Orchestrate your customers’ experience


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Businesses are often described as machines. This metaphor from the industrial age doesn’t translate well to today’s world. These days organisations are no longer just producing one thing – and lots of it – but are far more complex organisations that require internal and external coordination. What about thinking of a business as an orchestra? Try it! How do businesses perform? What show do they put on for their audience – their customers?

Performance is an essential concept for businesses, but what does it really mean? Many small performances by individuals or departments do not add up to a great symphony. By considering the customer as the ultimate recipient (or audience) of the performance, a business can begin to come together like a great orchestra – and really perform. Let’s look at four key elements of a great performance; knowing your strategy, moving your audience, alignment to a common vision and working together.

Knowing your strategy
A great orchestra can play a well-known symphony with new insight and originality – each time they play it. How? They know their context in history and respond to new trends and ideas.

Businesses that operate in a sector with commonly known practices and systems can still out-perform their markets. How? Be different, draw on the big trends and ideas in your own market as well as in others. Respond to the actors influencing your industry. Develop a concept of how you want to perform and define a clear purpose.

An organisations’ strategy should not live in the boardroom but on across the business. A clear and clearly communicated strategy guides an organisation at all levels.

Move your customers, as music moves people
All great performances move people. Is your business moving people? If not, get started today! Move your customers! Move them from taking up your offer to doing more with them – they will stay loyal. Customer loyalty can be achieved through offering an experience that offers additional value to customers’ lives. You will quickly reap the benefits from offering an experience that moves your customers.

A great conductor will have a plan of where to place the emphasis to move the audience. Businesses can do this too.

Guiding customers is not the same as herding customers. The majority of organisations still push customers through processes and procedures that don’t benefit the business or its customers.

Aligning channels to deliver a great customer experience
A great performance requires alignment. The sections of an orchestra work together, know their roles and complement each other. Compare this to the channels your business uses to deliver service to customer.

The retail, online, telephone and other channels need to act together, not compete or work in isolation, to deliver a great experience. This will also create value rather than have one channel disrupt the work of another.

Customers already move between channels at their convenience, as the lines between digital and physical channels get more and blurred.

Working together to deliver the ultimate experience
An orchestra also needs a back office – the crew and support to get them to the venue. Departments and channels in a business need to do the exact same thing to achieve alignment.

The only way to really align your business is to get all functions working towards the same strategic purpose, and the same customer experience. Once the overall business purpose and customer experience are defined, roles of each department or channel – in delivering that ultimate experience – can be identified.

It is easier to rally and motivate staff around customers’ experience than improving KPI’s. Sharing the results and improvements engages front stage and back stage staff.

Great conductors have experience and insight
Over the past 12 years we have found that an aligned focus on the overall business performance is essential to deliver a great customer experience. Sadly this singular focus is often missing.

Businesses need leadership in the act of creating the customer experience – however, not many ‘machines’ see a need for such a role. The few businesses that have taken leadership in delivering great experiences, as one businesses, far outperform the majority – who continue to work in silos.

Customer experience, defined from the outside and delivered across channels
A great performance for an orchestra results in an enrapt audience – who had a great evening – who will come back for more, recommend the show to their friends and buy the music. Businesses want similar things. Happy customers – who return for more and recommend your products and services to others. Doesn’t this sound like a great goal to strive towards at every performance?

Ben Reason
Ben Reason is a service design consultant with 20 years experience with a wide range of public, and private sector organisations. As a founder of Livework he leads the London studio and team on projects that bring a customer view to major challenges and opportunities in industries ranging from healthcare and financial services, to public transport.


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