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Gartner proposes new customer experience approach

Read time 2min 50sec
Ed Thompson, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
Ed Thompson, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Organisations looking to achieve superior customer experience will need to ignore three common myths.

This is according to Ed Thompson, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Cape Town this week.

The three myths Thompson refers to are: delighting the customer, innovation and correlating data.

He argued organisations that have been working for the last five or 10 years to be the best in customer experience must do the opposite of the three myths. This, he noted, might be a bit controversial and tends to irritate people.

"Organisations with superior customer experiences tend to appoint a leader; their executives are committed to the initiative and have a small dedicated team with 12 direct reports on average. They also involve a broad range of departments from marketing and sales, to supply chain, IT, R&D and HR.

"We also know that leaders in such positions are patient, build trust and honour privacy with their customers. They don't invest and hope. They clearly focus on customer emotions and not just the numbers, and have a common sense of purpose."

Thompson explained that customer experience leaders are quite powerful people and tend to report to the board and chief executives. Their roles are typically found in industries such as telcos, banking, insurance, travel and hospitality, and retail.

Usually, he added, these roles are occupied by women. "70% are's one of the few board-level positions that is predominantly female. Lots of men are now trying to get the job but all the experience is actually in the heads of women."

Instead of delighting the customer, Thompson proposes being effortless in offering a superior customer experience.

According to Gartner research, the return on investment of meeting customer expectations, and making interactions effortless, is high. "It's not that investing to delight the customer doesn't work, but its likelihood of working is lower.

"Many organisations are inconsistent in the delivery of their customer experience strategy. While they are aiming to delight in one part of the organisation, they still require effort from the customer in another part. We recommend that organisations don't delight, but rather focus on being effortless."

Thompson believes imitation rather than innovation in customer experience provides a way forward.

The distinguished analyst noted that innovation is a waste of time as it is mostly an imitation of an existing successful investment in a different geography or adjacent industry. "Too many companies are overlooking the benefits of imitation. You don't need to come up with everything yourself."

He also recommended not correlating data but rather understanding the jobs to be done.

The explosion of customer data that has become available at low cost over the last 20 years means many organisations are collecting it and sifting through it to seek correlations from which they can make investment decisions. "Organisations are better served by understanding what customers are trying to achieve rather than monitoring demographics or psychographic information," said Thompson.

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