Why 2016 should NOT be ‘the year of the customer’


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As fireworks lit up the night sky all around the world to welcome in another new year, millions of people were already deciding to commit to resolutions for the coming twelve months. Some resolutions were related to personal health and well-being. Some were financially related. Almost all of them will signify goals or challenges that must be met and overcome. As I sit here writing my first blog post of the year on the year on the 4th January, my online channels are being bombarded with a plethora of brilliantly worded articles suggesting a whole variety of resolutions that will transform the lives of individuals and companies alike.

I must admit that I am no different to most. I always enter a new year with certain aspirations – some formal; some informal. I do not always publicly or privately announce anything I intend to achieve, but psychologically I am always full of good intentions. I believe that to be the case with anyone who decides to create a single resolution, or indeed a list of multiple resolutions – they are always (well almost) very well intended.

The dictionary definition (I love a good definition!) of the word ‘resolution’ is as follows:

a firm decision to do or not to do something

It is not that complicated! The key words in the definition are ‘firm decision’ – a commitment in other words. Committing to change something – to stop doing or to do more of – that is what is not easy at all! The thing about resolving to do something – to change something – is that the act of resolution is not/should not be one that is finite. So many people and so many companies make decisions to change…….. but very few are able to actually commit to making the change infinite.

CX IN 2015

At the end of 2015, I wrote an article for my column on CustomerThink – the article was entitled ‘Customer Experience in 2015 – 5 Key Learnings’ – have a read if you would like to know what my key observations in 2015 were. If you do not want to read the full article, this is what I said about one of my 5 learnings – the one about ‘commitment’:

It still amazes me how much time and effort is being put into the subject of CX – all over the world – for such little reward. There are so many who have great intentions to transform their businesses, but either fail to commit to making change happen, or fail to get the commitment of others to do so. Getting people to acknowledge the importance of CX is relatively easy. Gaining acknowledgement of the need to change is also not that difficult. In fact, diagnosing what is causing the problem is also not too great a stretch.

HOWEVER… seeing businesses actually COMMITTING to doing something about the things that are causing customers most distress is where the wheels are falling off. I still hear too many companies saying, ‘we know what the problems are’ – if you know what they are, then why are you not addressing them?! We are living in a business world that is swamped with data – most companies have KPIs coming out of their ears – yet when it comes to actually committing to fix the known drivers of customer dissatisfaction, PROCRASTINATION seems to be the norm.

If a business truly, authentically, genuinely wants to become more customer centric, it must make a firm COMMITMENT to understanding what its top priorities are and actually FIXING them. It needs to make a commitment to its customers and colleagues that is never ending. Customer Experience is not a fad. It is not a project. It is not a one off event. It is infinite.

Over the last 20 years, I have worked in and with companies who have resolved to make a commitment to doing something different. In recent times, some of those companies have resolved to make the new year, ‘the year of the customer’. Whilst I have always believed the intention to be right, I have now come to the belief that making the decision to do something like this will ultimately FAIL to make the resolution or commitment finite.

If most humans fail to commit to their resolutions as individuals, it is very likely that most companies will as well. Think about it this way – if 2016 is to be the year of the customer, what does that mean for the customer in 2017? If 2016 is the year of the customer, does that mean we do not have to care about the customer any other year? EVERY year should be the year of the customer – from now until eternity. Every year should be the year of the employee as well for that matter!

Too often Customer Experience is still being seen as a ‘project’ or an ‘initiative’ – both of these have a start and an end. To become a truly Customer Centric business, an organisation will need to change the way it thinks and works FOREVER – not for 12 months – not until something else that is more ‘important’ comes along – but FOREVER.

So if your business has decided that 2016 is ‘the year of the customer’ – do not panic. It is very likely to be statement full of great intentions. What you may want to consider is suggesting that 2016 signifies that ‘next phase’ in the evolution of your company – one that recognises the importance of people (customers and employees) and how everyone from top to bottom can play their part in ensuring that PEOPLE  start 2016 at the TOP of every agenda and stay there…… FOREVER!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Golding, CCXP
A highly influential freelance CX consultant, Ian advises leading companies on CX strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. Ian has worked globally across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing, telecoms and pharmaceuticals deploying CX tools and methodologies. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of CX, Ian was also the first to become a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) Authorised Resource & Training Provider.


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