The Six Disruptors of Customer Experience

by Ron Kaufman
The Six Disruptors of Customer Experience

UP! Your Service is a global education and consulting company. We help leaders and companies all over the world achieve two primary outcomes:

First, improve your customer’s experience – to help you attract more customers, keep customers, generate solid business results, and maintain a positive reputation for service.
Second, build a strong and sustainable culture that provides a great place to work, for everyone who works in or with your organization.

Today, these outcomes are becoming more difficult and more important to achieve because of six trends, six big changes that are disrupting the expectations of customers and the delivery of great customer experiences.

These Six Disruptors are not coming in a nice sequence that you can surf one at a time. Nor are they coming in a neat order that you can plan to address one by one. These disruptors are colliding and crashing into the world simultaneously, and affecting everyone: companies, consumers, industries, countries, and individual service providers.

The Six Disruptors of Customer Experience are: Commoditization, Digital Transformation, Changing Business Models, Complex Service Ecosystems, Changing Customer Expectations, and Changing Workforce Expectations.

What are our definitions of service and of service excellence? We define service as taking action to create value for someone else; this could be a customer or a colleague. We define service excellence as taking the next step UP to create more value for someone else.

These definitions are important, because implementing them provides a clear path through the Six Disruptions to achieve customer success, cultural success, and personal success.

The first disruption is commoditization.

This means that very similar products and services are available from companies other than you. Competition, globalization, and widely available delivery systems makes a differentiated customer experience more difficult to achieve, and more necessary for you to stand out.

Your ability to continuously step up, stand out, and add more value is essential if you are going to earn higher margins from premium pricing and from repeat business.
Consider the situation in retail: not only is your competitor right next door, but online shopping makes being better even more important. The same is true for business to business, where your innovations in equipment, supplies, or standards will be noticed and can be quickly copied by your competitors.

So what is needed?

In response to Commoditization, a great customer experience is more important, your service reputation is more important, and the value of your brand is more important. You cannot be satisfied with just doing what you did the last time or doing what everyone else can do. You must always be looking for new ideas and new actions, to create more, different, and better value.

The second disruptor of customer experience is digital transformation.

This is the enormous shift that all of us are experiencing from analogue products to digital products with rising customer expectations for convenience, quality, and speed. The dramatic change from manual services that have been delivered face-to-face and will now be delivered with automated, autonomous, and artificial-intelligence-enabled platforms, applications, and devices.

Consider the financial services industry, where we are experiencing a complete transformation from physical cash to convenient credit cards and debit cards, to integrated, seamless, and personalized services on our mobile phones, and now to new ways of completing financial transactions with biometrics and blockchains.

In this environment of rising technology and digital transformation, some claim the human factor in service is less important. However, the opposite is actually true, because it is people who create, program, and maintain technology.

It’s people who design interfaces and shape the customer experience. It’s people who encourage, explain, and assist other people to adopt new technologies. And it’s people who respond to help and recover whenever problems occur.

Digital transformation is not to be feared or avoided; it must be embraced. Bottom line, use digital transformation and make it work better to serve your customers, improve your company, and grow in your career.

The third disruptor of customer experience is changing business models.

New ways to serve customers and create value are being imagined, invented, and implemented all over the world. You may be the disruptor, breaking in with a new business offer. Or you may be the disrupted with your legacy systems, and all your existing standards and procedures.

In this world of changing business models, winners will be agile organizations that can quickly create more value for customers. Consider the sharing economy which is disrupting taxis, hotels, office space and bicycles. What is needed to succeed in the face of this disruption is an unrelenting focus on customer experience, and not a rigid attachment to following procedures, ensuring compliance, and achieving KPIs.

Procedures, compliance and KPIs are important, but what is MORE important is finding ways to simplify procedures, ensuring compliance and convenience, and making sure your KPIs are tied to what your customers really want to achieve.

The fourth disruption is complex service ecosystems.

What does that mean? Multiple partners, across multiple channels, all working together to provide service value to the same shared customer.

Consider the telecommunications industry. You go online to compare new phone devices, go to a store to purchase a phone and then activate a plan from a one of the phone network companies. Then you use an app on the phone to customize how your data is consumed. If you have a question you visit the website for product information, or you use the support forum, or you ask a question in the chat box. And if you still need help, you reach out to the contact center and talk to a hopefully helpful human.

Now how many different companies, channels, and partners are involved here?
In complex eco-systems, successful service providers keep everyone focused on the one outcome that matters most: creating a great experience and great value for the customer.

Service partners collaborate to make work for the real customer. And who is that? The person who can take their business somewhere else. That means overcoming silos, crossing boundaries and building a culture of Service Excellence inside and between organizations.

The fifth disruptor is changing customer expectations.

You have, we all have, customers with new values, different values, and changing values. Consider the hospitality industry, where hotels first offered clean and fairly priced rooms, then rose to meet the expectations of more efficiency with easier check-in and faster internet connections. Now the industry is stepping up again to deliver social rituals, personal transformations, expert workshops, unexpected adventures, and other unique cultural retreats.

Standing still in a world of changing customer expectations is a recipe for defeat and decline.
You must build a culture of Service Excellence with leaders and team members who come to work asking “What can I learn today?”, “Who can I learn more about?”, “What new ideas can we create to serve our customers better?”, and then, “What new actions can we take to create more and better value?”

The sixth disruptor of customer experience is changing workforce expectations.

In a world of generation XYZ, with a booming freelance economy and fast-moving portfolio careers, your company culture must attract the best talent. Just exchanging their time for your money won’t pay off with the younger generation. What will work is building a culture where everyone understands the meaning of service excellence and has the tools they need to deliver.

How does it work? How can you make it work?

First, use the Service Culture Indicator to get your Leadership Team aligned on the importance of improving service, on your top priorities for improvement, and in their commitment to building a culture of Service Excellence.

Next, organize Service Excellence workshops to teach everyone what Service Excellence means, and give them the tools they need to improve internal service and external service. Lastly, build a sustainable culture of continuous service improvement with an approach that is proven and really works.

The importance of responding to the Six Disruptors, and building a culture of service excellence, has gone up dramatically because of one more enormous and disrupting trend: social media. We have always been social creatures, and we always will be. But our ability today to share our views, our dreams, our delights, and our complaints is more immediate and transparent than ever before. Everything you do right, and everything you do wrong, will be recognized and remembered.

During my session at Drive, I will provide insight into each of these “Six Disruptors”, and will point you toward the culture you must build to achieve success with your customers, your company, and your career.

Don’t miss out — join us at DRIVE and discover the strategies your credit union needs to gain a real competitive edge.

About the Author

Ron Kaufman
Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for uplifting customer service and building service cultures. He is author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller, “Uplifting Service! The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues and Everyone Else You Meet” and 14 other books on service, business and inspiration. Ron is also the founder of UP! Your Service, a company that enables leaders and organizations to build Uplifting Service cultures for sustainable advantage. Ron’s experience and passionate commitment to results have been distilled into proven methods to help clients upgrade service performance and build strong service cultures. His unique approaches to learning and leadership have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.