Customer Experience is Not Tangible

Today I am posting my first official blog representing my new company,
Stance: Customer Experience Exemplified

At Stance, our position is simple and strong: we help companies create positive experiences for their customers. From our standpoint, Customer Experience Management (CEM) is an ongoing journey (a leisurely road trip as opposed to a quick overnighter) during which we observe, address, and implement processes that place your organization, your employees, and your clientele on common ground.

For all intents and purposes, let’s start at the beginning: defining customer experience
and customer experience management.

The customer experience is not a tangible item. You can’t touch thoughts and feelings and you can’t bend an expectation or a perception. The customer experience is what happens when a customer buys a home or a phone, or orders a meal or gets a massage. The experience starts when the idea enters their mind and it really never ends. Every time a customer gets a massage or orders another meal, they think about the time before and how they wish this time would be different, better, cheaper, easier, faster, more emotional, tastier, friendlier or possibly the same. The experience belongs to the customer. 

It stands to reaason that your company’s brand promise IS the customer’s perception which is based on

  • Expectations
  • Experiences with you and competitors
  • Social interactions which affect the brand (thank you Eric Jacques, Customer Excellence)
  • Word of mouth

Two years ago I said:

“CEM is a customer-centric business strategy that ensures all employees are delivering the company values, mission and brand promise to create a favorable customer experience.”

In April 2010 I said:

“CEM is the ability to meet and exceed the expectations of those with the highest propensity to buy.”

Ron Shevlin, Senior Analyst at Aite Group and author of Marketing Tea Party blog has a knack for consistently pushing me to bend my definition of CEM and go beyond empty industry jargon…..and I like it.

Yesterday, after reading his blog, I upgraded my definition again:

“CEM is improving business processes to include customer perspective to align the employees, the customer and the organization and increase business and reduce losses due to wasteful practices…. and do it better than the competition.”

It sounds so simple.

Processes – without processes companies crumble under pressure (something I forgot I knew and learned from Jennifer Gore – mentor, stepmother and friend) and fail to create optimal customer experiences.  

Customers – without knowing the customer, there is no chance of differentiating from other companies or creating remarkable, memorable and over the top experiences.

CEM is well-traveled by large corporations…but why should they have all the fun? Stance aims to introduce smaller companies to the benefits
of CEM (to be discussed in future blog posts): customer retention, customer referrals and higher profit margins.

Clearly CEM continues to evolve, at least for me. How have your ideals and definitions of CEM evolved over the years?

Thank you for supporting my first blog post. There are many more to come as well as inevitable changes including the new site design which is under way. I look forward to your comments.

3 Responses to “Customer Experience is Not Tangible”

  1. Hey now….congrats! All blue skies ahead here!

  2. Ron Shevlin says:

    I like your newer definition a lot more than your previous definition. But why couldn’t someone claim that your definition of customer experience management is really the definition of business process management? Or does the distinction between CEM and BPM not really matter?

    Here’s what I love to see: A chart w/ three columns, with the following headers: “Dimension” “CEM”, and “the current way”. And then ideally, there would be 5-10 rows in this chart (the dimensions) that would explain, for each dimension, how what a firm does under the banner of CEM is different from the way a firm is managed today.

    Then I’ll believe CEM is something more than cumbaya.

  3. Ron Shevlin says:

    If we bring CRM into this discussion, my head will start to swim. I’ve been to too many conferences where some speaker has been up there telling the audience “CRM isn’t just a technology, it’s a business strategy.” That’s exactly the moment I shoot my cookies.

    At the risk of accusing of this — and I don’t mean to — for a number of people who I see talk about CEM, it’s become dogma: some sort of “religion” to be followed blindly because, lo unto the lord, it’s for the sake of the exalted CUSTOMER.

    But other than the endless (and sometimes meaningless) stream of data from various sources (no names needed) that purport to show how important the “customer experience” is, there’s no practice, process, science, guidelines, heuristics, etc. to help me as a manager figure out what to do, what not to do, and what the economic impact of doing something would be — other than having faith that the CUSTOMER will be more satisfied.

    The path you’re on with the definition and goals is a helluva lot more useful than what I’ve seen from a lot other sources (no names needed).