Thursday, January 19, 2023

How #CX Has Evolved Since 2014 – And A Look Forward

Today is “Get to Know Your Customers Day,” a reminder to businesses to reach out to customers to get to know them better. Search social media platforms using the hashtag #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay, and you’re bound to see many ways that organizations are recognizing the day. Some may ask customers questions about specific products or services, some may follow up on a purchase, and some may ask for improvements.

To recognize today’s importance, I’ve invited David Jacques to return to my blog for a Q&A about customer experience, customer journey maps, customer experience management, and commentary about famous quotes by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction, and the link to our Q&A from 2014 is provided at the end of this post.

David Jacques, based in Canada, is a senior executive, speaker, author, and pioneer in the field of customer experience management. He has over 20 years of international experience in customer research, strategy, design, and innovation in multiple industries including financial services, consumer products, and travel. Based on years of consulting and various internal roles, he has developed a framework for organization-wide, cross-departmental, multi-channel Customer Experience Management. David’s framework cohesively brings together every aspect that affects the entire customer experience including people, processes, products, policies, and culture.

QUESTION: Back in 2014, I asked you to define customer experience. How has your definition evolved, 8 years later?
DAVID JACQUES: My definition of customer experience has indeed changed over the past few years. When I created the first definition of customer experience in Wikipedia many years ago, I specified that customer experience was the result of direct and indirect interactions with organizations. But where my view has changed is specifically on what direct and indirect mean.

An experience is an occurrence that leaves an impression on someone. After decades of researching customers, I came to realize that what affects an impression of an organization on someone, therefore their experience, is not limited to interactions WITH the organization but extends to third parties, including some that the organization doesn’t even have visibility on. Third parties are often an integrant part of an organization. This is one of the most overlooked parts of the experience and brings customer experience management to the next level.

QUESTION: Back in 2014, I asked you to provide three examples of brands that understood customer experience. You were hard-pressed to find three. How about now, 8 years later?
DAVID JACQUES: There are many companies considered leaders in customer experience based on surveys or expert opinion. But these are based on old views of customer experience. If we look at customer experience from a broader perspective, at all interactions that affect the perception of, and experience with, an organization (including third-party interactions), very few companies are doing very well.

But one company that was considered great before, and still is, even in light of a broader view of customer experience that includes third parties, is Amazon. An example I use in my coming book is with Amazon’s delivery. Although they use third parties to deliver products, they will take accountability for the third-party experience. If a package gets lost or arrives damaged, they won’t dismiss it as being the responsibility of the shipping company, they will take accountability for it.

Another example I use to illustrate the idea of managing third-party interactions is with Tesla. They may not provide a great experience, or impression, all-around, but they have found ways to eliminate pain points associated with third-party interactions in multiple ways. Most remarkably, they have set up their own electric car supercharging stations, eliminating the need for customers to charge with third parties, therefore entirely taking ownership of the charging experience. They have also set up their own car insurance.

QUESTION: You mentioned that you're writing a book about customer experience. Can you share some brief highlights?
DAVID JACQUES: I’m delighted to share some highlights. The book, entitled “Seamless,” is a redefinition of customer experience and is focused on two major points.

The first one which I just discussed is that customer experience, from the customer’s perspective, is not limited to interactions with touchpoints that the organization owns and manages. It includes interactions with third parties.

Second, and maybe more controversial, is that what makes a great experience is not an experience filled with “wow moments” and positive individual experiences, but instead, a seamless experience. I explain that what customers want first and foremost is to get things done, and they want them done without any pain, thus, in other words, seamlessly. Supported by many examples, I explain what seamless experiences are and why seamless, more than anything else, is the greatest driver of customer loyalty and business growth.

SHARE THIS: What makes a great experience is not a “WOW” moment, but instead, a seamless experience. ~@DavidJacques #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: A favorite tool of many in the CX arena is referred to as "customer journey maps." What do you think of them, and how would you explain and recommend them to organizational leaders?
DAVID JACQUES: Journey maps have indeed become one of the favorite tools in CX management and for good reasons. They can really understand the customer’s journey and identify opportunities to make journeys more seamless. But journey mapping has become a victim of its own popularity, and many organizations have started producing journey maps on an ongoing basis, without understanding how to best make use of them. Journey mapping is only as useful as how it is conducted and how it is used.

I touch on this in my upcoming book and explain that journeys – where they start, where they end, and what affects the experience – is very different from the organization’s perspective than from the customer’s perspective. Many organizations will come up with journey maps based on their assumptions of what customers really experience. But the only way to really understand the journey is by speaking to customers directly, preferably observing them as they go through their journeys.

However useful journey maps may be, they are insufficient to understand the customer experience in its entirety. They provide a narrow view of the experience. Interactions in one journey may have effect on other journeys later in the relationship. This is something that is often missed when looking at journeys individually.

Organizations still need a broader view of the total customer experience to identify root cause of the experience and effects or interactions across the relationship and over time. This is a model I describe as the Customer Experience Lifecycle which I touched on in an article years ago and provide an update on in my book.

QUESTION: There is a lot of buzz surrounding the addition of a new C-Suite position, the "Chief Customer Officer." This demonstrates that organizations want all employees to create an excellent customer experience. However, there should also be a new C-Suite position called the "Employee Experience Officer." What are your thoughts? And if you could be the Chief Customer Officer for any brand, which would it be, and why?

DAVID JACQUES: I strongly believe customer experience management across the organization needs to be centralized in one function. Customer experience is delivered by every function in an organization so, my view is that customer experience management and the Chief Customer Officer should be an independent function, just like the CFO and Finance department have a view of budgets and spending across the organization.

There is a lot of talk linking employee engagement to customer experience. But it really depends on what employees are engaged in. It’s matter of organizational culture. And that, I believe, is something that HR should already be managing. There is nothing wrong with creating an Employee Experience Officer position focusing on employee engagement and experience, but for it to have a positive impact on customers, it must focus on engaging employees in the customer experience.

It's difficult to pick a brand for which I would like to be Chief Customer Officer. Whichever it is, it would need to be a brand that does not only say it cares about customer experience but really means it. It would also need to be a brand that I admire and in which I believe. Finally, I tend to prefer working with new brands because they tend to be nimbler, so change happens more quickly, and you can set the experience right from the start.

However, a couple of names come to mind including luxury electric vehicle brand Lucid Motors, whose mission states the focus on the human experience; and Virgin Galactic, whose mission is purely about an experience – of traveling to space.

SHARE THIS: For an Employee Experience Officer position to have a positive impact on customers, it must focus on engaging employees in the customer experience. ~@DavidJacques #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: According to Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Have you ever had an experience that began horribly and ended by your becoming an enthusiastic advocate for the brand?
DAVID JACQUES: I totally agree with that quote. It’s great to listen to satisfied customers and advocates, but these only explain why customers stay. If an organization wants to grow, they must understand those who don’t buy from the company or have left. They need to listen to dissatisfied customers and identify their pain points. Even the best organizations can’t always create a seamless experience. Service failures and experience breakdowns can happen even with the best organizations, but it’s how the organizations handle them that makes or breaks the experience. More than once I’ve had issues with organizations. I’m no longer a customer of those that didn’t fix the issue, but probably still am with many of those that did. When organizations go out of their way to make things right for the customer, it creates gratitude resulting in a strong bond.

QUESTION: Those of us who live in the marketing and customer experience worlds have heard the Jeff Bezos empty chair story many times. What does it mean to you?

(Read about the story at this link:

DAVID JACQUES: The empty chair story is a reminder to all organizations that the customer needs to be at the table in every business decision. But this concept needs to be pushed even further. Some organizations will interpret the empty seat as the need to think about the customer, meaning to “wear the customer’s hat.” They will make assumptions on what the customer wants and which problems to solve, but that is insufficient.

Because organizations and customers often see things very differently, what organizations need to do is literally “walk in the customer’s shoes.” The empty chair needs to be filled with real insights from real customers.

My gratitude to David for sharing his customer experience insights and for appearing again here on my Blog.

Image Credit: 420FourTwoO and Ryan Plomp via Unsplash.

Connect with David at these links:
Twitter @DavidJacques
David’s Blog:

Interested in reading my original Q&A featuring David from 2014? Here’s the link: 

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