Aug 12 2013

Book Short: Is CX the new UX?

Book Short:  Is CX the new UX?

Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine from Forrester Research, was a good read that kept crossing back and forth between good on the subject at hand, and good business advice in general.  The Customer Experience (CX) movement is gaining more and more steam these days, especially in B2B companies like Return Path.  The authors define Customer Experience as “how your customers perceive their interactions with your company,” and who doesn’t care about that?

A few years ago, people started talking a lot more about User Experience (UX) as a new crossover discipline between design and engineering, and our experience at Return Path has been that UX is an incredibly powerful tool in our arsenal to build great technical products via lean/agile methods.  The recurring thought I had reading this book, especially for companies like ours, was “Is CX the new UX?”

In other words, should we just be taking the same kind of lean/agile approach to CX that we do with technical product development and UX — but basically do it more holistically across every customer touchpoint, from marketing to invoice?  It’s hard to see the answer being “no” to that question, although as with all things, the devil is in the implementation details.  And that’s true at the high level (the authors talk about making sure you align CX strategy with corporate strategy and brand attributes and values) as well as a more granular level (what metrics get tracked for CX, and how do those align with the rest of the companies KPIs).

The book’s framework for CX is six high-level disciplines: strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture — but you really have to read the book to get at the specifics.

Some other thoughts and quotes from the book:

  • the book contains some good advice on how to handle management of cross-functional project teams in general (which is always difficult), including a good discussion of various governance models
  • “to achieve the full potential of customer experience as a business strategy, you have to change the way you run your business. You must manage from the perspective of your customers, and you must do it in a systematic, repeatable, and disciplined way.”
  • one suggestion the book had for weaving the customer experience into your culture (if it’s not there already) is to invite customers to speak all-hands meetings
  • another suggestion the book had for weaving the customer experience into everyone’s objectives was one company’s tactic of linking compensation (in this case, 401k match) to customer experience metrics
  • “Customer Experience is a journey, not a project. It has a beginning but it doesn’t have an end.”

Thanks to my colleague Jeremy Goldsmith for recommending this book.