Google “Yahoo” to Understand Successful Customer Experience Strategy


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Do me a favor. Open up the front pages of Yahoo and Google and compare them side-by-side. Go ahead. I’ll wait. OK, ready? Now what is the first thing you notice?

Yeah, you’re exactly right, Yahoo’s front page is nothing short of digital chaos.

This comparison is a classic example of what happens when a company is aware of the customer’s point of view when developing the overall corporate strategy. Google understands that people go to Google for a purpose, whether it is to look up cat facts or convert grams to ounces. Google has aligned their brand promise to their core service so well for so long that the general population now says “google it” instead of “search it.” Google basically “Kleenex-ed” the Internet.

So what does this imply about the elements of a successful customer experience strategy? As a consultant with Andrew Reise Consulting, we like to define a successful customer experience strategy as one that is holistic, aligns with the corporate strategy and always starts with the customer’s point of view. We have discovered that for a true customer experience strategy to work, both the customer and the company have to move in parallel paths throughout the customer lifecycle.

For instance, Google understands that their users have a specific purpose every time they visit their site. For many of us, Google is an essential tool in our daily lives. This was also once true for Yahoo as well. But Yahoo soon lost sight of the customer’s point of view and became seduced by all the frivolous bells and whistles of other flashy websites, eventually turning their simple front page into a carnival of news, sports, and entertainment headlines. Granted, the decline of Yahoo goes beyond the staleness of their front page, including the recent revolving door at their executive level. But it becomes very apparent that Yahoo’s front page reflects a brand strategy that is uncertain in both who their customers are and what the company wants to be, which is the fundamental problem that customer experience consulting seeks to resolve.

Google, on the other hand, understood that a web search was the transportation for web users, not the destination, and rightfully decided to continue the strategy of improving our vehicles performance and once in awhile, would offer a suggestion to make a pit stop at Gmail or YouTube. Meanwhile, Yahoo decided that their strategy would be to convince their user to plan a “staycation” instead, and neglected the original brand promise to help the user with their journey.

Even though I am part of the most tech-savvy generation yet, we prefer simplicity and usability in our technology choices. Every time Facebook adds more useless features to make it harder to stalk our friends or iTunes pushes another update to distract us from listening to our music, we are the first to protest. A close friend of mine who is a mobile developer said it best, “Swiss army knives are nice, but most of the time, people just need a knife.”

A successful customer experience strategy is not just improving friendliness at call centers or being the only company that doesn’t charge baggage fees, neither is it trying to please every customer by conforming to every suggestion, complaint or Like on Facebook. A successful customer experience strategy understands your customer’s needs and expectations, applying those expectations across the company and ensuring the customer’s journey to be as simple as possible.

Jeff Geuder
Jeff Geuder is a Sr. Consultant at Andrew Reise Consulting, helping clients develop and deliver on their customer experience strategies. Jeff lives in Chicago where he enjoys following hipster culture and discovering new techniques to incorporate bacon into everything. Follow him on twitter (@JeffGeuder).


  1. Just enjoying your concept of a relationship between perfectly executed customer experience and the brand becoming synonymous with the task. I’ve recently noticed some friends moving from “to Hoover” for vacuum cleaning on to “to Dyson” – could be the next example?!

  2. Jeff: check out this WSJ article (in today’s print version so you need a subscription now to read the full text – hopefully soon it will be availabel to everyone):

    Some key points:
    New Yahoo! CEO (hired from Google) Marissa Mayer removed the stock ticker from the internal website and stated to employees: “I want you focused on users.”

    Article notes using customer feedback and usage information to improve their offerings.

    –Perhaps if her efforts are able to gain ground on a turnaround, the surge in throwback coolness (mustaches, skinny jeans, and a PBR) will include a [email protected] email address.

  3. Haha. I haven’t heard the “hoover” and “Dyson” example before. The other one that seems to becoming very synonymous, at least in my environment, is “do you want to get coffee” is now “do you want Starbucks.” This is usually met with a “sure” or “yea, lets go to that good place down the street.” To me, this is where things get a little terrifying.


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