Whose job is it?
These days, I spend a lot of time listening...listening to clients’ worries, concerns, frustrations, and the occasional happy surprises around customer experience. I have come to embrace the concept of “delightful curiosity”, leaning into a practice of listening with more than just my ears, but with my heart and imagination too.
Ask questions, and then listen.
This week, I was struck by this question: Whose job is it to improve the customer experience? The Chief Customer Officer, the Customer Experience expert that you want to hire, the operations team in the field, the technology team? How about the Chief Financial Officer, whose job it is to say no to what you want to experiment with, yet expects you to grow the business?
Is it their job? Is it your job?
Recently, in a conversation with my aging, newly-housebound mother, I asked her how the grocery shopping is going. She enthusiastically shared that she is an Instacart fan, but not in the way you might think. My mother, like so many in her generation, prides herself in being a thrifty, creative, and caring provider. This is never more true than when it comes to shopping for, and preparing food. Mom lives in rural Kansas, and her closest grocery store is about 10 miles away, further than she drives these days. Grocery shopping is a day trip.
My mother’s small town has a few Instacart shoppers who apparently do understand their customers. Just the other day, Mom submitted her Instacart grocery order ...and like most of us, was notified that there may be substitutions. Here’s where the story takes an unexpected twist. What did her Instacart shopper do? Her shopper FaceTimed with my mom so they could collectively make decisions about what to buy. Brilliant! Mom was able to virtually walk the aisles with her shopper and make choices. It was awesome. This experience solved the obvious problem of what to substitute, but more importantly, it elated and exhilarated my mother. Mom felt like she was independently shopping, having lots of choices and a sense of autonomy, and all the while, interacting with her shopper.
There is a reason we capitalize “C” when talking about our Customer. They all have a name. They all have unique needs and desires.
Virtual and video shopping assistance is certainly not unique to rural Kansas, nor is it altogether brand new. It is, however, finding the right consumer circumstances for widespread adoption, making it a tremendous opportunity for retailers who can do it right.
One of the consequences of COVID-19, around the world, is that to keep safe, people are staying indoors and conducting most of their business online. Due to such a drastic change in circumstance, business people are not the only ones having to learn and embrace virtual connection. We have seen the almost universal adoption of video conferencing by ordinary people. This change of behavior by millions of people around the world has introduced the opportunity to tap into consumer needs and wants like never before. Perhaps due to the isolation aspect of combatting the pandemic, customers have an increased desire for connection. They want to not only buy from, but also interact with, a real person who can advise them on their online purchase.
To exhilarate the customer experience, you must connect at a personal, human level with them.
This change in online shopping consumer behavior has already happened in China, where livestream shopping sales have increased from approximately $1 billion in 2016 to $63 billion in 2019.1 In China, however, the world’s biggest ecommerce website, Taobao, empowers small shops, business owners, and self-employed entrepreneurs with a consumer-to-consumer live streaming Alibaba-owned platform that lets users engage using a live streaming dedicated app.
So whose job is it to improve customer experience, and from where do you generate ideas?
It is all our jobs to focus on the customer...to listen to them, to delight and surprise them, and to leave them feeling heard and exhilarated. It is all our jobs to be open, to be curious, to see the opportunity and be confident enough in each other to experiment with solutions. How are your teams addressing customer experience as a cross-functional strategy? No more pointing fingers. Own it.
It’s time to share the responsibility and the honor of enhancing the customer experience.
Not only is it our job, but it is also my passion to create the type of environment within organizations where we share the mission of exhilarating the Customer. Focus on listening, observing with delightful curiosity from your customer’s perspective. It is everyone’s role to create the environment within your organizations and corporate cultures to cultivate, empower, and experiment with ideas and then have the courage to run with those ideas. Ask questions, and then listen. Your Customer is telling you how they want to connect.
Listen. Connect. Exhilarate.
Click HERE for more details on how to raise the bar on your digital customer experience--now and beyond the pandemic.
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1Al-Khowaiter, Nabil. “New Technologies Could Threaten Amazon's Empire.” Al Arabiya English, Al Arabiya English, 7 June 2020, english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2020/06/07/New-technologies-could-threaten-Amazon-s-empire.