Hello world – You need a strategy
Welcome to the customerstrategy.net blog. You can look forward to weekly updates on subjects that have to do with business strategy, customer experience, and that great zone where the two subjects meet. While it would be lovely to believe that all companies are growing and have unlimited investment funds, that is not the case in the real world. In this universe, businesses have to make choices about where to invest for growth, and how to cut costs without making customers want to leave. To set the tone, let me talk about the nature of strategy.
Why bother with strategy?
The reason you need a strategy is simple: you do not have unlimited resources and never will. The word comes from the Greek Strategos and means “Generalship”. Its origin is in how to deploy your scarce troops, equipment and diplomatic resources to win battles and wars. It is all about defeating the enemy. No general ever won a battle by saying, “I don’t care where the enemy is, or what they are doing. I am going to line up my army three deep all across this open battlefield. I don’t care what weapons my army has nor how they compare to those of the enemy. I don’t care about the weather today or tomorrow. I don’t care what my allies are doing. I have given my troops their top 20 priorities. We will just walk slowly forwards and I am sure we will win.” Sounds ridiculous? It should. Unfortunately, this is what most companies’ customer experience strategies look like.
Your enemies are outside your company
In business, your enemies are your competitors. The purpose of any business strategy should be to do things differently or better than your competitors so you can win. The strategy should be articulated in terms of three to five priorities or initiatives that are easy to remember and make the biggest difference. The number of priorities is important. Despite ancient psychological research that suggests the number is seven, I find that teams in modern businesses cannot spontaneously remember more than five priorities. Think about this in terms of being able to list your priorities on the fingers of one hand.
Typical corporate challenge: timing
Like marketing, customer experience improvements have their effect in the mid-term. Major changes in strategy tend to take 18 to 24 months to have a demonstrable effect. This is a long time for companies that measure their progress primarily based on their quarterly financial results. Bridging this gap and maintaining sponsorship for the work will be a major blog focus. Maintaining sponsorship is largely about communication, and I will often suggest how behavioral economics theory can help.
I intend to provoke
I tend to express even subtle concepts in a black-and-white way, which can seem provocative. So let me start to provoke you a little. When you see lists like “The 15 keys to customer experience” or “The 30 things you need to do to keep customers loyal,” the authors don’t know what they are talking about. Perhaps I should tone that down and simply say that the authors have not yet put enough thought into what they are writing. If they had, the blog posts or articles would have titles like “The three keys to customer experience” or “The five things you need to do to keep customers loyal.” No person or organization can work on 15 things at the same time. Some must be more important than the others.
Always based on science
Opinions I express will always be fact-based. Well, almost always. As you will see in forthcoming blog posts, there is no scientific evidence to support many of the things that are generally believed in customer experience communities. There is no evidence that you must “delight the customer at every interaction” and I will offer evidence that suggests or even proves that you should not. There is little evidence that employee happiness makes any difference to customers, as will be conclusively proven in a blog post I will have ready in late January.
All this does not make me right
While I may have opinions and the science to back most of them up, that does not necessarily make me right. Your feedback is welcome on all posts, and I have no plans to moderate or censor any of it, within legal, ethical and moral limits.
I hope the blog and resulting discussions will be fun and educational. My brother will help with his own brand of illustrations and humor. Sign up for our newsletter if you want to know when we post something new. Happy New Blog and Happy New Year!