By: Joe Doria
Most of us are familiar with the idea that there are no more than five intermediaries between yourself and another person on this planet. (Hello, Kevin Bacon). It’s quite ironic, given there are 8 billion of us and yet this incredible expanse of people has such proximity. The six degrees of separation phenomenon plays out in other aspects of life and even business.
I’m a software guy—sort of. Better said, I work in marketing for one of the largest software companies in the world. And customer experience sits at the top of my priority list—how to create it, how to make it better, how to make it stand out. It’s no easy task, as customers’ needs and wants move quickly. I’d argue these needs sometimes shift faster than your business setting and context will allow. So, it begs the question of how to make sure you’re setting yourself up to exceed customer expectations? Or, maybe more to the point, how do you do it well?
In today’s post-pandemic world, digital has exploded beyond the past decades of cumulative growth. Digital services and data are the fastest-growing segments of enterprise business. And the businesses getting digital right are outperforming the rest. Meanwhile, the middle-of-the-pack has lost ground and needs to rethink or reconfigure its digital strategy to be competitive.
There are six degrees of separation between your business plan and your desired outcomes. And if improving digital services and data orchestration are a priority, then a world-class customer experience is one of the biggest connections between them. The truth is that every aspect of your business directly impacts or cascades to customer experience. Knowing the degrees of customer experience is essential for driving connections between your business plans and desired outcomes. Not to mention claiming and advancing your competitive edge.
Try This on for Size
Creating a dynamite customer experience is not a one-size-fits-all situation. It’s more like understanding how customers interact with your company from start to finish. To put it differently, customer experience is about taking care of people. Let’s look at the six degrees of a stand-out customer experience.
1. Have a clear strategic purpose
Your company values and purpose largely dictate your customer engagement strategy. It used to be that a seamless customer experience was enough to stand out, but in today’s world, it counts more to create experiences that are purpose or value driven. The clearer you can be about the strategic purpose, the easier it will be to accomplish the remaining five degrees.
2. Align your tech investments
Your tech stack represents a significant investment. And part of being a good investor, participating in the Technology Economy, is evaluating your tech assets based on performance and impact on business outcomes. When it comes to customer experience, take stock of how aligned your investments are with your strategy and purpose. Are you leveraging the right platforms for the right workloads? This knowledge will empower you to judge whether future tech investments are required or not to support customer experience outcomes.
3. Position digital integration at the core
The nature of today’s market and customers requires businesses to be agile and fast, customizable and comprehensive, and stable and flexible. Digital integration is the best way to achieve all this, to keep up with the market and your customers. Since 2020 there has been a significant increase in comfort—if not preference—for digital channels. So, positioning digital integration at the core of your customer experience strategy is a no-brainer.
4. Distinguish your brand with innovation
Innovation is a bit of a buzzword, but it’s important for customer experience. If your strategy is clear, your tech is aligned, and you’ve positioned digital integration at the core of customer experience, you will have the right tools in place to innovate. Innovation is a fancy way of saying you’ve created an original solution to a problem. When applied to customer experience, it can help distinguish your brand. Customer experience doesn’t—and shouldn’t—look the same across the industry. So how can your organization innovate for your customers? Whatever makes you stand out to your customers will make you stand out against the competition.
5. Take advantage of every customer touch point
From product search to fulfillment, and every moment in between (and after), touch points are opportunities to stand out and positively impact your customer. Consider each phase of the customer journey and how tailored experiences can deliver more value along the way. Maybe it’s a text alert for unusual activity on their credit card, an automated suggestion for a product they may like based on recent purchase history, or the option to add travel insurance when booking a flight. Each interaction is a link in the chain of their entire experience, so it’s essential to make every touch point as strong and valuable as possible.
6. Be delightful
Another significant aspect of delighting your customers is delighting the employees who are responsible for their experience. Delighting your customers boils down to exceeding their expectations and creating a lasting impression. Delighting your employees means freeing up their time to focus on the bigger initiatives, so they can rally behind and feel like contributors to the larger strategic purpose. It all relates to my simplified definition of customer experience—taking care of people.
Coming Full Circle
In the heart of every customer experience are business transactions carrying the highest value for customers. And given 72% of all transactional workloads on the planet are processed on back-end Mainframes, your customer experience is even closer than our friend Mr. Bacon might think.
Consider your business applications and data, and your hybrid architecture, with Mainframe as a critical element. What is accounted for in the customer experience with transactions in the mix, you might ask. Well ask yourself these questions: Transactional integrity? Check. Availability of services? Check. Security from multitudes of threats? Check. Speed and response? Check.
“… Creating a dynamite customer experience is not a one-size-fits-all situation.”
Yes, it’s straight-forward how attributes of customer experience directly tie to your digital and transactional relationship with the customer. All it takes is one misstep and you might never see that customer again.
Take nothing for granted. Including how you manage and operate your Mainframe and enterprise platforms. Businesses that do it right lead and win by having the right strategy, technology, and purposeful execution. How are you using the Mainframe to create better customer experiences?
If you’d like to discuss customer experience, please contact me directly at Joseph.Doriafirstname.lastname@example.org.