Stone Throwing Customer Experience Strategy

You and I were given the task of initiating the Customer Experience strategy for our company.

Quite challenging!

Is it about customer service? Is it about buying a technology platform to collect customer feedback? Or is it about changing our business processes?

I will invite you for a cup of coffee and a walk by the lake side so we can clear our brains and think of some innovative solutions. Maybe we can throw some stones in the lake and observe what happens.

Let’s assume a couple of stone throwing scenarios.

  1. The first is Stone Skipping, which is the technique of throwing the stone in a flattened way across the lake so that it bounces off the surface of the water.
  2. The second is Stone Dropping, which is simply picking the stone and dropping it in the water right in front of us.

Those two scenarios could be a good example of how to initiate our customer experience strategy. The water is our market – including our current customers in the near-field and our potential customers in the far-field; the stone is our customer experience strategy – its size represents how holistic is the strategy, and the act of throwing the stone is our execution plan.

In the stone skipping scenario, we need to give our stone a high momentum to travel faster and farther away. It bounces off the surface of the water: one, two, three times, it causes some ripple at each bounce and then it sinks far away and we lose sight of it. Pick a bigger stone, and we need more effort to make it travel the same distance. Yet, the impact will remain the same – bouncing off the surface. And, by the way, it might change direction sometimes.

The stone dropping scenario is much simpler. Pick a stone, let it fall freely in the water in front of us and watch the ripple effect. A little bit more effort, pick a bigger stone and let it fall freely in the same place. A bigger ripple effect! Both stones went deep in the water, right in front of us.

Now let’s get back to our Customer Experience strategy:

  • How can we relate the Customer Experience strategy to stone throwing scenarios?
  • What do the scenarios tell us about the initiation of our customer experience strategy?
  • Should our CX strategy follow a stone dropping or a stone skipping behavior?

In one of his recent articles, “Defining the Customer Experience”, Don Peppers defines Customer Experience as: “The totality of a customer’s individual interactions with a brand, over time.”

In order to manage the customer experience as defined, we need to build a strategy that is holistic, or in other words, a strategy that considers every single issue that impacts the customer. Needless to say, it needs to be “Outside-In”, i.e. looking at the business from the customer perspective. It also needs to consider the relationship with the customer on the long term, and not base the relationship on short term interactions or consequences. Relationships also need to be deep as surface level relationships cannot be sustained. We also need to keep an eye on our customers and observe their behavior to better address their needs and expectations.

OK, now remember, the water is our market – including our current customers in the near-field and our potential customers in the far-field; the stone is our customer experience strategy – its size represents how holistic is the strategy, and the act of throwing the stone is our execution plan.

Can I throw the stone first? You know what, I think we should Drop the stone!

  • I will drop the stone to make the strategy holistic: in order to make our strategy holistic, we need to pick a bigger stone. This stone cannot travel away and hence we need to drop it in front of us, targeting our current customers and watching the ripple effect growing; organically. The ripple effect is the word of mouth that grows to target more and more customers. Holistic strategy is not needed to target new customers though. If so, a lot of effort needs to be put in place, yet it will only cause small splashes and minimal ripple effect.
  • I will drop the stone and think long term: in a previous post, “Building Human Relationships and Driving Customer Value”, I explained my point of view about the importance of considering the long term value of the customer rather than immediate returns. The bottom line is that customers are humans, and it is very important to respect them, be transparent with them and offer them a valuable experience in order to cause a ripple effect that will last longer and gets spread to more and more customers.
  • I will drop the stone and let it go deep: again, pick a bigger stone. A holistic strategy tackles more interactions with the customer. It also reduces the silos hindering our organization. Both will give us more knowledge about our customers and help us empathize with them and hence personalize the experience for them. Personalization and empathy will deliver a deeper relationship.
  • I will drop the stone and will not lose sight: dropping a big stone will help focusing on the current customers. It will not travel away, so we are always able to see where it resides and how it’s behaving. The near-field ripples can also be observed; on the other hand we are not able to track far-away ones.

I have chosen to launch a holistic strategy that tackles my current customers, develop a long term and deep relationship with them, as well as keeping an eye on them in order to make sure they are happy and not going to run away. I have decided to Drop the stone.

What about you? Will you be stone dropping or stone skipping your customer experience strategy?

Por Mohamad El-Hinnawi, Customer Experience Professional | Speaker | Lecturer