Last updated: Modern CX: Customer experience comes of age

Modern CX: Customer experience comes of age


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In the early 1990s, Tom Siebel started a company that gave birth to what later became CRM. This is critical because the name of the technology and the purpose were extreme antagonistic, at least by today’s standards. You see, despite the name, CRM was never about the customer, but about how the company managed the customers.

The systems and data models yielded nothing the customer wanted, but everything the company needed: repeatable cycles that can be controlled (managed).

Modern CX is very different.

CRM evolution and modern CX

Before I explain what modern CX is, let’s look more closely at the evolution of CRM.

Because Siebel came from the B2B world, the solution his company introduced was aimed at that world: how to relate businesses to businesses. Sales functions were about pipelines and managing salespeople who entered data about companies (not necessarily people – more focused on titles and positions).

Service was about opening tickets to complex problems that required multiple events and long time to solve. Marketing was about finding the correlation between a set message and tone and who could be persuaded to accept that message.

The company was trying to control how the customer interacted with them while pretending to care about the customer.

In the early 2000s, we already had inklings that the internet (and commerce, after we removed the “e”) was going places. Vendors were never afraid to pivot, and thus the concept of B2C (business-to-consumer) was born – and with them, of course, new “tools.”

The pendulum swings

These new tools proved slightly better at managing commerce-centered interactions at scale, and simple repeatable processes that weren’t tied to customer lifecycles – but not nearly as good as necessary.

And then, social media and smart phones became ubiquitous.

Talk about throwing a wrench into the whole thing. Now, you can see something on TV that you like, pull up the company website on a smart phone, buy the product, have it packaged and shipped, and never leave your couch. There were no more campaigns, no more tracking marketing profiles in monthly reports, no more “service will be done via our call center from 9 to 5 only.”

The world changed, dramatically. The pendulum swung to the other end (nee customer centricity), and we were (as almost always) caught unprepared.

Customers, now more connected and better equipped, were in a position to demand experiences. This set the stage for talking about experiences instead of relationships: give the customer power within the interactions, make them bilateral instead of single-sided, and focus on the needs of both.

We moved from one-sided relationships to two-sided interactions and we brought sentiments and feelings to the whole thing. We made it about interactions instead of engagement – of which the most important lesson was: experiences are not managed or designed by the company, they are what customers undergo (experience) when proper interactions happen.

What is modern CX?

And that brings us to what modern CX is about:

  1. Having a different model than we used to have for CRM (still valid for B2B situations), and customer-centricity (legacy tools, like contact management databases and campaign management tools, were outdated when CRM came out); a model based on two-sided interactions with co-created value for both parties that’s dynamic and flexible and based on real-time needs
  2. Omni-presence (not omnichannel) and personalized in real time. It’s about how a commerce platform leads interactions with help from functions previously done under the disguise of marketing or service
  3. Acknowledging that a customer-360 view is naive, and that data was made to be used in real time to optimize processes and profiles, not to be stored forever in case we can use it sometime
  4. Infrastructure that a company implements and the customer leverages to accomplish what the customer expects while delivering value back to the company
  5. A new way to look at an old problem; use the proper technology, processes, people, governance, and metrics to define it and manage it.

Modern-day CX is an evolution in the market that requires a new business model to support it – one where experiences and financial goals are met, equally and balanced, against customer expectations and company outcomes.

When you can do that, you have the framework to transform your initiative into a modern-day version of CX.

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