Looking Ahead: the State of Customer Experience

In lieu of a regular Daily Dose video, I want to share with you an excerpt from an interview I did last year with my good friend Laura Ortman—former chief customer officer of Equinix—in which we discussed a wide range of topics including the future of customer experience, our role as customer experience leaders, and the experiences of women in leadership. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.

What’s the State of Customer Experience?

Laura:                 I know you spend a lot of time talking to CX leaders as well as chief customer officers. Tell everyone:  where do you see CX—the state that customer experience is in—right now across the industry?

Jeanne:                 I’m a little afraid, because whenever something becomes super popular—such as CX—we can lose the heart of it and the meaning of it. It can very easily turn into work streams and tasks—and red, yellow, and green dots.

Focus on Leadership Through Understanding the Life of the Customer

Jeanne:                 The whole purpose of CX, of customer experience: it’s leadership. It’s choosing how you will and will not grow. Will you honor your employees? Will you redesign what you do to improve customers’ lives with their goals?

Yes, there’s metrics and competencies and work streams, but at the end of the day, we need to keep talking about the life of the customer, and the life of the employee.

My fear is that it will become too much of a program, it’ll start to feel like accounting. No offense to the accountants in the room—I love the accountants—but it’s got to continue to be about the passion place of an organization, the world’s best companies don’t lose sight, they continue to tell the story of customers’ lives.

Going Beyond Customer Experience to Create an Entire Ecosystem

Laura:              We have folks here in the room; we have people dialed in from all over the globe here. We talk about everyone plays a key role in customer experience; how would you describe the role, whether you’re an employee, or you’re trying to drive customer value, and just the overall success of an organization in driving a better customer experience?

Jeanne:                 It’s interesting, because what’s on the inside shows up on the outside. I’ve almost started calling it X now. It’s not customer experience; it’s really the whole ecosystem of your organization, and are you united? We have these things in our companies called silos that are built for a reason, because we need to be good at a set of things.

But in our zest to be good at a set of things, we inadvertently are building this set of things separately. And the customer is the only one falling in-between the Bermuda Triangle of these silos; hence the reason for a period of time for the chief customer officer role and the customer experience work.

Think about how many people in your organization really have a comprehensive view, even the CEO doesn’t necessarily have a comprehensive view until we knit it together, because you’re presented by silo. Their KPIs, their red, yellow and green dots, their achievements, which are all well and good, but we need to find a different way to build.

Build comprehensively, then break it into its piece versus starting with the pieces—and this is an Italian word—munging it together, and that becomes the experience. I think that’s really the work.

I've almost started calling it X now. It's not customer experience; it's really the whole ecosystem of your organization, and are you united? Share on X

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