Original article from WSJ
It was one of those cold autumn days as I walked across the parking lot of a potential client. I was thinking how quickly the nights were drawing in when I entered their reception area which was very grand and I waited for Pete (not his real name), the Head of Customer Experience. Pete was very friendly and as we walked to the conference room he said, â€œWe are so excited to have you here and weâ€™re keen to show you the work we have been doingâ€. I love these types of visits. I could sense Peteâ€™s enthusiasm.
As I walked into the conference room everyone was standing, waiting to see me, as if royalty was making a visit! I was introduced to Peteâ€™s Customer Experience team, all smiling and welcoming. I sensed a bit of tension mixed with anticipation. I made a poor joke about the weather and everyone nervously laughed.
â€œThanks for coming into see us Colinâ€ said Pete, â€œThis is my Customer Experience team and we have been working on outlining the Customer Experience for the last 6 months and we wanted to show you how much progress we have madeâ€. They were clearly proud of their work although seemed a little nervous. I guess I also knew I was about to disappoint themâ€¦
What I could see as I entered the room was a series of process charts on the walls. This is what they had been working on. They wanted to improve theirÂ Customer ExperienceÂ but had spent all of their time thinking of the process.
These are always difficult situations as I could very easily spend 5 mins looking at what they had done, tell them where they were going wrong and be out of there in 15 mins, but maybe I am just too soft as I wanted to let them down gently! They spent the next 45 mins showing me what they had worked on. I smiled, nodded and asked sensible questions. I wanted them to feel I had taken into account the work they had undertaken.
It got to the point where they asked me for my feedback on their work. â€œThis is a lot of great workâ€ I said, â€œlet me talk to you a bit about Customers for a moment before I give you my thoughtsâ€. I spent the next 45 minutes enlightening them on the fact that Customers are just people â€“ that they are driven by emotions and they are irrational. I could see a lot of lights coming on! I then said what I could have said 90 minutes before, â€œThere is a big difference between a process and an experienceâ€.
What they had achieved was to outline the process not the experience. The room fell silent and the realisation of what I had just said sunk in. I could sense the disappointment. I went on to explain that a process is an internal view. An experience is the experience Customers have and they are very different. I made the point that there is a rational, emotional and subconscious experience and only parts of the rational experience have been outlined and nothing of the emotional andÂ subconscious experienceÂ despite the fact emotions account for over half of the Customer Experience. I gave them examples of how Customers do things that are not logical and outlined how Customers would by-pass their processes. I suggested that that they need to build a customer journey from the Customerâ€™s perspective. We discussed how to design an emotionally engaging Customer Experience using ourÂ Moment MappingÂ®Â experience design tool.
As I walked out to my car I reflected on the fact that after ten years of writing my first bookBuilding Great Customer Experiences, where I outlined seven philosophies for building a great Customer Experience, why so many organizations still look at the Customer Experience from an inside out perspective rather that outside in. There is still work to be done!