The official 2015 Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant kicks off in another week, though it is more de jure than de facto, as it a living creature that updates from moment to moment. Its formal update generates an intense re-visiting of the criteria and definition of the space, which looks at the combination of tools more impactful in engaging a customer who has a need for advice and help, consistently and across all interaction media. A tall order.
Thinking intentionally about the role and definition of customer service in an enterprise endeavor (whether that enterprise be a university or township or US State or branch of a national government or consumer goods company, telecommunications, entertainment, high tech or low tech, utility or other….), and it shares a lot in common with the Higgs boson, AKA, the God Particle. It is so basic, so elementary, so subtle, and so powerful, that it underlies the raison d’etre of every organization: to serve the customer. Like the Higgs boson, it is not zero, even if in your business it is treated as a near-zero by marketing and traditional IT leaders. That is because that, again like the God Particle, it creates nearly no excitations, it is modest, subtle, powerful, and pervasive. To find the Higgs boson they had to build an incredibly powerful particle accelerator under the earth outside of Geneva, run by the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (but known as CERN).
Fortunately for us, any organization can create its own center of customer excellence from the basic materials already at hand: employees and customers. The real trick is a CEO who understands that the customer is at the center. Steve Jobs was known for a fanatical concern for design, yet it was he who said, ‘You have to start with the customer experience and work backward toward the technology.’ It is that simple. With an enlightened CEO, the wheels are in motion. With an enlightened CIO, the parts will be assembled. With advanced spirits in operations and customer support, the right teams and measures will be put in place. They will be your CERN: customer experience and relationship nodes, orchestrated for excellence.
What is in the way? Mindset. Travelling to businesses and speaking with operations and marketing and IT, we look for the VP of customer service. She or he is usually nowhere in the room. Walk down the corridor and you can hear her singing the great 1975 Linda Ronstadt hit, “When will I be loved?”
I’ve been cheated
When will I be loved
I’ve been pushed down
I’ve been pushed ’round
When will I be loved
That is kind of what it is like. Marketing says that they own the customer journey maps and customer experience maps. IT says it owns tool selection. Procurement tells customer service that it will go with the best priced tools. HR tells customer support what it can pay for the right talent. Other than those limitations, fly!!! By the way, Linda Ronstadt was playing a cover of a 1960 song written by Phil Everly. It took 15 years, another arranger and singer, and a change in the order of the lyrics before it became a huge hit on the album, Heart Like a Wheel. Greatness can take time, and little tweaks of an awesome idea, new owners, new leaders, and collaboration, can result in greatness.
What is standing in YOUR way? Is it you, the CIO? Or you, the VP of Operations who is too timid? Is it your CEO? It is NOT your customers. They do not enjoy your departmental squabbles and hijinks that hobble their experience, and when they’ve had enough, they move to your competitor. We all have a choice. What do you see in the DNA of the great companies? Are you one of those great companies? Why, or why not?
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