Customer Experience in Times of Remote Work

Customer Experience in Times of Remote Work

Many analysts, including myself, have repeatedly written about us having entered a new normal, which is enforced by a so-called green swan event – an event that according to BIS is “extremely [financially] disruptive and that could be behind a systemic [financial] crisis” (brackets set by Thomas Wieberneit). Supply chains are broken, employees need to work from home, stores were forced to close for prolonged times, and so on. This has the potential to seriously harm the base function of a business, which is helping their customers solve their problems. Looking at the pyramid of customer expectations, businesses are often barely, if at all, able to maintain its lowest level – the level of effectivity – and are far away from making it easy for their customers or even providing them with a joyful experience when interacting and engaging with them. Figure 1: The hierarchy of customer expectations Yet, we are in an era where products and services themselves get increasingly deprecated and the experience becomes the main distinguishing factor for continued success. Still not all organizations are set up to deal with this. Most are not resilient enough to fend off or at least mitigate the disruption caused by a crisis. Some organizations are affected more than others. So are the people who work in these organizations. Salespeople cannot interact with their customers in the ‘usual’ way anymore. They cannot go out and visit them currently. Customer service professionals need to change their ways of collaboration with their colleagues, they cannot just ask their neighbour anymore. Marketing Teams cannot create and host offline events due to distance and...
Corona is over! And now? Trust, agility, and relevance are key

Corona is over! And now? Trust, agility, and relevance are key

Let’s fast forward about 6 months and Imagine that the Corona crisis is over. Well, not really over, but being on a way of economic and especially psychologic recovery. There will be (yet another) new normal, a new equilibrium of life, personal as well as business. Societies, governments, economies and people have learned to deal with an unprecedented situation. How will the situation look like for businesses? And how will software vendors and consultants be able to improve the situation of their customers? Businesses were forced to a grinding stop, with obvious and disastrous results not only for themselves, but in particular for their customers’ experience. They will have seen huge losses, in spite of governments providing lots of stimulus in terms of trillions of dollars. Businesses more than ever before are facing the need to look precisely at where they spend their money and how they get their restart accomplished. Many people have seen or still are in unemployment. They need and want to contain their spending, too. Business leaders know that their situation has changed. They do know that they need to make their businesses more resilient. They surely have learned that a – to use this buzz word – digital transformation is not an option. It never was, but Covid-19 taught them the lesson that they severely underprioritized this topic. So the why and the what have been hammered down. What business leaders do not know is: How? They do not yet know how to recover and how to initiate or to continue their much-needed digital transformation. Overall, this translates into a situation of uncertainty for...
Customer Experience is the way! But where is its value?

Customer Experience is the way! But where is its value?

These days, everyone, including myself, is talking about a great experience being the new differentiator. About product, and service being less and less of a factor distinguishing businesses. There is talk of customer experience, user experience, brand experience, product experience, consumable experiences, but mostly this is summed up under the umbrella of customer experience. With this, of course, businesses are reacting with creating customer experience initiatives, building strategies, and implementing solutions, from customer journey orchestration via 1 to 1 marketing solutions, or voice of customer programs. The result is significant investment and CEOs being convinced that their customers have a very good experience. Just that their customers tend to not agree to this assessment, which leads to a considerable experience gap. Abbildung 1: Experience Gap. Source Qualtrics What is the experience gap? At the end of the day, it is the mismatch between brand and product promise and delivery to these promises. This experience gap is a strong indicator that something is at odds with the assessment of the own performance. This might be a consequence of wrong KPIs, wrong measurements or, in the worst case, a wrong or failed strategy. It might also simply be a matter of confusing all these terms, that I mentioned above. So, let’s start with putting some stake in the ground by doing some definition work. Brand Experience On Techtarget we can read that brand experience “is a type of experiential marketing that incorporates a holistic set of conditions created by a company to influence a feeling a customer has about a particular product or company name.“ This is a very inside-out definition,...
Zoho – A True Unicorn

Zoho – A True Unicorn

End of January Zoho held its 2020 Zoho Days, an analyst summit, which I was happy to attend, along with more than 60 colleagues, as the only analyst from Germany, as it seems. Sadly, it took me quite a while to complete this – Zoho deserves a faster commentare. But hey, let’s look forward and get rolling. Zoho is a privately owned enterprise software company that has quietly evolved from a small software company in 1996 to an ambitious global player that serves the SMB- and enterprise CRM market with cloud applications. The company has a set of 45+ business apps with more than 50 million users, 10 data centres and counting, and is available in 180 countries. The company is profitable and maintained a CAGR of more than 30 percent over the past five years. But why quietly? Because Zoho managed its growth pretty unusually (almost) fully organically with only very minor acquisitions. Crunchbase lists one. Following this unique approach, which defies the traditional law of going big fast, the company managed to build a solid platform with a unified data model that allows it to crank out amazing software at an incredible speed, and with a track record of growth that is well in the double digits. Zoho offers a suite of business, collaboration, and productivity applications, supported by development environments, services and infrastructure. Besides CRM, the applications cover a good part of the value chain, including some ERP type of applications, like order management, warehouse management, or billing and project management, HR and accounting. These apps are built upon a services oriented soft- and hardware stack...
Customer Experience on Cruise Ships – It doesn’t always need AI to deliver

Customer Experience on Cruise Ships – It doesn’t always need AI to deliver

It is this time of the year. Both, my wife Nicole and I put in long hours throughout last year, and yes, the pre-Christmas-time was not exactly a vacation, too … So, we were looking forward to some downtime and a family cruise with the line that prides itself as being “the home of the smile”. But, hey, if you are in the customer experience business – you never really have full downtime. At the end of the day it is also impossible to not reflect your own experience. Hence, we also could not avoid to realise how simple things can turn something amazing into something mediocre – or even plain disappointing. The cruise industry is a highly competitive industry, too, with more and more customers having more and more choice. Cruise Market Watch predicts more than 27.6 million cruise customers in 2020. Ships are getting bigger and more comfortable – and the fleets are growing, too, with 25 more cruise ships being expected to enter service in 2020. At the same time, customer expectations are rising fast. And this does not only apply to the digital world, but also to the physical one. And a cruise is all about the customers’ experience, and nothing else. This is what they are selling with slogans like ‘premium all-inclusive’ (TUI Cruises). “After all, the best holiday feeling is: not being in the need to think of anything, but to be able to. Not needing to pay for it, but being able to try anything. Not needing to relinquish anything but being able to enjoy everything.” (original in German, translation by me)...