The rise and upcoming fall of customer experience

Recent years have seen a lot of hype surrounding customer experience, but without anchoring the concept within a deeper digital transformation, it’s just another overhyped buzzword.

I am always interested in looking beyond the hype and trying to understand what is really happening, which is why I seeked out Michael Bednar-Brandt who is Director Digital EMEA at Oracle.

Michael has worked with digital in various digital leadership roles since the late 90’s and have extensive experience with what goes on behind the scenes when new technology meets old organisations.

The customer experience hype is deafening

To be fair, there is no doubt that customer experience is important; a concept that is influencing all corners of business, not just digital. Take marketing where the omni-channel approach was novel a few years ago and is now a mandate.

The notion of the customer journey has also gained followers, and companies have poured vast amounts of resources into managing customer touch points. Michael Bednar-Brandt agrees that this focus has many benefits, but it becomes problematic if it consumes too much attention within the business. As Michael puts it:

Customer satisfaction is a good thing, but it is far from enough to successfully drive your organisation forward”

Why your customer experience plan will fail

The issue with customer experience is not the idea of putting emphasis on the customer, but rather the way the concept is being treated in all too many organisations. Focusing on customer experience tends to lead people towards an external view, where communication and dialogue with customers claim highest priority.

This would be fine if there weren’t other more important aspects to developing an organisation. Yes, you might be able to invite customers to innovate and develop your product, but it needs to be in a climate where the organisation is itself driving that innovation. The organisation needs to grow it’s value for its customers, but also for it’s employees and its stakeholders. This is where the framework of digital transformation has more to offer than that of customer experience.

Digital transformation — how you can save your customer experience

Michael points to three horizons of digital transformation and related activities:

  1. Tactical: All activities you undertake to close a gap identified, whether in comparison to your strategy, your competitors or just fixing something that is broken today.

  2. Transforming the industry: All activities to gain or regain a leading position in your industry by radically embracing new opportunities within the changing environments of today. These are typically strategic initiatives with multiple projects.

  3. Exploring the future: All the things we don’t yet know or really understand. Business models and product or service offerings beyond what you have done so far, across fading industry barriers. How will your business work in the future?