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As has been customary for the past three years, I take out my crystal ball, dust it off and, like any good consultant, venture to say what I think is going to happen in the next 12 months.
So as I rub my crystal ball and look for where I think the opportunities are going to present themselves in 2015, I see …
Remarkably differentiated design
I believe products, services and marketing communications are heading for a revolution as far as creative differentiated design is concerned. More and more companies I work with are looking to employ people with unconventional qualifications and experience to help them with design. The question I am asked most is how one trains Customer Experience designers. The answer is: you give them a skill set and then you cultivate the ability to see things as no-one else sees them – to connect the dots and not create the original intended picture. I don’t advocate teaching people to think out of the box, I personally first convince them that there is no box. First remove the limitations and fear and then start solving problems in a user-centric manner.
Design is free and scalable, now is the time to use it!
Leaders who get it, GET IT!
Leaders who believe that authentic customer experience crafting will be the lifeblood of their business in the future will gain such an advantage that they will leave their competitors behind. History has proven that if you start out with good design, it is incredibly hard for any rival to duplicate it, especially if your brand promise is woven into the fabric of your value proposition and it’s honest, true and human. Instead of such a brand denying making mistakes, it sees every mistake as an opportunity to show it has a heart.
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Leaders who truly support customer experience as part of the fibre of their business strategy will attract the right people to support and transform their brand experience.
Collaboration and integration are the key that will unlock the heart of a brand
In working with diverse brands over the past decade my experience has been that the larger the organization, the greater the challenge of transforming into a client-centric brand. The more the number of moving parts means the culture has to be so incredibly real and inspiring that it spreads like a highly contagious virus.
For a research article I recently interviewed someone who works in an organization where collaboration is like a foreign language. She told me they’d rather encourage individual problem solving and then tell people how bad their ideas are when they present them. This will not be tolerated in organizations that are aiming for emotional maturity, resilience, trust and the values that enhance a great customer experience. The more silos are bridged through collaboration and the more the goal is simplified to a single customer promise, the faster an organization will travel on its path to delivering wholehearted brand promises.
Discover the heart of your brand
I remember visiting Italy some years ago and buying a mocha pot from an elderly Italian gentleman. He was about to close his shop and reopened it just for me since I was standing at the window longingly looking at the coffee pot. It was called cuor di moka (heart of the coffee). Apparently the coffee pot extracts the real essence (heart) from the bean. This made such an impression on me and for the past six years I have started every day with a cup of “heart of the coffee” from my faithful cuor di moka pot.
Brands need to rediscover their essence, their heart, their reason for being in 2015. It will be a year for answering the question: Why you do what you do and why you are the best at solving a customer problem?
Some brands have forgotten, others have not continued through the years the tribal story telling that reminds them of the heart of the brand and why they do what they do.
As the lyrics of that amazing Eagles’ song go, “Some dance to remember, some dance to forget” – Hotel California. Some companies keep themselves so busy they forget, whereas others keep themselves busy with focused and purposeful activities that help them remember daily why they do what they do.
Focus on less than a handful – you will NOT get to all your projects!
At the start of a new year, with new projects, new staff and new budgets and suppliers knocking on the doors, the challenge for customer experience leaders is what to focus on.
Distraction is the enemy of real customer experience transformation. I was recently consulted by a client who showed me their project register and asked me what they should start with, because they need to finish all their projects in 2015. With customer experience transformation it’s never the number of projects you complete or processes you optimize, it’s always the number of hearts and minds you converted in the first quarter of the year. The biggest benefits come with the most transformative initiatives that touch people who touch your customers. That’s where you should start … Yes, process and service design, yes product development and measurement, but always consider what has the biggest impact in terms of re-igniting a love affair with the people for whom you solve problems!