Apple, John Lewis, Amazon: Masters of the Customer Experience?
Christmas is over and three organisations stand out for me: Apple, John Lewis, and Amazon. Why? It occurs to me that the people in these organisations get customers as human beings, are clear about the kind of customer experience they are up for delivering, AND have put in place a system for delivering this kind of customer experience.
On Integrity and the Customer Experience
Integrity is essential to performance. Breakdowns in integrity will generate breakdowns in performance. Breakthroughs in integrity will generated breakthroughs in performance. If your organisations defines performance as cultivating meaningful relations with customers through the right customer experience then integrity determines the quality of the customer experience.
It occurs to me that when I am talking about integrity I am pointing at a state of being, an outcome, and a system. Let’s consider these in turn.
- What do I mean when I say ‘integrity as a state of being’? By this I mean the way of showing up in the world. Specifically, I mean a way of showing up in the world where you are committed to emboding-living your word. Can we call this an embodied attitude? The outer manifestation of an inner stand-commitment.
‘Integrity as an outcome’ occurs for me as delivering on the promises made. There are two dimensions here: the promises made to oneself, and the promises made to the others. Integrity as an outcome is measurable – you did or did not deliver on your promise. If you are in any doubt about whether you delivered on the promise then ask your ‘customer’ – the person who is holding you to account for the promise (implicit, explicit) you made.
When I speak ‘integrity as a system’, I am pointing at the parts and the interconnectedness of the parts, so as to come together as one harmonious system whose default disposition is to deliver on the promises made.
When I look at Customer Experience through the lens of integrity, it occurs to me that the real measure of one’s integrity as a state of being (point 1 above) is what one does and continues to do is to put in place ‘integrity as a system’ (point 3 above) so as to deliver ‘integrity as an outcome’ (point 2 above).
What is the Learning Here?
It is not enough to want. It is not enough to believe. It is not enough to have good intentions. It is not enough to talk fine words. What really matters is the design of the system. When you take a look at the system that generates outcomes you will find that all human systems lack integrity; at the level of the person, the family, the organisation, the community, the nation and even the world what there is is the lack of integrity. It occurs to me that the lack of integrity is the default condition – it is what shows up automatically. I see it as the principle of entropy at play in the human world.
It occurs to me that the reason that the likes of Amazon, Apple, and John Lewis stand out in terms of the Customer Experience is because the people in these organisations, starting at the very top, get the importance of integrity especially ‘integrity as a system’. And as such there is relentlessness in enhancing ‘integrity as a system’ at levels of their organisations: individuals, teams, functions, channels, business units, the organisation, the organisation and its suppliers, the organisation and its partners, the organisation and its customers…..
Why is it that so few organisations excel in the way that Amazon, Apple and John Lewis excel? Because it takes genuine commitment, relentless focus and lots of hard work to put together and keep up integrity at the level of organisation.