Tuesday, March 11, 2014

First Post - Welcome

There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customerThe customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.  He alone gives employment. 
-- Peter Drucker

Welcome, and thanks for visiting.  

For years now, I’ve been involved with several facets of customer experience – research, analytics, process design, management – and I’ve created this blog to share what I’ve learned about developing, implementing, and sustaining a customer experience initiative in an organization.

The blog is primarily intended for the CX manager or consultant who is looking for tips, advice, and research that will help with the management of their CX activities.  As such, think of this site as a collection of CX information from various books, websites and magazines, as well as my own perspective from my time in the trenches.

Customer experience can be overwhelming to the practitioner simply because it encompasses so many facets of an organization's activities.  Consumer research, website usability, mobile applications, retail processes, service centers, are but a few of the typical business functions that fall under the CX umbrella.  To help make some sense of these varied items, this blog will attempt to take a structured approach to presenting CX from the ground up.  That is, the first few postings will be devoted to discussing ways to understand the current situation in your company.  From there, we'll proceed to focus on understanding the various tools you can use to identify your customers' expectations and pain points.  As our comfort level with CX increases, we'll then move to posts that focus more on strategic considerations as your CX initiative evolves.

For this blog, I'm going to use Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning's explanation of "customer experience" as referenced in their excellent book, Outside In...

"CX is not...soft and fluffy, customer service, usability...

Customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your company." (1)

For the sake of practicality, I'd like to emphasize the reference to "interactions" in the context of defining CX.  Theoretically, I suppose, almost everything an organization does touches on the customer in some way.  That said, I personally think it's a mistake to hold a company's CX function accountable for all direct or indirect customer-related activities...this would be overwhelming to even the largest and most capable of teams, and would likely add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the company.  To optimize both the effectiveness of a CX initiative, as well as the abilities of the CX staff, I propose that the scope of CX be limited to those activities that are truly "interactive" between a customer and the company.  So, in-store purchases, calls to a service center, an online visit,  social media postings are all examples of interactive events.  On the other hand, such things as most brochures, posters, and TV commercials that are more "passively" consumed, should be outside the bounds of CX.  This blog will focus on CX with this approach in mind.

I’m a big fan of the late Peter Drucker, and I think his definition of the purpose of a business is spot on…the customer should be at the center of every business activity.  I hope you find Think Customers useful, and I welcome your comments.

(1) Outside In, p.7

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