Or: How desperate can one girl be?
Customer Experience Management. Why would you care? Isn’t CXM just another TLA for yet the same old story? Isn’t it just your good old online marketing in a sheep skin?
Actually, it’s not. It’s so much more than these three letters could possibly express. It’s really putting the customer in the centre of your attention and wondering about what that customer needs and wants – rather than to trick him into clicking the next available button. It’s exercising empathy and outside-in thinking. It’s the renaissance of servitude. It might not be new to everybody, but as an acknowledged movements it drastically changes the way companies relate to their customers.
But why would we need that? Why now? It’s quite simple – it’s the changed expectations of today’s online consumer. You don’t understand? Let me take you on a journey.
My internet journey started in 1995. I was in high school in the Bavarian Forrest, Germany, and that meant zero internet access. In 1995, if you were not at University or had a really geeky CEO, you had to go through quite some effort or spend serious money to go online. But I wanted to go online soooo badly. The possibility of everybody on the globe being connected, to exchange ideas, to work together for the greater good – that was such a powerful picture in my teenage head, i just HAD to be part of it.
So… This is what I did in 1995 to go online:
I was 16 and I had a valid US driver’s license at the time. And my mother had a car. But she was a bit difficult with the keys – so I told her “mother, I must go forth and study at the library in town!”. Glad to have such a good daughter, my mom let me use her car. So I hit the German autobahn (yeah, 16 and no speed limit, talk about that!) and drove to the nearest university. That was Regensburg and a good hour away. Without speed limit.
I sneaked my way onto campus and found the math & physics faculty. No offence to anybody, but those guys seemed to me the easiest victims for a 16 yr. old.
I slipped into the building behind some student who didn’t pay enough attention and went into the general direction of the computer pool. There, I looked for the weakest link and flirted with (read: harassed) some poor chap until he would give me his username and password, which I would use to log on to one of the terminals. Luckily for me, identity fraud wasn’t much of a topic back then. I spent the next couple of hours chatting on the IRC (ahhh…. how 1337 was that?) and surfing the web. I was in heaven. Go on, judge me. But let’s agree: EASY it was not.
Now, do you remember what I did that for? Do you remember, what the Internet LOOKED like in 1995? That wasn’t cool, that wasn’t exciting. That was – lets face it – crap.
But to me it looked different. To me it was magic. I was happy to cope with the fact that things were difficult and a it clunky. I didn’t mind that I had to wait a minute for a website to load if it came from somewhere far at. I enjoyed surfing around for hours for that little piece of valuable information in the midst of lots of animated gifs. I was so thrilled that I was connected at all , I felt so privileged, I didn’t dare to complain.
I apologise, if you are born post 1990 – I know I am getting old… But trust me, most of your colleagues will have some crazy story about how they went online in those early years, how difficulty and slow and crappy that experience was. They can probably still imitate the sounds of their modem. That’s still a fun past time – guess how much Baut the modem had from the dial up sounds. Sorry, I forgot, past 1990 – “what’s Baut?”
Anyway, Today, we expect websites to be there in a split second. And not just on our desktop computer at home but also on the go, on our phones and tablets. And when the page is there, we make up our mind within a few seconds if that particular website is interesting for us or not. We don’t enjoy digging around for information, we want what matters right away – and ONLY what matters, whiteout all the background noise.
We expect online services to be available at all times, in all circumstances, fast and relevant or else we turn away.
And that’s precisely what has changed – Internet is reduced to a medium, not exciting in itself, but a commodity to find relevant information, products and services.
What is relevant to you though, isn’t necessarily relevant to me. And thats why we online professionals have to take the time to sit and think about our audiences and what makes our stuff relevant to them – more relevant than our competition’s stuff.
The answer to that is Customer Experience Management. It’s not a product, not even technology. It’s a philosophy, a strategy and a promise to your customers.
What are you doing to create a better experience for your customers?