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I came across an interesting article recently recapping many of the current themes and trends being discussed in customer experience.

The article is ostensibly a recap of Sprinklr’s Digital Transformation Summit, held recently in Nashville. If you’re unfamiliar with Sprinklr — it’s not quite a huge name in enterprise circles yet — it’s a social media management and automation tool that’s gained a lot of traction. Dion Hinchliffe, an IT/CX-driven leader at ZDNet, wrote the article linked in the first sentence above.

There are two interesting pull quotes in this article (the entire thing is very good, but these two stand out). I’m actually going to invert the order in which they appear because I think it will drive home the broader point even more.

Quote 1: The 50 first dates problem

As Sprinkr’s VP of Product Enablement, Paul Herman observed later in the day, without this integrated view you end up in the unenviable and unsatisfying situation of “having 50 first dates with a customer.” That is, going through the same process of getting-to-know-you and initial engagement over and over again, as you they connect with you via different digital channels and devices over time. Addressed correctly, this disassociation of experience can be resolved by looking at the process holistically, then offering a more contextual and informed journey for the customer. This can be achieved by centrally managing customer identity, then building on historic knowledge of the customer and previous interactions with them.

The problem here is obviously the delivery of the experience. You don’t want a customer meet-and-greeting you 50 times. Eventually they will choose a more seamless, integrated experience over that. I know some people who left some of the meal kit companies initially because they kept getting ads or re-introduced to the brand on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, in their GMail, etc. The experience needs to be consistent and reliable across channels, of course.

Quote 2: Why the experience isn’t often reliable

This is from John Chambers, the Chairman of Cisco:

Making an impassioned case for fixing a typical customer experience that has become entirely too fragmented, haphazard, and poorly integrated in many organizations, Chambers noted that most of us “have dozens of vendors that support customer experience in our organizations, but the reality is that few work well together.” So we end up with more and more experience silos, as new channels and devices continue to grow and proliferate.

The two key concepts there are “few work well together” and “experience silos.” This is what happens when groups don’t talk to each other, or there’s an internal belief that a tech vendor can solve anything — and you should use your budget as you see it. This is where we get 12 overlapping vendors for 1-2 central problems, and while the vendor is helping the silo head who’s paying them directly, they’re probably not working with the other silo heads. The problem here leads to the problem above: too many vendors not integrating is ’50 first dates.’

Unite the silos

This is always going to be Step 1. The silos need to be united around:

  • The importance of customer experience
  • Metrics that matter
  • How they get compensated or given bonus packages
  • The vocabulary
  • Who does/owns what

One team can still “own” email customer experience, let’s say. But that team needs to have a similar vocabulary and incentive structure as a team that owns brick and mortar return policies, etc. When everyone is allowed to do their own thing — and everyone has budget — you create this “Vendor Carnival” whereby your customers are, yes, going on 50 first dates every time they want to buy a couple of sweaters. You ultimately lose those customers. The first step to stopping that loss is uniting silos around what matters to them and how these topics will be discussed.

This post originally appeared on Jeanne Bliss’ website and is republished here with permission. 

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About Jeanne Bliss

Jeanne, a keynote speaker and best-selling author, has spent 25 years leading the customer experience for Lands' End, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, Mazda and Microsoft. She founded CustomerBliss in order to create clarity and an actionable path for driving the customer loyalty commitment into business operations.

For more about Jeanne, visit www.customerbliss.com

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