Seamless experience – give me a break!

How can we achieve seamless experiences when we don’t have seamless organizations?

Before we get to argue for this real customer need of seamless experiences we have to resolve the lack of our seamless organizations.

How can any digital transformation take hold within the organization when there is such a serious lack of customer-centricity?

Business units stay locked in silo’s, being measured by how they perform their tasks, they continue to build their individual business case, often over the detriment of others.

They continue to fall into the trap still, they are internally competing for scarce resource and capital and no one actually resolves this, they relish it!  There is this accepted practice to push constantly on the need to invest in the front-and-back-end solutions when they lack this understanding of the customer journey, and in so doing totally filter out part of the customer expectations, preferences and values, if they do not fit their task at hand for them, as the company providing the product or service.

They fail to recognize that today, the decision is in the hands of the customer, not theirs. Can they continue to ignore knowing everything they should need to know about the customer?Something has to change within organizations but what? Many organizational leaders promote internal competitive, to sift out the potentially weak and limit the would-be-challengers to their own positions. We continue to manage our organizations in an industrial age way, determined to hang on to the vestiges of the 20th century. Let each compete for budgets, for promotions, for resources and fighting for the necessary C-level attention time.

Regretfully these highly disjointed and dysfunctional structures are totally irrelevant to the customer and their needs. They live in a world highly connected to their ways, it can be designed, adapted, extendable and full of experimental solutions. They expect smarter, personalized, connected and responsive solutions to their needs.

The business has to find ways to connect and those are not within the company, they are all outside.

Connecting individually is going to be a slow and limiting path to take. The value of connecting in the cloud, on platforms, and in ecosystems accelerates the transformation need dramatically, yet it is demanding work and entails significant leadership, vision, risk and change, something most leaders are just not equipped to do, let alone the people working within many of today’s organizations. It is wrenching in almost every way to how a business has been managing up to today.

The transformation path we read about focuses on big data, analytics and all the promise of rewards yet to come. We need to think utterly differently. If you do not irradiate this ‘inward’ focus and place customers at the core then those that fail to adapt will eventually perish.

Technology is disrupting everything around us. The mantra of “we need to accelerate innovation to grow” may still be top of a leaders agenda but do they actually achieve it? It is the ability to become agile, flexible and ‘seamlessly connected’ so you can be constantly evolving, adapting to change and meeting customers needs, that are moving faster is the delivery proof.

Customers today are quick to judge, fast to walk away. You might put hours into your web site, your brochures, TV and media promotions but if you fail to connect and offer a fast response to inquiries or complaints, or you do not offer the ability to track orders in real time, still can only interact on limited channels and still highly restricted on social channels to communicate you have disconnected ‘flows’ of information, then you are eventually history! Customers need to connect when they need too, customer service or technology response has to be in their time, real-time!

Walking in the customer shoes- really! Do they really fit?

We all hear that phrase “we need to walk in our customer’s shoes” but do we honestly even understand what this truly means? Executives often view the world from their office, disconnected from the real world, still reliant on historical data. They just fail to engage with their brand in the way customers do, how can they when most inside organizations are not allowed to use most of the social media sources while at work? Knowing how the customer works her decision-making process in his or her mind needs engagement, it needs real time, it needs connecting constantly in multiple interactions, not discrete moments.

We here talk about how customers do not want discrete products, they want to connect, engage and build more, much more and the business simply misses out, if it can’t adapt to this changing, demanding customer world. They, your customer, are seeking their solutions, and can “feel” when they are actually getting real value in serving their needs.

Take a look at Amazon and how it quickly went about building different business opportunities as it connected into the customer at its core. It saw the need and capitalized on the opportunities. Nike has become far more than a brand of shoes or sporting apparel with the connecting of the ‘experiences have now become the brand? It has gone from selling sneakers to being a lifestyle brand, launching ‘wave upon wave’ of fitness programs and concepts, ensuring the designed products meet that lifestyle need as well as engage constantly with their customers cements the customer loyalty and their experience constantly.

Our problems lie within

So we struggle to have an omnichannel presence, we lack a comprehensive customer journey map in many of our organizations and we ‘fixate’ on our issues and problems.

The sad thing is, many of the executives within organizations recognize that they must create a better customer experience, yet how many still have not even taken that one, defining step of creating a single, integrated customer response or engagement unit? Bots help but they take you only so far.

In all honesty, most of our businesses today are at a shockingly early stage in designing a technology roadmap that aligns to the customer journey they are seeking or need. They can’t track, connect, engage, integrate and customize this journey. They still focus on sales volume and repeat purchase on what they have and cannot yet consider lifetime sales potential, or know how to build customer influence, working with others building support that “embraces” the customer.

This is where ecosystems and platforms come in.

Just imagine each silo has to plug into the same platform to engage, build into and is extracting from the same data pool. what if you connect to many data points, visibility quickly rises for fresh insights. Through the cloud, the network and collaboration parts grow in importance and become more central to employee engagement as you see the power of having insights, you appreciate having a connected ecosystem of partners that can react, respond and share and you grow in confidence and exchanging with customers because you have insights, their and yours together to offer solutions or suggestions.

That customer understanding, increasingly in real-time, where the data is flowing in, the exchanges being made, increasingly from all those connected multiple touchpoints you are relating to their needs. Their story, their history is being captured, personalized and built into a ‘web of understanding’ that drives the insights that generate the next level of innovation that can engage the customer in your future.

Then as you extend out, you build your awareness of the ecosystems of your own business and its capabilities, you can relate it and extend it with your partners in a new innovation design mix and give it that customer’s engagement shake for the perfect cocktail.

Opening yourself up to different ideas, insights, and needs, then you begin to recognize the value of others, within the design chain, the other stakeholders who are expert in different parts of the connected need of customers. You extend out your thinking, you form more connections and you are able to face your customers with more confidence.

‘Dumb’ or discreet products turn into ‘smart’ one and ‘stand-alone’ products become connected platform solutions that those within the ecosystem jointly work upon as they meet their personal needs but extend the customer experience beyond what is existing.

This is the customer starting point, give them what they not only need but desire and that comes from connecting technology and people. The power of both coming together in ecosystems of mutual recognition, willing to work on platforms to share and extend their thinking but above all, to look to offer customers “experiences” they are looking for.

The power of connecting all up, both on the customer and supplier side can be within your grasp through an imaginative design of ecosystem and platforms. These generate a potential way beyond one company struggling to reach out to a customer base, lacking the technology and real insight, they give infinite possibilities.

We can be lucky or we can be smart. I think connecting all that is on offer today through technology is the smart way to go, don’t you?

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