I began my career as a web designer and by the time I left university UX skills were in big demand. As customers began to interact with businesses across more and more channels, the challenge changed. It was no longer to do an excellent job in each channel individually but to join them up. That’s how I ended up working in the broader domain of customer experience.
What do you think have been the most significant CX advances in recent years?
The best way to judge those advances would be a noticeable improvement in our day to day experiences as consumers. If my own are anything to go by, I’m not entirely sure they have.
What do you think is the most under-acknowledged challenge that brands are facing in this area?
Often the problem isn’t the customer experience. Sometimes the proposition sucks, a rival does everything better, or there are some fundamental issues that put a handbrake on improving the customer experience that need to be tackled first. Ignoring these issues and diving into some journey mapping isn’t going to create any meaningful returns.
Customer experience is much like a mountain descent in the Tour de France. Getting it wrong is enough to lose, but getting it right isn’t enough to win. Just as a cyclist must perform well in time trials, sprints and climbs, a business must have an appealing brand and an excellent proposition if they want to succeed. Just improving the CX is like trying to win on a descent. In all but the rarest cases, it’s not enough.
Organizations also need to make sure that any CX program is working towards a clear strategic goal - like lowering adoption barriers, increasing conversion or changing perceptions of the brand. Instead, people are ploughing money into projects without knowing what success will look like.
What are the best examples of innovation in customer experience that you have seen?
Domino's Pizza are doing some great stuff. What an incredible turnaround that’s been. Personally, most of what appeals to me isn’t especially innovative. I’m pretty happy if people just consistently do what they say they will, which doesn’t happen that often, but I stick like glue to the brands that do. Patagonia, Amazon, Rapha, FedEx, John Lewis, Pret … those kinds of brands. As you can see, I’ve got exotic tastes.
Where do you see CX growing and evolving in the next 5x years?
What I’m hoping for is more of an appreciation of how CX fits in with other crucial elements of running a successful business. I also hope more traditional organizations realize you can’t solve problems without asserting the underlying cause. Sometimes we need to take a long hard look at improving the products and services rather than just seeing CX as a magic bullet.