What Does It Take To Close The Customer Experience Gap?

Is Knowledge / Understanding The Key To Closing The Customer Experience Gap?

A few well known brands are renowned on the basis of how their customers experience these brands. Year after year, the situation remains the same: the same brands stand out in terms of the customer experience, and of the rest most of them are doing ok (not great) and haven’t improved much from the previous year.

So what’s missing?  Is it that the Tops and Middles in these so-so organisations/brands don’t understand the importance/value of customer experience? Is it that they don’t understand how to go about improving the customer experience? If this is the case then the mountain of speaking and writing that has taken place and continues to take place on the important/benefit of Customer Experience is failed. If this is the case then all the effort that academics, consultancies, and ‘gurus’ have put into coming up with and pushing forward their secret recipes – approaches, methods, tools and techniques – has been wasted.

Hold on. Could it be that what is not missing is not knowledge/understanding – of the benefits, and how to get there?  Could it be that folks understand Customer Experience and that understanding is not enough?  I invite you to read and reflect on the following words of wisdom:

In life, understanding is the booby prize.

– Werner Erhard

What is it that Werner Erhard is getting at? I don’t know because I was not present when he spoke those words. What I can share with you is my take on what he is getting at. The world is changed though action not understanding. A wo/man with no understanding and some action is likely to get much farther than a wo/man with a limitless understanding and no action.  Hence, the assertion that in life (as we experience and co-create it) understanding is the booby prize.

Bridging The Customer Experience Gap: Knowledge, Desire, and Action

The other day I watched a Dan Ariely TED talk. In this talk he talks of three gaps: the knowledge gap, the desire gap, and the action gap. Lets use these to grapple with the CX gap – in particular what is involved in closing the CX gap.

CX: Knowledge Gap

This is the gap between the following:

  •  Your organisational view/rating on how your organisation is doing in the Customer Experience realm; and
  •  Your customers’ view/rating of their experience in doing business with your organisation.

Clearly customer research, including voice of the customer surveys, can be of value in getting a sound understanding of the ‘cx: knowledge gap’.

Please note, if your organisation is using VoC surveys to reward/punish your people then I advise you to work on the assumption that these VoC are being gamed and as such unlikely to be accurate.

CX: Desire Gap

It is not enough to know where things are at; remember Werner Erhard’s quote on understanding as the booby prize? The critical question is where do you want to be in terms of the Customer Experience? What type of Customer Experience do you want to deliver?  This brings us to the CX: Desire Gap:

  •  The  Customer Experience your organisation desires / wants to show up (deliver) for your customers across various touch-points and the customer journey as a whole; and
  •  How you think your organisation is doing today in terms of the Customer Experience it delivers to your customers.

  • Look if where you want to be is where you are at then the conversation is over! There is only a meaningful conversation is there is big enough gap ‘cx: desire’ gap. Why? Because desire is the starting point, the motivational fuel, for shaping our actions in the world.

    CX: Action Gap

    As I stated at the start of this conversation, our only means of effecting change and making a dent in this world, even a tiny dent, is through action.  So we must face the action gap. Many (if not most) of us desire to be slim and have the knowledge to achieve state and yet do not arrive there because we fail to act. Many (if not most) of us desire to be ‘leaders in our chosen field’ yet do not arrive there because we do not do what it takes.  It occurs to me that this is also the case with the matter of closing the CX gap. So where to start? How to get your organisation to act?

    It occurs to me that to address the ‘cx: action gap’ it would be wise to recognise and work with organisational reality. What is this organisational reality? I am not in a position to make a definitive statement/assertion. I am in position to make a tentative one. It may be a safe bet that organisational worlds are worlds in which selfishness and short-term focus are the primary and overwhelming attractors of behaviour – especially at the managerial levels.  Therefore, it may that the CX appeals that are most likely to be heeded are the ones that appeal to selfishness. And will deliver results over the short-term.

    Which appeals are most likely to work the best?

    In my time working with the folks in marketing, I have found that they only act (wholeheartedly) on those suggestions that matter to them: lead generation, and in some cases direct sales. And which respect their need for adequate space for the exercise of creativity.

    In my time working with the folks in sales, I have found that they only act (wholeheartedly) on those suggestions that will allow them to close more sales, more quickly, with less effort, and less oversight and micro-management from their managers.

    In my time working with the folks in charge of call-centres, I have found that they only act (wholeheartedly) on those suggestions which promise a reduction in the demand falling on call-centres – if these suggestions can be implemented in ways that do not involve any significant changes to the way that the call-centres are organised, staff, managed.

    Which avenue is the most promising for all three of these areas? Digital. Effective use of digital technologies and channels increase leads, increases sales, decreases the work load falling on call-centres and improves the customers’ experience of your organisation. At least that is my experience: most of my CX design and change experience has centred on effecting change through digital means.  It has been the road of travel with the least resistance. That may have something to do with the fact that the work of digital falls to other parties – like the IT department, the digital agency, outside saas vendors and associated consultancies / implementation partners.

    What avenues are most likely to be effective in closing the ‘cx: action gap’ in your organisation? Remember, we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in the short-term and underestimate what we can achieve over the longer term.  It may be ok to start small and take it from there.

    And Finally

    I recommend that you watch this TED talk by Dan Ariely. Why? You are likely to get a better appreciation of the knowledge gap, the desire gap, and the action gap. You may also learn something about how human beings work.

    Author: Maz Iqbal

    Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

    4 thoughts on “What Does It Take To Close The Customer Experience Gap?”

    1. Maz, I once went on a course where I was taught about “change management”. How do you get people or organisations to act differently. The course stressed that you need 5 things:

      1. Awareness
      2. Desire
      3. Know how
      4. Ability
      5. Reinforcement.

      Not so different from the gaps you discuss.

      I do wonder how much of our inability to change is that we are simply Lazy. Or maybe it is just that we are happy with the status quo?

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      1. Hello James,

        It occurs to me that we are creatures of custom. And as long as the custom works well enough, and others are following the custom, we stick with the custom. Actually, I may have that wrong. This implies that we are in control of our customs (habits). It may be more accurate to say that in our every day way of being-in-the-world our habits have us – are us. Therefore, unlike something ‘life shattering’ happens to release the grip of habit for long enough, we continue to show up and operate as we have been showing up and operating.

        All the best
        maz

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    2. Dear Maaz,

      Thank you for sharing very good article, i am going to use this in one of my Customer Services training. I want to watch this video but not visible on this page, i am also unable to find this video on TED web. Can you please share the link?

      Like

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