Customer Experience - It's all about the perspective

I’m often asked: isn’t the customer perspective just another term á la Customer Experience, Customer Journey or Customer Life Cycle? Well, customers will tell their suppliers there is a a fundamental difference!

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 08:06

I’m often asked: isn’t the customer perspective just another term á la Customer Experience, Customer Journey or Customer Life Cycle? Well, customers will tell their suppliers there is a a fundamental difference!

First, the one that stands out as a total outlier is the Customer Life Cycle – from a customer’s perspective, the term is absurd. In a traditionally labeled Customer Life Cycle, it’s the product or service that may “receive life” – or be left to die – by the customer, not the other way around as implied by name. So let’s start calling this extremely important process what it really is: a product life cycle.

With Customer Experience it’s different. First coined by my old colleagues Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Customer Experience means: the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier.

Bruce Tempkin, who is without a doubt the biggest promoter of Customer Experience (or CX), makes it even simpler by saying  : The perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization. Customer Experience has since evolved into a variety of methodologies that can be used to identify and align processes, people, information and technology within an organization to make sure that – when the customers know us – they’re having a measurably good experience with our organization, all balanced with our internal requirements and resource restrictions.  

Customer Journey is effectively the same thing, but emphasizing the “journey” aspect does portray that there’s a series of actions and interactions along a path that a customer has chosen to follow.  

What the customer perspective does so differently is to change the viewpoint. Both Customer Experience and Customer Journey traditionally look at how the organization can interact better with its customers - through the exes of the organization. The customer perspective demands that we start seeing things through the eyes of the individuals making a decision. It’s an understanding that they’ll choose to interact with not only us (we hope) but also with other individuals and organizations as they step through their own decision cycle via their chosen touchpoints.

The customer perspective is how one should start on a customer experience excersize. Once you get a good definition for the decision cycle and milestones of your customers along with their preferred touchpoints, then you can use all the great methodologies outlined in Customer Experience/Customer Journey to define and map, align and prioritize the internal actions you wish to undertake.

The joy of taking the customer perspective is that most organizations – with a good cross section of colleagues that “touch” the customer – can define and start using that new perspective in less than two days. And as I explain in Chapter 13 of my book, you don’t need a consultant or external organization to get started.   So why not take the customer perspective?