What Is The Context For This Conversation?
I am following the lead taken by Dawna MacLean in her recent post on encouraging businesses to become more human. It occurs to me she is a brave lady worthy of admiration and respect. I dedicate this post to her, in service of the stand she is taking and the possibility that she is living from and into.
There are many actions that I regret. Few bring me shame. One in particular is etched within me despite it occurring ‘a lifetime ago’. I reckon I was 14 at the time, walking, alone, on my way into the town centre. I am stopped by an old lady, she has a walking stick, she tells me she is lost, she asks for directions. I draw closer to hear-understand what she is saying. She smells! I tell her that she need to turn around. I tell her she is only ten minutes walk from her destination. And I spell out the directions – twice.
A voice speaks to me along the following lines: “Take her hand, walk her there, it is even on your way somewhat. Without your help she will struggle.” Another voice speaks: “She smells awful! You are in a hurry and it will take ages to take her there. You have given her what she asked for. She’ll be fine.” I listen to the second voice, leave her to make her own way, and I walk into town. I cleaned up a lot of history whilst participating in Landmark Education. And that is one that I never got to clean up. If that old lady were here today, I’d ask for her forgiveness.
Why am I sharing this with you? So that you have the context from which to make sense of what I speak-write. I write is not to help you make it: sell more, be more successful, obtain higher status, live happily ever after. I write to open eyes, unblock ears, touch hearts. I write to encourage-facilitate a shift of worldview. I write from the possibility of meaningful-fulfilling human lives and the possibility of a ‘world that works for all, none excluded’. Arguably a world that works must include meaningful-fulfilling human lives. And such a world has plenty of space for businesses that do great by doing good: enriching human lives, and life as a whole.
What Is The Experience That Goes With Transformation?
The last post ended with “So the challenge of Customer Experience is the challenge of a transformation in worldview.” When I speak transformation, what am I pointing at? Look at the following picture, keeping look at it until a shift occurs in what you see.
What occurred? If you are like me then you probably started out seeing a small cube sitting inside of a an ‘open box’ and then came a moment when you saw a big cube from which a small cube (left hand corner) was cut-out, missing.
Please notice, the reality (that which is) has not changed. It is the same picture – nothing about the picture itself changed. Yet, that which you perceived-saw changed and you had something like a surprise: an ‘aha’ experience. Why? Because the perceptual switch that occurred was not simple a change-adjustment-variation of what you saw originally. What you saw was distinct from what you had seen earlier. Put differently, a transformation occurred in your seeing.
What can we learn from this? Given the same ‘that which is so’ you made sense of it in two distinct ways. And, this is important, each way of seeing ‘that which is’ occurred as natural, correct and absolute whilst is was occurring the way it was occurring for you. Only by looking at the picture for a sufficient period of time, in a specific manner, did the gestalt like shift in your seeing occur. And when it did occur, it occurred in an instant. Transformation is like that.
Now think of business and organisational life and apply that which you have experienced here. And learned. Ask yourself this question: is the way that the business world is ‘pictured and talked about’ the only way of picturing and talking about it? Is it possible that there are many ways of picturing, talking about, and showing up in the business world? I say that there are numerous ways of seeing-interpreting the business world – that the number of ways is only limited by our imagination AND the influence-strength of the dominant paradigm of seeing.
Customer Experience: Two Radically Distinct Paradigms
Let’s take a brief look at each in turn.
CX Model 1: The Dominant Way of Seeing-Using Customer Experience
It occurs to me that a lot has been written about Customer Experience. For me most of it shows up as shallow, or simply putting ‘lipstick on the pig’. What am I pointing at when I speak that which I have spoken. Take a look at the following picture:
In this way of seeing, Customer Experience is viewed-treated simply as a means of:
- Increasing revenues
- Reducing or containing costs e.g. through using lower cost channels to ‘serve’ customers; and
- Risk management given that every customer has access to a smartphone and social media and thus is in a position to damage brand-corporate reputation.
The goal of business within this dominant paradigm is that which it has been since the ascendency of shareholder value and ‘greed is good’ ethos. This goal is characterised by a focus on self (oneself and one’s tribe), and greed: to extract as much value as possible in the short-term. Any value created for the customer is the minimum that it is necessary to create in order to extract as much value for ‘Self”.
Within the dominant paradigm, CRM (including social CRM) is simply a technology that is used to augment-strengthen the existing business logic: getting as much money out of the customer as possible whilst giving away the minimum; and getting as much value (productivity) out of employees whilst giving back the minimum.
Finally, in this model (as practiced) the deep business logic stays the same. Competition rather than collaboration. Self at the expense of others. Efficiency rather than effectiveness…… Importantly, people are neither trusted nor treated with respect and accorded the dignity that goes with being a full human being; threat, fear, and game playing are pervasive.
CX Model 2: A World Waiting To Be Invented, And Mastered By Few
I call the second model ‘A World Waiting To Be Invented’ because it is only practiced-mastered by a few. The rare few that come to my mind include: John Lewis/Waitrose, USAA, and Amazon/Zappos. What constitutes this second model? Here is a picture:
In this model Customer Experience is a subset of Experience. Experience encompasses the experiences of all the participants-actors-stakeholders: customers, ‘partner’s (the people who actually work in the organisation and create value for customers), value chain partners (suppliers, channel partners, outsourced partners…), and the community.
The ‘Goal’ of the business within this paradigm (way of seeing the world of business) is one of creating value for and sharing this value with the whole system (all the participants, all the stakeholders). Such a business is focussed on making a contribution and serving: enriching the lives of all participants. And usually takes a stand and operates from-into a specific possibility. Take a good look at the John Lewis constitution and you will see the stand and the possibility spelled out. Read Jeff Bezos’ annual letters or Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness, and the possibility-stand is clearly articulated.
In the model, the business logic of the organisation is designed-operated from the context of creating-generating the kind of ‘Experience’ that is mandated the ‘Goal’. Put differently, the ‘Business Logic’ now serves as the means of delivering the Experience. Not the other way around. Put differently, ‘Experience’ precedes’ Business Logic’.
From where does the design of ‘Experience’ flow? From the ‘Goal’. Remember the goal is to cater for the needs-welfare of the whole. Which is why ‘Experience’ encompasses all the actors, all the stakeholders.
In this way of looking at the world of business, and according to me, Customer Experience takes it’s rightful place. Rather than dominating the discussion, Customer Experience is seen for what it is, just one component whose meaning-impact comes from how it fits into the other components of Experience. And how it gives life to the ‘Goal’.
What becomes of CRM in this model? CRM systems are simply tools to give life to the ‘Experience’ that the organisation is committed to creating-generating. As such CRM systems must take into account the needs of Customers and ‘Partners’ (people who will use the systems) and deliver the kind of experience(s) that these folks are looking for.
Enough for today. I may elaborate on these models in the future. If you find yourself moved to share your thoughts then I invite you to do so.