Why Technology Upgrades Aren’t Solving Your CX Problems


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“Just a few years ago, we had more than 100 social media listening …tools. We’ve consolidated those … and are now delivering a consistent experience… In addition, we have built out customer journey mapping and CX design principles … across the company [to] create a consistent methodology.” These are the insights of David Mingle, global director of customer experience strategy and enterprise experiences at General Motors.

When technology is developed with a focus on technology versus the customer, it rarely satisfies CX requirements and creates a significant disconnect between what consumers require — and what is actually being delivered. According to Charlie Cole, Chief Digital Officer at TUMI, “Technology is not a strategy. Differentiation through technology is not unique. Competitive differentiation is achieved by solving customers’ needs and problems through the smart technology solution.”

High-tech “solutions” and operations rules must be based on a solid foundation of customer insights detailing exactly what customers expect. This sounds obvious but is rarely the case.

In learnings from 16,000+ hours of VoC research interviews conducted by our firm, ERDM, consumers were emphatic that;

  • “I expect today’s technology to reflect my interests and preferences.”
  • “What we receive is not smart personalization. They aren’t personalizing the things that matter to me!”
  • “It’s obvious that you don’t understand my individual needs. You are trying distill my complex needs into simple generalities to make it easier for you … and useless to me!”

Deepika Pandey, Group Vice President, Customer Experience, Direct and Digital Marketing at The Walgreen Company said that Walgreens is using technology that makes sense for their consumers. Innovations such as “Refill by Scan” lets consumers take pictures of pill bottles, submit, and in a few hours, the prescription is ready at their local pharmacy. In less than four months the program has accounted for more than half of all prescription refills ordered through Walgreens’ mobile applications.

Here are a few of Pandey’s key points;

  • “Simplicity is complex, but when you get it right you win every time. You’re trying to take that friction out of the experience, and we’re just obsessive about that.”
  • “There’s nothing that replaces the experience of going through something as a consumer… What we like to do when we’re talking about our roadmap is to … really see what the customer is going to experience.”
  • “I think the reason we’ve been successful is that (we aren’t creating) technology for technology’s sake. It’s really thinking through the customer issues that we’re trying to solve.”


Operations and technology innovations and upgrades need to be developed around research-driven understanding of your consumers—and what THEY want. Per a Forrester blog, “Companies … have traditionally been organized around …measures of efficiency and control. Customers have disrupted that logic. Customer journeys transcend functions … This is forcing companies to place experience as a top design consideration to ensure consistent experiences across all touchpoints.”

If technology is not in line with the sophistication level of your consumers, it will be perceived as too complicated and instead of serving as an improvement it will be perceived as unwanted friction.

Companies must truly understand the wants and needs of consumers as well as their level of technology sophistication. Upgrades and improvements need to be just that—a betterment of the consumer’s experience. When new measures are put in place without this base of consumer understanding, then what might be considered “industry standard” will turn out to be nothing more than unwanted friction.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


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