The Experience Revolution!

A number of key events in time have shaped history, and more specifically defined how we do business.   For example the advent of money changed the way how business was done.  Much later the industrial revolution again brought about many changes and brought prosperity to the ‘industrialized’ world.  After WWII the Quality Revolution allowed companies in Japan and Germany to prosper.  Not too long ago, the IT revolution has again changed the way business is done.  Companies like Amazon, Apple, EBay, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have achieved success in very short periods of time, which was unimaginable in the past.  Each new ‘revolution’ has allowed business to achieve greater success, earn more profits, grab bigger market shares, than was possible in the previous era.

With the economy in not too great of a condition companies are looking to find ways of surviving.  Moreover competition from the developing economies is making doing business difficult.  A popular question that I often discuss with my MBA students is how to tackle the challenges posed by developing economies like the BRIC or the N11 nations?  Keeping all of these factors in mind, I believe that the time is rife for a new revolution - an Experience Revolution.

Companies that have adopted Customer Experience Management philosophies, and are implementing it in an appropriate manner are already beginning to prosper.  Some of the best practice examples include companies like Apple, BMW, Disney, Harley Davidson, Ikea, Microsoft, Singapore Airlines, and Zara.  Despite the tough economic conditions these companies are outperforming their competitors.  However, as I work with numerous companies from all across the globe I find that apparently only the larger firms have started to adopt a CEM focus.  The 70 odd per cent of the economy, which is made up of small and medium firms have failed to look at CEM.  Overall this is having a negative impact on our economies.

The two major threats to businesses in the west are posed by the current global financial climate, as well as the threat posed by the low cost competitors from the developing countries.  Both of these problems are somewhat interlinked.  Companies try to survive through the troubled economic times by reducing their costs.  In terms of competing against the developing countries, we simply cannot compete on price.  The low wages, economies of scale, coupled with the availability of cheap raw materials makes it impossible for companies to try to compete on the basis of costs.  Customer Experience Management offers us that extra something which is hard to replicate, and hence will give our companies a competitive edge.

My blog, and my talks at various conferences have focused on CEM implementation by a firm.  However, as I see the number of participants and the number of CEM focused conferences increase, I want to focus on the economy as a whole.  Hence, I think we need not just a handful of companies to adopt CEM, but bring about a revolution where a huge percentage of the companies start to adopt this.

A CEM revolution, however, cannot be brought about without the help of the Government at all levels (State and Federal in the US and Individual country and EU in Europe).  The government needs to promote CEM to the masses.  While I’m not an expert on Public Policy, I would suggest the following steps.

First, the governments need to offer tax incentives for companies that spend money on implementing CEM policies.  This will encourage a larger number of companies to shirt towards CEM.  Moreover, this will also encourage, cash strapped, SMEs to adopt a CEM.

An official Government encouragement will also help the academia (which is usually very slow to react to changes in the business world) to focus on this sector.  It will encourage them to do more research, and consequently offer better training to companies.

Governments can also step in and either create or support CEM awards.  The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) in the US has had a positive effect in encouraging businesses adopt Quality policies.  As a member of the Judging panel on the UK Customer Experience Awards, I’ve seen the number of companies apply grow over the years.  Moreover, the quality of the submissions seems to be improving, which shows that companies are adopting CEM.  However, a government backing will not only enhance the reputation of such awards, but will see a much larger number of companies adopting CEM principles.

Similarly, other measures need to be looked at by the Governments to encourage businesses to adopt CEM policies.  This needs to be done to ensure that we bring about a CEM revolution on a large scale, a scale large enough to have a positive impact on our economies.

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