Delivering a great customer experience

I recently attended a fantastic business lunch presentation by John Stewart, who formed and leads Cisco’s Security and Trust Organization, where he asked the captivated audience this disruptive question; Are you ready for a new world where the convergence of mobility, big data, the cloud, collaboration, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are bringing profound changes for businesses and countries? Are you taking actions to avoid becoming just a digital memory? Surviving and thriving these next few years will take very different thinking. He also stated that 40% of current businesses will be threatened by global disrupters, sharing with us the example of Weight Watchers, who have become 95% less valuable, in the last 18 months despite “last year’s Oprah effect.” Suggesting that it is going to require a more strategic, systemic approach as well as a deep customer focus and a great customer experience, rather than relying on just a celebrity endorsement to bring back lost market share and value.

Founded in the 1960s, Weight Watchers is facing more competition than ever in the $65 billion weight-loss business. Numerous calorie-counting mobile apps have become available, as well as wearable fitness devices that track calories and weight. Some have suggested the Weight Watchers brand and interest in classroom weight-loss meetings may be fading, too, as millennials and even some baby boomers look to technology and more mobility.

So what happened – the business model shifted, and so has what customers expect from their experience!

As some of you are aware that I am at heart, an “old retailer” having learnt the executive management and leadership ropes during my years in marketing development at Grace Bros Department Stores.  In the eighties, our focus was towards “the customer is the king” so our strategies included target marketing, market positioning, design management and on the shop floor customer service. A great customer experience was about customers being able to access the right product at the right price, in the right location and then receiving the best possible service from the salesperson when purchasing it.

However, since then, as stated by John Stewart, the convergence of mobility, big data, the cloud, collaboration, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are bringing profound changes not only for businesses and countries, but also for customers in terms of their expectations and the experience they want to have when they engage with an organization.

Improving customer experience

It seems that most companies initially believed technology would deliver an improved customer experience, so they sought technology solutions designed to improve customer loyalty. The focus on this solution was to deliver an increased ROI, only to find that;

Companies ran into multiple roadblocks mostly from employee fear, resistance to change, lack of internal competences and mistaken belief that software could bypass change management. Vendors, on the other hand, introduced a steady stream of features at a cadence that outpaced the capabilities and understanding of the most sophisticated users.

It is apparent now that this did not deliver the expected results; causing frustrated users are taking a step back to evaluate why delivering the experience customers valued was so hard.  

The three key barriers we have observed at ImagineNation™ in our innovation culture consulting projects that have got in the way and made this so hard to do, include:

  • Most companies are still structured around products instead of customers, and tend to operate in product and profit centered based silos which promote individual and solo rather than team and collaborative efforts so fragment rather than harness peoples energies and efforts.
  • There is a real disconnect between many companies and their customers demonstrated by;
  • An overall lack of customer empathy, it’s role and what it involves,
  • No common understanding as to what customers currently expect and potentially value from their products and services,
  • No common understating as to how to treat customers in the delivery of products and services which may be different from the way they may expect to be treated.
  • The absence of formal customer feedback loops and transparency around the brand promise and the way business gets done.
  • Focusing on digital experiences as a “tick the box” sales process and not actually engaging and interacting with customers to create a deeper emotional connection and experience at the critical point of the sale.

What does a great customer experience mean today?

Customer experience is about all-inclusive strategic alignment between the customer’s engagement expectations, brand promise and the company culture behind the brand.  To win, CEOs must be maniacal about that alignment .

At ImagineNation™ we suggest companies pursue this type of aligned strategic and systemic approach, by developing an organizational culture that will harness the convergence of mobility, big data, the cloud, collaboration, and the Internet of Things (IoT) and merge it with people’s collective genius within the company.

This will enable the organization to see and understand customers expectations and solve their problems and to explore ways of creating, adding and capturing what customers perceive as value.

The three key steps in delivering a great customer experience

1.Clarify brand promise and strategy

  • Put the customer at the business enterprises’ epicenter by knowing what customers expect and value from the enterprises accessible and easy to use products and services and clarify this within a coherent brand promise.

2.Empower and enable people

  • Create lines of sight to between peoples role in delivering the brand promise and their customers, unlock and harness peoples collective genius and develop their ability to empathize with customers so that they make the right decisions and serve as advisors and advocates to customers in vale adding ways.

3.Deliver the brand promise

  • Deliver the brand promise by creating products and services that customers want, expect and value, incorporating lean and agile production methods, rigorous research and development processes, quality management and pre and after sales service processes to anticipate and resolve customer issues and complaints quickly.

The Customer is still the King

As we all know, the customer is still the king, it’s just how we acknowledge and deliver their royal role has shifted, and we achieve this by thinking differently; to take a strategic and systemic perspective and by putting cultural alignment as the top company  priority.

By putting People before Process, Value before Profit and Solution before Product  companies can not only survive and thrive, but they can also flourish in this new world that John Stewart talks about and is co-creating as a part of Cisco.

At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviours and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.

Contact us now at to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt and grow your business in the digital age.