How many exposure hours have you had recently with your customers?

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Back in April, I talked to Andy Macmillan, CEO of UserTesting, about a new industry report that they had released – The Rise of the Experience Economy – The 2019 CX Industry Report.

The big headline this year was that more and more organizations have started to talk about the overall experience they are creating rather than just talking about new technology or digital initiatives. That implies that while many firms may have said that they were going to be customer-centric or customer-focused in the last few years, much of that intent was getting lost in digital and technology initiatives.

That’s great to hear.



However, embracing a genuinely customer-centric or customer-focused approach may prove problematic as, according to Macmillan, more and more companies are no longer engaging with the people that they’re doing business with. They are no longer physically talking to, meeting with or observing their customers and are relying on the data they have on them to make decisions about what they want, what they like and don’t like.

The problem is that customers are not their data, and that is leading to a situation where many companies don’t have a deep understanding of or empathy with their customers.

To illustrate this, Andy told a story of one client who wanted to use big data to shorten their checkout experience. They wanted to do this as they felt it would be a huge win and would create a much faster, easier, and more friction-free experience.

However, when they had completed the work, the client found that their subscription churn rate had skyrocketed.

When they looked into this more closely, they found that their original checkout process was instrumental in helping them build brand loyalty. By going through a longer process, their customers felt like they were getting a box of goods that was designed specifically for them and that, in turn, was creating a tremendous amount of value.

If only they had taken the time to talk to a few customers, they would have been able to see what their experience was like through their eyes.

But they didn’t. They relied purely on data and a series of assumptions and, as a result, their data and their analysis led them astray.

What is clear from this story is that if you want to deliver an engaging experience that delivers long-lasting value, then you have to realize that while data and analytics may be able to take you a long way, there is no guarantee that it will be able to take you all the way.

Gathering the real and very human insights that can take you the rest of the way takes effort, discipline, commitment, and what Macmillan calls ‘exposure hours.’ That could be anything from volunteering on a help or support desk, listening in to calls or visiting customers in-store or on-site.

So, the question we then should be asking ourselves is: How many exposure hours have you had with your customers over the last few months? And, when I say you I mean you not your people or an outsourced agency or solution provider. You, personally.

If the answer is zero, then that is a cause for concern. If it’s higher, then think about how you can scale that and then get more of your team involved. Don’t delegate the responsibility of getting to know your customers to your team. Please take responsibility for it. Lead from the front.



Andy believes, and I agree with him, that if you can find a way to scale that exposure time, you will get it back tenfold.

This post was originally published on Forbes.com.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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