The Fleet Customer Experience Revolution

By Jeofrey Bean

Jeofrey Bean is the co-author of the busi­ness lead­er­ship book The Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Rev­o­lu­tion – How Com­pa­nies like Apple, Ama­zon, and Star­bucks Have Changed Busi­ness For­ev­er. He is a keynote speak­er and Prin­ci­pal of Del Mar Research. Jeofrey is an expert at increas­ing the effec­tive­ness of mar­ket­ing, cus­tomer ser­vice and cus­tomer expe­ri­ence lead­er­ship deci­sions.

What is Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence? Does your com­pa­ny have a con­sis­tent and well-known answer that guides deci­sions and actions to cre­ate cus­tomer advo­cates?

In June, Sean Van Tyne and I were keynote speak­ers at the Inno­vate cus­tomer expe­ri­ence con­fer­ence in San Fran­cis­co. This gave us the chance to ask over six hun­dred peo­ple in the audi­ence “How many peo­ple at your com­pa­ny have an offi­cial cus­tomer expe­ri­ence def­i­n­i­tion? Please show your hands.” At first, no hands went up, a cou­ple sec­onds lat­er, just a few arose. How many is a few? Our glance across the room from the stage, and lat­er con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple who were in the audi­ence con­firmed few­er than 10 peo­ple raised their hand. This response was con­sis­tent with oth­er times we’ve asked groups and indi­vid­u­als the same ques­tion.

As authors of the book The Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Rev­o­lu­tion, our def­i­n­i­tion of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence came from the aggre­gate view we devel­oped after inter­view­ing many of the best cus­tomer expe­ri­ence lead­ers and doing oth­er research while writ­ing the book.

We’ve asked many peo­ple with­in the same com­pa­ny and many peo­ple from dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies to tell us what they mean by cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. We’ve learned that the chances of get­ting a con­sis­tent def­i­n­i­tion are small. Peo­ple answer based on their expe­ri­ence and what their sit­u­a­tion or role is. This is fine on an indi­vid­ual basis. But when you’re a com­pa­ny seri­ous­ly eying a cus­tomer lead­er­ship posi­tion so you can be bet­ter, dif­fer­ent and more prof­itable, you need a con­sis­tent and well-known def­i­n­i­tion of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.

The absence of a con­sis­tent answer can be prob­lem­at­ic for any deci­sions and activ­i­ties impact­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. It can lead to unfo­cused dis­cus­sions, incon­sis­tent ser­vice or prod­uct devel­op­ment and cus­tomer inter­ac­tions. For any of these sce­nar­ios to be suc­cess­ful, there has to be a clear and con­sis­tent view of what the com­pa­ny and its peo­ple mean by cus­tomer expe­ri­ence as ear­ly as pos­si­ble.

I notice a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the num­ber of peo­ple who “get it” when they know my def­i­n­i­tion of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Even if they don’t agree with it, they know where I am com­ing from. Lat­er, they may cre­ate their own def­i­n­i­tion.

Here is the def­i­n­i­tion I share ear­ly in any cus­tomer impact­ing dis­cus­sion: Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence includes all inter­ac­tions peo­ple have “with” or “about” a company’s mes­sages, peo­ple, process­es, prod­ucts or ser­vices. This is the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence con­tin­u­um.

“With” is direct­ly inter­act­ing with the com­pa­ny along the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence con­tin­u­um.

“About” is very impor­tant. It used to be main­ly read­ing reviews of prod­ucts or ser­vices or by word of mouth. With the growth of social media, the “About” part of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence becomes more impor­tant than ever. This is because one per­son can quick­ly com­mu­ni­cate to many oth­ers about the expe­ri­ences they expect to have, are hav­ing now or have had.

With­in the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is the “user expe­ri­ence.” User expe­ri­ence is a person’s direct inter­ac­tions with the prod­uct or ser­vice that they will spend or have spent the mon­ey for. The user expe­ri­ence is where cus­tomers find out if the promis­es made by the com­pa­ny from the begin­ning of the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence are true.

When does the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence start?
Most com­pa­nies believe that cus­tomer expe­ri­ence starts when there is a trans­ac­tion that makes a per­son or com­pa­ny a cus­tomer. After that, peo­ple can see how they like the cus­tomer ser­vice. Expe­ri­ence Mak­ers believe that cus­tomer expe­ri­ence starts before peo­ple are cus­tomers, con­tin­ues while they are cus­tomers and, hope­ful­ly, moves them to become ener­gized advo­cates! Most peo­ple will expe­ri­ence many of the parts in the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence direct­ly or indi­rect­ly before they inter­act with cus­tomer ser­vice. Then, if the ser­vice is the prod­uct, it’s up to the ser­vice to assure that the promis­es made are true with an extra­or­di­nary user expe­ri­ence.

Does your orga­ni­za­tion have its own def­i­n­i­tion of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence?
Is it well com­mu­ni­cat­ed so every­one at the strate­gic, tac­ti­cal and oper­a­tional lev­els can con­tribute bet­ter with out­comes that excel? If the answer is no, start hav­ing the dis­cus­sions today to move toward a con­sis­tent and well known def­i­n­i­tion of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence at the com­pa­ny. Ask peo­ple what it is. If you are already there, this can help to keep your present cus­tomer expe­ri­ence rel­e­vant and valu­able. It can prompt you to inno­vate a new one. If you are at the begin­ning, this is a great ear­ly move in your trans­for­ma­tion to a cus­tomer expe­ri­ence leader.

Let’s meet here next month. We’ll explore which com­pa­nies are like­ly set­ting your cus­tomers’ expec­ta­tions, why you need to know this and how you can lever­age it. Until next month, if you have any ques­tions or com­ments let me know @


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