In a CX Minute: Thoughts on CX, July 22, 2021

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In the movie That Thing You Do (great movie, BTW), right before they start playing for the first of many tour events that subsequently led the OneDers to fame (and a change of name) Lenny (the bass player) turns towards Guy (drummer) and asks, “How did we get here?” in awe… to which Guy replies, “I led you here sir, for I am Spartacus”… that’s where we are right now, fifteen episodes in: about to break into fame and glory, and I brought you here.

Back to neuronormative brain operations.

🎼They took the credit for your second symphony
Rewritten by machine and new technology 🎼: AI, data, and the trillions of connections in our brains

I read this paper by Melanie Mitchell of the Santa Fe Institute this week, thanks for Neil Raden for pointing it out in LinkedIn – and do follow him if you are not, one of the most remarkable AI ethicists out there, with great content to share – on why doing AI is so hard. I know, I know – you’re going to say it’s not, so let’s go with the data:

Even though 75+% of organizations are doing “AI,” less than 32% of their customers think there’s value in what they do, and even less than 14% of organizations see the value returned for what they are doing, etc.

But we’re not going to do that, because you’ll believe me when I tell you that what we are doing it – not AI – rather a very small subset of it that lies between advanced analytics and early-stage machine learning.

In the paper the author says, “The idea that intelligence is something that can be separated from the body, whether as a non-physical substance or as wholly encapsulated in the brain, has a long history in philosophy and cognitive science.”

And it is dissociating of intelligence for the body that we rely on to do what we call AI (it is not).

We think we can get our computers to mimic functions performed by our brains (let’s not deep dive into the speed of processing differences between computers and the brain, where the brain wins by miles, and instead focus on the actions) when we are not even close.

Further in the same paper, the author quotes deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton when he writes “To understand [documents] at a human level, we’re probably going to need human-level resources and we have trillions of connections [in our brains]. …But the biggest networks we have built so far only have billions of connections. So, we’re a few orders of magnitude off, but I’m sure the hardware people will fix that.”

Why am I bringing this up?

Because part of all our narratives about CX rely on the concept of machines automating parts of the interactions (which is totally doable with analytics, specifically predictive and prescriptive analytics) and we are relying a little too much on some black box magic that will take care of things we don’t know how to deal with or to manage. 

We have this belief that either A) some vendor will come up with a working version of AI that will automagically make all experiences awesome automatically, or B) we will hire the genius data scientist that will discover a mathematical model that will replace all our operations with automated operations.

Neither one will ever happen, so I am here to tell you – you want to improve your CX initiatives? Leave behind the lunacy of AI and focus instead on simple process optimization and automation and reap the benefits.

And if you’re going to focus on process optimization, (aka business transformation) then you should also understand that they don’t do anything without good data (neither does analytics) and focus on data optimization as well (aka digital transformation).

Feel better now, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

🎼 In my mind and in my car
We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far 🎼: Yep, back to the employee experience and CX, featuring the radio stars

Let’s change the subject a little bit – let’s talk about employee experience a little bit more.

I want to put this behind us; to understand that there is no relationship in real life between employee and customer experience – and can never be as long as the customer chooses their experience ad-hoc, and the company focuses on optimized interactions (see topic above as well).

Alas, you won’t let me – some of youz are still insisting on linking them… sigh. Fear not, I have a new weapon in my arsenal to attack this topic: Ratul Shah.

Ratul is a colleague at SAP, via the Gigya acquisition. Which means he is very smart about data, but also about culture and employee experiences. I recorded a video with him, part of the “I Don’t Know What I Am Doing, With Friends” series – also known as IDKWIADWF… rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? – where we discussed employee experiences and the potential link to interactions, experiences, and company results.

It’s a very good, short, (under 20 minutes) and entertaining video and cements the arguments (at least in my biased mind) that there is no link between employee and customer experience. Watch it.

Back to Narrative HQ ™: We’re undergoing our own transformations and clocking in tremendous progress

One of the things we are working on is defining why our customers would like to get CX solutions.

I’m not talking about functionality or technology decisions, but what are the business decisions they’re making, how we can understand them, and how we can help support them better. We are a technology company; this correlation between technology and business is critical to get right (and an essential, if not critical, part of the role an evangelist plays for any organization).

Thankfully I’m surrounded by very smart people who provide tremendous input and knowledge into these topics, and those meetings and conversations are the highlights of my week here.

The latest thing we’re focusing on, and one that I wanted to bring to your attention – in case you are undergoing similar projects (according to data, 65% or more of you are, so that was a very pointed “just in case”, almost manipulative) is what determines business growth, and how to explain it.

And there is a link to CX in this because we have collected data and research to make the correlation more customers -> more revenue -> more profits (there is a difference between this and using established customers, BTW) and we can see how CX solutions can play a role in this.

Can you? More on this in next episodes… time to wrap this up.

🎼 Closing time, open all the doors
And let you out into the world 🎼: Wrapping up with a new report

Finally, a share of a new report. The MarTech Alliance released their CX Trends and Insights Report, 2021 sometime in the last few days, and I was perusing it over lunch last couple of days as well.

Is it interesting?
Yes.

Does it reveal any secret handshake, decoded message, or reality that we did not know about? At least for me, no (download it and see for yourself).

As always, these reports are more validation for trends we see in the market than epiphanies of unknown trends.

One interesting tidbit, for me, was the validation of how poorly we are doing in meeting customer expectations. While all the data, even in this report, highlights that customer’s expectations are increasing in importance (74% of CEO’s asked said they are very high and getting higher), we are not doing a good job of understanding them – or meeting them.

I could be mean and say 31.5% of people are lying, but even if we take that to be true – and I greatly doubt it, but since there is no definition provided and it is self-reported, let’s go with it – we have a significant gap to cover.

And this is not one that I had data for before when I discussed with you the five gaps for CX to fix. So much work to do.

What do you think so far? Staying around for the rest of the ride? We’re going places, now that we are almost famous, and fortune will rain on us.

Thoughts? Ideas? Debates? Anything???? Reach out, any way you can. Talk soon.

Read all of the ‘In a CX Minute’ content HERE.

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Esteban Kolsky

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