6 lessons from the IQPC Customer Experience Exchange


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A few weeks ago, I attended the Customer Experience Exchange North America in Miami. I am a bit tardy in posting these takeaways, which I’ll blame on the crazy number of planes I’ve been on since I left there. Yet I left the event thinking about six key lessons and what they might mean for our clients—and all of you.

1. Chief Experience Officer? No common definition yet.

The Exchange was an intimate gathering of about 80 leaders responsible for defining and executing customer experience strategies in their organizations. The range of organizations represented was tremendous – I met leaders from firms including JP Morgan, HP, Nationwide Insurance, Hilton, Match.com, Canadian airline West Jet and Sunpower Corporation. Job titles were as varied as their industries and customers: Chief experience Officer. Global Marketing Officer. VP Customer Care. Chief Customer Officer. Approaches to their work varied as well. No common definition of the experience leader, or at least not yet.

2. Experience leaders are T-people.

People responsible for customer experience carry a broad, “all-daily-operating-decisions-have-an-impact” view of their organizations. They are also deeply focused on building the specific capabilities needed to win the performance payoff possible by solving important needs for customers. Get the “T?” And they are frustrated by peers who think more functionally, or in silos of accountability.

In this way, they’re peerless – surrounded by “I” people. In many organizations, the only other person to see the organization so broadly is the CEO.

3. Pain points first.

I regularly see a 2-3 year journey from the moment an organization declares it will strengthen business performance by becoming customer-centric to the successful implementation of meaningful change. Leaders at the Exchange confirmed something that has been on my mind for some time – that before the declaration for enterprise change is made, the journey to customer experience-driven performance actually starts with lonely champions working on obvious pain points. Think lava below the surface of a volcano yet to blow.

That’s ok. It’s a way to score some quick wins and build the case for a shift in operating strategy by top leadership. Where are you on this journey? In your organization, are there champions simply battling the low-hanging fruit? Or are you part of a global commitment to customer-experience-driven performance? This brings me to my fourth point.

4. Too few have defined an enterprise target customer experience.

Certainly among the leaders in Miami, few shared with me that their divisions, brands or companies had clearly defined a target customer experience. That means they’ve just scratched the surface of the performance payoff possible for their customers–and their organizations. A clear target experience can be used as a litmus test for decisions made across your company. It means the difference between everybody working on their version of “better” and the massive force of an organization in alignment on how to solve a need for customers better than anyone else.

5. Amazing things are happening.

Nationwide’s Chief Customer Advocate, Yasmine Green, shared the lessons of a large organization saying “I’m sorry” and the degree that social media has changed the customer experience. Organizations can choose to see the social reality as a problem and pressure, or they can see it as an opportunity. Nationwide did the latter.

When integrated healthcare system HealthPartners (transparency alert: Aveus client) wanted to show their customers what the other side of a healthcare decision was like, they created “Simple to the Rescue“, a fun, interactive journey. This was just one of many efforts to purge complexity and create a connected, personal experience for consumers – be they patients in a clinic or hospital, pharmacy customers, health plan members. Scott Aebischer senior vice president of Customer Service and Product Innovation, set the table for a raucous conversation on the “positive conspiracy” necessary for meaningful change in a complex healthcare business.

Metlife took life insurance accessibility to a whole new level when they sold it “in a box” to customers in the baby and pharmacy sections of Walmart stores. What a terrific example of earning consideration by meeting customers where they are.

David Perrota brought the lessons of working in more than 20 countries and cultures around the globe, many for Vodaphone Group. His work confirms that in top-performing organizations, customer and employee experiences are based on mutually shared values.

6. A strong customer experience is a path to stronger financial performance

I still regularly meet leaders who feel investments in customer experience are a tradeoff to profits. But none of them were in Miami. These leaders have a strong grasp on the link between a stronger experience and stronger financial performance, and dispelling this myth is a daily charge.

All in all, it was a terrific couple of days.

What about you? If you attended the Exchange, what lessons did you take away?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Linda Ireland
Linda Ireland is co-owner and partner of Aveus LLC, a global strategy and operational change firm that helps leaders find money in the business performance chain while improving customer experiences. As author of Domino: How to Use Customer Experience to Tip Everything in Your Business toward Better Financial Performance, Linda built on work done at Aveus and aims to deliver real-life, actionable, how-to help for leaders of any organization.


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