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​The customer experience algorithm

# ​The customer experience algorithm

There is logic in looking at improving the customer experience as a pure maths problem, says David Gee

All companies are on a journey to transform their customer experience and taking various approaches to this, but what are the basic elements of this equation?

Can you solve this problem, just like you can with an advanced calculus equation? It would be wonderful to find the magic formula to creating an amazing experience wouldn’t it?

I’m sure you fondly remember your days in school doing mathematics. I’ve always wondered how useful were the formulas that we all learnt. As I have got older I’ve realised that most of these techniques have not been of much use.

In business, the idea of using an algorithm to manage what is considered to be a ‘touchy feel’ topic would also be ridiculed. But there is logic in looking at this as a pure maths problem.

The customer experience is the holy grail for most enterprises, and it is clear that there is no single owner. In the past, it has been the case the chief marketing officer (CMO) has grabbed this and driven the development of customer journey maps.

But the reality is that customer experience is the result of doing many things well. Using the framework of an algorithm we have a multiple ingredients that make up the numerator.

There are organisations that have adopted digital, design thinking, Agile, big data analytics, mobility, social and many more strategies to attempt to realise a better customer experience.

But this is not about doing of these activities on ‘steroids’. I would maintain that this would create the risk of doing too much and overwhelming your customer with transformation.

Singapore Airlines v US airlines

A simple example when one has the experience of travelling with Singapore Airlines in first, business, or economy class.

First, business or economy, it is no comparison to what you enjoy on an American Airlines or Delta Airlines flight. The customer experience on Singapore Airlines is hard to match and putting your finger on this is not that easy.

There are a number of factors from the smiling welcome, personal entertainment and the food service. This all starts prior to check-in and the boarding process.

Doing many things right make a great customer experience. But getting the mix right is all part of this journey. It is not necessary that you have to be the very best in everything to have a great customer experience. But clearly when you raise the bar, any weaknesses are amplified.

Best cooks take great ingredients

You have to partner with your CMO, COO and other c-suite colleagues to ensure that you collectively get all the best possible ingredients. The art is in taking these and making them all work in harmony that is reflected as a great experience for the customer.

For instance, don’t think about digital or analytics in isolation.

Take a more holistic view around how you are going to improve the customer service for different segments of customers. This is when the sum of the parts exceeds the pieces.

Your action plan needs to take into account this broader view and in a recent study organisation identified multiple variables that they needed to improve the customer experience.

Recently, I heard Mike Pratt, commissioner for Service NSW talk about the transformation journey that he is leading. He noted that the government agency was consolidating 30 customer call centres into just 2. This was all about doing a major reset of how customers are being serviced by the NSW government.

Should you walk past a Service NSW branch or kiosk, it is obvious that something uniquely different is happening and it is not a new lick of paint. Behind this are numerators such as payments platform, design thinking, service mindset and digitalisation.

Mike Pratt talked about the many hundred of physical licences that are being printed (hunting, fishing, driving etc) and how his team is moving towards this being all consolidated into a digital version that sits on your smartphone.

CIO taking leadership on customer experience

I’ve talked about this problem being an algorithm, which suggests that this is a problem that can be solved. Howeer you may be aware that in reality there are many unsolved problems in the world, that maths has not been able to yet tackle.

As CIO you have a choice, wait for your internal customers to involve you or get in now and partner to make it happen. No doubt you and your team is already involved in delivering digital or analytics, but that is not enough.

Being a business leader mean stepping up and taking leadership on the customer experience. It really can’t happen without you, the mathematics just does not work.

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