Should We Always Start With the Customer?

Sharp intake of breath but hear me out…. the principles of developing an intelligent customer experience hang heavily on the answer to this question. An intelligent customer experience, IntelligentCX, gives to the customer and the business in equal measure.

Examples of Intelligent Customer Experience, which came first?

Let me share some examples of intelligent customer experience in action and think to yourself which did the business creator start with, the customer value or the business value.

• Loyalty cards, many companies have these, supermarkets are prime examples
• Hotel chains offer returns for our loyalty
• Social media sites offering easy communication, sharing, and promotion.
• Mapping software providing traffic updates, searchable local services, street views…

The value to us, their users, their customers, is undeniable whether it be in tangible returns such as vouchers to spend, days out with the family, free nights away, or the non-tangible; time saving, convenience, and problem avoidance. So ask yourself, when these ideas were born out in the minds of the creators, did they start with the customer? Or did they start with what they’d get in return for this service provision.

Let’s consider supermarket loyalty schemes, did they start with ‘we want to reward our customers for staying with us’ ? well maybe but you can be sure that they also said, ‘We must maximize what this loyalty will drive for us’ and it’s not just so we come back to them month or month – it’s for the INSIGHT:

• What do we buy?
• When do we buy it?
• What times do we buy most?
• What are our brand preferences?
• What’s our spending capacity?
• What are our little indulgences?
• How big are our families?
• What changes our coming in our lives?
• etc, etc etc, the list could go on…

All of which enables them to profile us deeply and influence our behaviors. It also opens up alternate revenue channels, and cost saving models, this data is very very valuable.

Back to the Reality

Okay so that’s large supermarkets, mutli-billion Revenue Companies with huge resources, let’s look on a smaller scale. Consider an electronics distributor provisioning an online obsolescence management service. For those who have experience of the electronics industry will know obsolescence management providers can add great value to their customers, the trick is how to help drive insight as well as direct sales from the service.

Understanding the insight that is wanted through the service is the starting point and in this scenario the insight is ‘the customer purchase needs in advance of the point of a transaction’ i.e. what customers will be buying before they press the buy button, weeks or months before! So several key questions need to have answers based around the end customers projects which dictate what they buy:

1. The trigger that says a customer or potential customer has or will have a need to purchase in the future
2. Who that customer is and how to contact them
3. What parts are likely to be required and how many purchased
4. When they will require it and for how long
5. Where, the location, they ll require the products
6. How much the value will be

By mapping out all the processes and steps that customers carry out prior to purchase, obsolescence management service is a great vehicle to support gaining what is required.

Defining the business insight first in an Intelligent Customer Experience
The business insight is defined first, the customer value to provision second, the result looks like this

The potential service delivered is demonstrated at high level above but in summary by enabling customers to manage obsolescence risk (completely free of charge) provides the pull and prompt for them to supply the information needed. In return, long before any purchase has been made, the service answers the questions and provides the actionable insight.

So Intelligent Customer Experience, Answer the Question!

In a world where business talks of customer first culture, the reality and my advice is, don’t exclusively focus on the customer, you have a business to make a success of and as such the return must at least match the customer value your providing. So there is nothing wrong with starting with the insight your business needs but don’t forget to balance your efforts with the customer value your providing.

Whether your part of a company and want to get stakeholder buy in for an idea or starting up your own venture this approach will serve you well in creating an intelligentCX.

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