Have you heard the story of the six blind men and the elephant?
The basic story goes like this: a group of blind men encounter an elephant when they are out for a walk. They each touch the elephant to learn what it is. However, each man touches only one single part, and no other, such as a tusk, the tail, or the trunk.
Afterwards, they compare notes and realize they are in complete disagreement over what it was they were touching.
Only by combining their perspectives can the blind men accurately describe an elephant.
We usually begin any discussion regarding customer experience with this story. Imagine the six blind men as different departments in a company (sales, marketing, operations, HR, etc.) and the elephant as the customer. It is very likely that each department defines both what a customer is and how they interact with them differently.
It is even more likely that they are unaware of each other’s definitions. Most businesses just assume there is a shared understanding of what a customer is, no matter which department.
Unfortunately, this shared understanding is extremely rare. As the story of the elephant illustrates, businesses must combine all these perspectives to understand, and then shape, the experience of their customers.
Great customer experiences start with great customer experience design. Done properly, customer experience can become a key differentiator and provide distinct competitive advantage.
Unfortunately for us customers, this strategy is more often well said than well done.
Customer experience is a process, not a department. It is the collaborative result of engaging employees, understanding customers, designing a plan, delivering great service, and empowering employees to continuously discover opportunities focused on delighting who matters most – your customers.
Over the next few months in this column, we will dive into the concept of customer experience, analyzing why most businesses are designed to fail, how marketing agencies contribute to the problem, describe the five dimensions of customer experience, and why seeing things from the customer’s perspective is always good business.