Why Diversity in CX Matters


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Diversity in customer experience is to recognize and respond to distinct customer needs. Some we recognise. For instance, legislation requires wheelchair customers move freely around a tourist attraction. Or new needs come to our collective attention.

Our empathetic response to vulnerability during this pandemic resulted in many service operations upskilling their customer facing teams. For instance, spending more time explaining how to do something new for an older customer. Or staying alert for signals that someone is suffering from COVID induced brain fog and therefore needs a slower paced interaction. 

But diversity embraces a much richer mix of uniqueness than these examples. There are many unmet needs if we put on our human-centric design hats and look through the lens of ethnicity, age, gender identities, faiths, sexualities, abilities, economic backgrounds or any kind of health condition or impairment. I believe this is the next frontier for CX professionals to embrace.

Tuning into Diversity

I doubt there are many Voice of Customer programmes calibrated to listen in this way. Nor persona families that incorporate diversity as an essential way of understanding customer motivation.

One enabling decision towards greater awareness of diversity needs is to mirror customer diversity within the teams who design and deliver customer experience.

Groupthink is the result of minds too finely calibrated around accepted patterns of thought. Diversity research showed the advantage of mixing it up.

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Oftentimes we remain unconscious to the core beliefs that maintain the status quo and lock the door on increased diversity.For instance, in Good Guys How Men Can Be Better Allies For Women In The Workplace, authors David Smith and Brad Johnson make the point that rather like being a left handed person living a world of right handed scissors, the assumptions for how office environments are designed have been based on catering to men’s needs. On the histo ric assumption that it’s all man’s work.

Therefore, the assumption for the ideal room temperature in offices and conference rooms is based on men’s work wear suits and their higher metabolic rates. In response, women need to reset room temperature, add a layer or suffer rather than have their needs incorporated at source.

It goes on. Workspace and equipment is probably based on men’s average height weight and build. Think aircraft cockpits, commercial vehicles, carpentry tools, safety protective equipment, body armour. It is another barrier to get through if you do not fit the assumed profile of person who applies for these jobs.

It still amazes me when comparing the length of loo queues in public. Is there really such lack of research and investment that we still are happy to assume an equal number meets our collective needs. 

Here is a lesser known discrimination. The ambience in office environments (noise and light, swirly patterns on carpets) is something that can matter in the context of neurodiversity. (Autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD. If we want to attract such talent we need to rethink these design assumptions. How does that translate into a physical environment we invite these types of customers into? Are we losing business as a result?

Once you start to tap into this way of surfacing needs, you can start to provide support for those whose lives have more friction in it because the world is not yet tuned into the way that matches their needs. That’s the feel-good reason. The commercial logic is that you are helping your organisation attract and retain people. Both as customers and employees.

It’s a win-win. Time to retune your CX lens?


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