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« Guest Post: Graham Hill on Are Companies Collecting the Right Data for Better Customer Experiences? This one is a DON'T MISS!!! | Main | A Notice: Penelope Trunk Worth a Look »

April 29, 2009

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Account Deleted

Great post, i've already subscribed to your feed.

thanks

Chris O'Leary

Thanks for sharing these thoughts - well put and good advice. I particularly applaud the warning you offer in Step 1, that efficiency often is achieved at the expense of the customer experience. In our work, we have seen multiple examples in which cost concerns have led to a commoditization of the customer relationship.

As I was reading the excerpt, however, it occurred to me that your audience here is probably corporate types who are working to deliver differentiating customer experiences, rather than the customers who are having them. It raised a question about how this advice might look different if it were offered for customers and not companies (or even BY customers!). Based on our extensive experience in this area over the past 25 years, I suggest that there might be three areas in which the perspective from the outside-in might be useful (and different!).

First, I wonder if the "Collaborative Value Chain" would be recognizable to the customer as anything other than an idealized model. In our experience, the inside-out definition of customer activity is often portrayed as sequential, neat and tidy, with one step inevitably leading to the next. From the customer's point of view however, their life is rarely linear, but instead is characterized by fits and starts, full of messy and iterative loops. And the most important parts of that lifecycle almost always happen before, between and after their touchpoints with any one firm.

Second, I expect that customers would have little interest in process governance, leadership and alignment, but would be more interested in accomplishing what was important to them. As the CEO of a hand tool company was reported to have said: "Our customers are not interested in drills. They are interested in holes." There is no doubt that the steps identified here are important, but I wonder if they fall more into the category of drills (i.e., HOW we deliver the experience) rather than holes (i.e., what the customer is trying to accomplish).

Finally, I think that customers would say that the first step for any company would be this: Know me, don't just know about me. Don't just know what makes me similar to other customers, know what makes me different. Understand what I am trying to accomplish, not just what I am doing. As one of our clients is wont to say, knowing the customer is the ultimate competitive advantage.

Hopefully, these observations from the outside in complement the excellent thoughts presented in this excerpt.

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