“Customer Experience Transformation” is NOT an Objective

Home / Best Practices / “Customer Experience Transformation” is NOT an Objective

“Customer Experience Transformation” is NOT an Objective

The magic is in redesigning to what really matters – an effortless journey for all

© The Walt Disney Company

© The Walt Disney Company

Enterprises across industries and around the world have declared 2015 to be the year of Customer Experience. There is no lack of coverage about Customer Experience Transformation in the press. It is now broadly accepted, Enterprises that fail to transform their Customer Experience are prime for disruption from their more successful peers, and from startups alike. Often cited examples of disruptors include Amazon, Netflix, and Airbnb.

To confront this challenge, established enterprises are evolving in several key areas:

Infrastructure – Enterprises are adding digital and big data to solutions their existing portfolios alongside traditional business systems like CRM and ERP.

Journey Mapping – Enterprises are attempting to map horizontal user stories across all of their key customer touch points.

Continuous Improvement – Enterprises are shortening cycle times for development and adopting an iterative process of planning, implementing, and monitoring.

The approach is so universal, so it is not shocking that the most honest Enterprises report similar initial results – failure. The signs of failure are all too common:

  • IT leadership is under fire for spending millions on big data infrastructure projects that have yet to yield any business value;
  • Despite hundreds of millions in investment, customers still can’t find what they are looking for online;
  • Lots of mobile apps have been developed, but adoption remains paltry at best;
  • Teams are bogging down in the complexity of managing all of the different permutations that a cross-channel, personalized experience actually requires

Business leaders, particularly CIOs, are feeling the heat, and at some level it makes sense.  The IT department has the big teams of developers that spent all that money on hardware and yet failed to deliver the transformed, “Big Data Driven”, digital customer experience that everyone was hoping for. This situation is being compounded because now that IT has made the investment in this infrastructure, they are also going to pay to maintain it.

In his recent Wired article, “Disney’s $1 Billion Bet on a Magical Wristband” Cliff Kuang provides an inside look into how Disney transformed its own customer experience. What’s particularly relevant is that they do it using the same fundamental toolset that Enterprises are employing, yet yield completely different results. As with most magic, the explanation comes down to a subtlety in the approach.

“The idea started years ago with a handful of insiders. People jokingly called them the Fab Five—an almost sacrilegious reference to Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. In 2008, Meg Crofton, then president of Walt Disney World Resort, told them to root out all the friction within the Disney World experience.”

In most enterprises, customer experience transformations are technology led. Apps, Web sites, and analytics drive the conversation. We’ve seen this before – technology is like a shiny new toy that was sold on the promise that it will change the game overnight.

But wait! The business should not be let off the hook so easily. While IT is off playing with its new toys, business teams are spending millions to map the customer journey. In most companies, customer journey mapping is a largely theoretical exercise typically conducted by “experts”. You know the ones – the Mac-toting consultants that place countless post-it-notes on huge reams of paper that cover every square inch of the inside walls in the building.

While neither work stream is inherently wrong, both suffer from the same tragic flaw. Technology and journey mapping that are disconnected from the operational pain points of the business are a complete waste of time and money. The blame for this waste should be placed equally on both IT and the business. Whether it is a post-it note or a Hadoop cluster, both must be solidly grounded in the real world.

At Disney, the team grounded themselves with an approach that immersed them in the operations of the business, “root out all friction within the Disney World Experience”. There was nothing inherently technical about it. There was nothing theoretical about it. The team was focused on identifying and resolving pain points in the park’s current operations. To resolve those pain points, the team leveraged the latest in wearable technology, sensor technology, big data, and digital.  But importantly, they did it to resolve real-world problems.

A recipe for successful customer experience transformation has emerged, but it requires a Disney-like approach to implement. First and foremost cross functional teams must be oriented towards rooting out operational friction. Second, infrastructure and technology are enablers to reducing key friction points, but they do not lead the conversation and CIOs are not solely responsible for the results. Third, business owners are equally accountable and must resist the cleanliness of theoretical experience design.

At StepOne, we take things a step further and declare that a truly great Customer Experience cannot be programmed. This comes from our observation that nobody actually knows the right experience for all customer situations. Instead of pretending we know and placing our hopes on the next great redesign, why not design systems to embrace this reality? Great Customer Experience evolves from the experience itself. Technology helps us uncover what works vs. doesn’t, and it helps us get there faster. We’ve built our platform to address the top friction points in Customer Self-Service:

  • You can’t personalize if you don’t know who the customer is. Unless you are one of a select few brands, you can’t expect your customers will create an account with you, not to mention remember their credentials when they need them.
  • You can’t program a great experience anymore. The number of customer situations and informational resources has outgrown your ability to write business rules. How much time is wasted in requirements meetings trying to come up with the perfect set of if-then-else statements? How much more will you waste?

In order to solve for these two facts of the customer journey, StepOne has employed sensor and messaging technology to take the pain out of customer identity. We’ve also employed big data and machine learning to uncover what makes a great customer experience. And we did these things in order to eliminate real-world points of friction. Enterprises use our platform to discover what creates a great experience, and for whom. That is a subtle, yet different approach and it makes all the difference.