There’s a very interesting discussion going on the Customer Experience Management group on LinkedIn. You’ll need to join the group to see the full discussion, but I’d like to share a few tidbits here.
I’d like to applaud Kevin Brown for starting the discussion, with this: “I am concerned with the growing executive backlash against CX and would like to hear your insights.”
I don’t know Kevin personally, but based on his comments and LinkedIn profile it seems he works mainly in the call center, and has expertise in CRM technology as well.
He starts with this:
During several C level meetings I recently attended, whenever Customer Experience was mentioned (not by me!), their eyes rolled and I detected several snickers of laughter.
I’ll be completely transparent here – I share their concern about Customer Experience being the latest fad where “those who can’t, attempt to teach.” I try not to use the term Customer Experience at all, and since we focus solely on the voice channel, get away with saying caller experience whenever I slip into a generalist term mode.
My firm focuses completely on caller experience with Fortune 500 firms, and nothing else. We keep running into situations where “CX experts” have pitched an all too familiar generalist sales pitch, but they have been tossed out by our potential clients.
He and some others go on to say that CX could become a fad like Six Sigma, TQM and CRM, as the industry fills with consultants, vendors and gurus hoping to cash in on the CX wave.
I share his concern, but perhaps from a different vantage point, having lived through the CRM and Social CRM hype. I see tremendous value in CEM as a discipline, and don’t think CX is just “old wine in a new bottle.”
And I believe the focus on the customer experience has been a crucial development in companies trying to become more customer-centric, customer focused, outside-in, or whatever term you’d like to use for delivering value that creates more loyal customers.
However, the industry seems poised to paste the CX label on virtually everything, and therein lies the biggest danger. Here’s my take, as I posted on the discussion:
Yes, the Customer Experience is important. It’s one key element in customer loyalty, but it’s not the only thing. Products still matter, and so does competitive pricing. (For more on this, see my article “What Really Drives Customer Loyalty? It’s Not Just About the Experience!” at http://bit.ly/JRowxF .)
The issue I see developing is that CX/CEM is becoming the cure for everything. Products aren’t products anymore, they are product experiences! Price is not a price, it is a pricing experience! Everything is an experience!!!! So of course you need CEM to make those experiences AWESOME.
This is the path that CRM and Social CRM advocates took, and it didn’t end well. People get tired of hype, and business managers don’t believe consultants/vendors/gurus who proclaim they have the cure for everything that ails business.
I would hate to see CX/CEM going the way of yet another fad, due to “over selling” by all of us who are passionate about the idea. That includes me, who lived through the CRM hype.
So as we start a New Year, my advice to CEM/CX advocates is to tone down the rhetoric and don’t try to be all things to all people. Show how improving customer/company interactions will increase customer loyalty and drive more profitable revenue growth. That’s what really counts for most business leaders; they are not worshiping at the CX altar.
Kevin goes on to say this, and I agree completely:
Even the best CX folks get too enthusiastic sometimes, and while the core of what they are saying is true, the output sounds too much like a TV evangelist and the message is lost, while poisoning the listener’s opinion of CX.
But I also think that business leaders would be wise to look past the hype and not discount the CX movement. Or, as I said in the discussion:
… perhaps the executives doing the snickering are really only interested in doing “point solutions” whereas the idea behind CX/CEM is more strategic in my view. The idea is not new — it dates back some 25 years ago to Jan Carlzon’s book Moments of Truth. His belief as that “Anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression.”
On the one hand, I think it’s fair to say that just about anything you do in business can be connected to the customer experience. If you improve your supply chain and cut costs, that improves the “pricing experience.” If you build more innovative products, that improves the “usage experience,” and on it goes.
But is that really what CEM is about? I see it as mainly focusing on the company/customer interactions; expanding to product innovation or pricing is a “bridge too far” to keep CEM focused and adding new value to business.
Unfortunately, what I’m seeing more of lately is that anything that has even a whiff of a customer is being re-labeled as CEM or CX. That would be a repeat of a big issue with CRM, which for a time became the “flag of convenience” (per Gartner analyst Ed Thompson) for any customer-related project, but later became a term to be avoided as the hype ran wild.
To sum up, we could muck up a really good thing by trying to make CX mean everything. Please, let’s not, because then CX will mean nothing, and those executives rolling their eyes will just say “I told you so” and wait for the next fad.