By Jason Moccia, CEO at One Spring and Tech Alpharetta Board Member

Customers aren’t just buying products and services – they’re buying experiences. This is why Customer Experience (CX) is so important, especially in the world of technology. A lot of people perceive CX as a blanket buzzword, however, it’s much more than that. I’ve worked with more than 100 different clients over the years, including Fortune 500 and government agencies, and want to share my experiences from a consultant’s perspective.

Companies are taking note and are beginning to shift from an inward-facing approach to outward human-centered design (HCD) approach. Traditionally, organizations have developed systems and pushed them out to the market without taking customers’ impressions and expectations into account. Now, companies are looking to be much more user-focused, putting them at the center of a problem and working toward finding the solution. So, how can tech startups ensure consumers are having the best experience possible? There’s a design process that takes place from upfront CX analysis through tactical implementation, which is important to understand because it helps establish different ways of looking at customer experiences and their priorities. For example, Journey Mapping is something we use to help clients understand the emotional state of a consumer as they navigate through their interactions with an organization. It’s all about getting to the strategic side of the emotional journey so strategies can be devised to better serve customers.

Adopting CX might seem like a no-brainer for businesses, but one issue I’ve seen is that some executives haven’t fully bought into the concept. Companies will often hire figureheads to promote the importance of CX internally without giving them the ability to take action. In order to truly transform an organization, you must have leadership buy-in from the start and a clear vision for where you want to go. Secondly, you need cultural buy-in, as it’s all about changing the organization in a way that everybody becomes consumer-focused. For a large corporation, it’s challenging to completely overhaul an organization’s culture. In the end, you have to treat it as a serious business strategy, and not limit it as talking points.

CX initiatives must take into account multiple “Listening Posts,” which are the user/customer data channels within a company.  For example, as CX evolves, social media has become an important listening post. It can be a useful tool for companies to connect with customers in a more personal way. However, it can also be a slippery slope. If a company makes one wrong move its brand can take a massive hit. Understanding what customers are saying and market perceptions are vital. This is where a properly implemented CX strategy can come in vary handy.

One of the biggest trends in CX is automation. Tools like chat bots, integrated voice, and AI are being implemented at an increasing rate. However, there’s a bit of mistrust when it comes to automation and AI. Even though most people know they’re not talking to a person, if not carefully executed, it can come across as cold and impersonal, which detracts from the experience.  Companies have to be careful to not take the human, emotional side out of it, especially when a customer is reaching out with an issue.

Overall, automation and AI are trends that will continue to grow in CX. While we’re still in the early stages, these technologies are here to stay and are part of the CX landscape.

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