally aware and always learning.