In a 2012 C-suite survey of the Asia telcom industry, ICT consultant firm Ericsson noted -“81% of executives believed that customer experience is key to improved financial performance. 77% of executives indicated that customer experience (CX) is a key driver for differentiation within the marketplace; Nevertheless, 72 % of executives evaluated their current customer experience as being average or poor.”

In a 2013 McKinsey study on the state of customer experiences, it reported – “To maximize customer satisfaction, companies have long emphasized touchpoints. But doing so can make customers seem happier than they actually are and divert attention from the bigger, more important issue: the customer’s end-to-end journey.”

Clearly, business growth through better customer experiences cannot come from just tactical upgrades, but from the deliberated transformation of a company’s culture, brand DNA and business model to stay relevant and compelling to people’s lives.

Here are 5 foolproof ways you can do this;

    1. Distinguish what are hygiene interactions and hallmark interactions, then inspire the second with passion. Employees like to know that they are not just doing more for less, but that what they are doing really makes them look special in the eyes of the customers they serve. Think Singapore Airlines’s ‘Singapore Girl, You’re A Great Way To Fly’
    2. Make a relationship, not a sale. This simple mindset shift will help increase the quality of customer engagement design tremendously. Be inviting not insistent. Start laying the ground for customer advocacy from first contact. A good example here would be American Express’s ‘Welcome In’ proposition.
    3. Use customer journey mapping exercises to build your emotional bank. Most customer journey exercises focus on the down-and-dirty of transactional satisfaction, not relationship satisfaction. Always keep this Maya Angelou quote in your pocket when doing end-to-end experience design - “I’ve learnt thatpeople will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
    4. Appreciate that the crowd is fast becoming the company. Crowd collaboration on experience design and participation has never been more important. Crowd-powered industry disruptors like Uber and Giffgaff have already sent clear signals on where customers see new value. Don’t follow the trend, exceed it.
    5. Don’t sell products. Sell sandboxes. Singapore’s best-loved telco StarHubhas a very simple employee mission - ‘Make a career out of making people happy’. The need for ecosystem-adaptive brand DNA is growing as battlefields shift from categories to ecosystems. Be an ecosystem leader.

We have entered a new, super-competitive and ultra-disruptive CX era where what worked before may not suffice today. Tough questions are getting tougher every year. The answers to these questions may not necessarily be in doing things better, but in doing things differently. And not necessarily by aligning the rules, but by redefining them.

As Albert Einstein said - “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”


About the Author: Terence Chan is Chief Experience Office for CXG, a Singapore-based management consultancy specializing in end-to-end customer journey transformation and optimization.