Hi Gart, tell us about yourself and how you got to the Customer Experience space?
I’m a business process management and customer experience author, instructor, and consultant. Since 2003 I live the daily challenge of building and delivering improved organizational processes. In 2007, I’ve had a first glance at how every relevant process improvement could and should consider the customer perspective and its impact at the emotional level. This understanding definitively changed my process improvement approach. Since then, I cannot think of changing a process without taking great care of the real outcome for the customers and its value perception from an outside-in perspective.
At first, this might seem a little obvious when we read it out loud, but the truth of the matter is, this behavior is not so common when we are working in the depths of those many isolated organizational silos.
So, after that first real outside-in perspective project experience, I’ve decided to learn much more about customer relationships, journey mapping, behavior economics, neuroscience, and many other disciplines, methods, and strategies that have a transformative potential on management and business innovation.
Finally, in 2020 I’ve finished the writing and released my 6th and newest book, The Customer Journey. This book is the result of more than a decade of theoretical evolution and practical learning within this amazing and constantly evolving universe of Customer Experience. Hence, as a BPM expert, I’ve connected so many fundamental dots between these complementary approaches, including a new method with some visual aid to clarify all the interconnections we must address when a business decides to deliver better experiences to its customers and needs to make sure all the involved processes are ready to delivery the promised experience in each and every channel and touchpoint.
Online commerce was booming in 2020; how did it affect brands’ digital transformation strategy? – What should be the main focus for brands this year?
2020 promoted a dramatic overturn in many businesses around the world. Some are thriving, but many others didn’t get it until now. We all heard a lot about digital transformation, but very few seem to really get it.
Digital transformation is much more than just turn products and services into a sort of online “digital twin”.
The biggest challenge is not to transfer analogical things to the digital world, actually, this is the easiest part. The real challenge is to constantly understand our customer’s needs, and thus, deliver real value. This was the challenge before and this still the challenge for now.
When we think about digital transformation, it is natural to instantly imagine some kind of online service or any other remote interaction. But, if we dive a little deeper, we’ll discover that the riddle has its answers in the human heart and mind. After all, as many CX experts constantly remind us all: the customer experience is the most important process for every business. When, from the customer’s perspective, we understand the “jobs to be done”, everything else gets clearer, including new solutions, better journeys, desired services, and better products.
So if I could give any business leader a single piece of advice, I would undoubtedly say: we need to continually learn and update our understanding about what really matters to our customers. This is key to any business strategy, including digital transformation.
Gart’s checklist for CX strategy
In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good customer experience strategy?
In a nutshell, and without being overly simplistic, I believe every good CX strategy should address at least these fundamental questions:
• Who is the customer?
• What are the jobs the customer is trying to do?
• From the customer’s point of view, what can be considered a success?
• Our solutions are customer-centric designed?
• Have we validated all the changes we’ll have to take care of for the solution to be successful?
• How we interact with our customers during their journey?
• All the channels and touchpoints are operationally connected to capable business processes?
These are questions we all should consider when trying to design a good CX checklist. Obviously, to answer it we’ll need to take a lot of actions, and many of these actions, probably, will find a not-so-ready organizational scenery when considering the available professional competencies and behaviors. And this should be understood as a growth opportunity for the organization.
How much has the role of the CEO changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
Aside from many other daily responsibilities, the pre-pandemic CEO used to see, and personally interact with the organizational-chart. Since 2020, the organizational-chart has been geographically scattered and dematerialized.
Not only CEOs but entrepreneurs and business leaders are facing similar challenges. As obvious as it seems, from time to time, we should remind ourselves, that no one alive today has previous business management experience in a pandemic scenario. This is new to all of us.
So, with that in mind, we need to allow and foster more collaborative e co-creative initiatives involving the organizational workforce and, as an important evolutionary step, make good and responsible use of the distributed knowledge and data available everywhere.
A good information management strategy is paramount to every business journey towards a prosperous digital transformation.
We will get back to the brick-and-mortar office, somehow, not everybody, but certainly, not for the same old reasons before 2020.
Micromanagement days are gone for good. At least, in my humble opinion, they should.
In a corny but powerful mathematical analogy, leadership should be seriously thinking about: how to sum competencies, subtract restrictions, divide responsibilities, and multiply successful outcomes.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
This is, maybe, the most difficult question for me and for millions of others right now. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ll get to a single biggest lesson. We all must learn every day. Hence, many new lessons are created from this awareness state of mind. But, in terms of business and how to thrive during the pandemic state of mind, I would say that my biggest lesson came from within and as a consequence of a constant and intentional effort to stay focused on what matters.
As an entrepreneur, 2020 was the most challenging time I can recall, and we have faced other market crises before.
If we have lived this pandemic situation without the digital resources we have today, not only businesses would have a massive loss, but also our society would have suffered a much bigger impact.
Therefore, an important lesson is, from the business standpoint, as worse as it seems to be, it is still much better than if we were in the society of 20 years ago.
We can’t control what is about to happen, but if we are aware about the constant changes and keeping our mind clear enough to see what is happening, we can always think different and quickly adapt.
So, the most challenging step it to stay aware without feeling overwhelmed. A leader needs to be someone capable of consciously make decisions. Clarity of mind means clarity of business decisions.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events, what was your favorite one?
Before the current extreme trivialization of online events, we used to had a lot of great content and knowledge being shared around the world. But, like many other mainstream movements, and considering the global tiresome feeling, it is almost predictable to find people drowning in a river of infoxication (intoxication from the excess of information) just trying to feel some kind of connection and to not feel stuck. It is very common to find this social behavior and is also natural to expect and foresee a gradual refinement of evolution. So, I think we’ll have great changes ahead and for the best.
I’ve watched a few remarkable webinars from known experts and gladly discovered a lot of new interesting people with a lot of good content.
In my humble opinion, we literally have a world of information available nowadays, and this can be a poison or medicine, depending on how you deal with it. So, it might be interesting we find some curation/trusteeship services helping us to find and consume more interesting and less noise material in the near future.
Let’s keep our eyes, ears, heart, and mind open to these possible new business models aiming to help us to better use all the infinity wisdom already available.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future, how should CX Executives gear up to the changing times?
It’s is paramount to any modern leader to understand and adapt to this new reality. Even though we have some readjustment in this working from home scenario, we’ll also have to prepare our managerial methods to address it in a more plausible way.
We see almost every day the upcoming of new services and technologies aiming in this direction and trying to answer a not-so-simple question: how to assure relevant and effortless business guidance, without micromanagement bias and/or the need for constant online presence (already known as Zoom fatigue).
We live in such a wonderful time that we can answer some management questions with non-traditional management elements, such as:
Alignment enables autonomy, the community is bigger than structure, trust is more effective than control, health culture heals broken processes and many others. This can be perceived as exciting and scary, but either way, it is undoubtedly necessary.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
We frequently use Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and a few others. It all depends on what we need to measure and why. Once we have these two initial considerations addressed, it is time to adjust the metric to the customer experience reality.
If we don’t have a high-resolution picture of the customer profile (avatars/personas), it’s very unproductive and frustrating trying to measure an emotive response from a larger marketing segment. Experiences happen at an individual level. We cannot accurately measure experiences considering only demographical data. We need to tackle the challenge of getting into behavioral and psychographic segmentation.
So, before choosing any customer experience metric, one should seek more understanding about for whom the company works, why they need us and how our products and services are helping them. After that, we need to map and understand how this emotional journey occurs and is registered. This is the real customer experience: the sum of all the relevant emotional records throughout the journey, for a period of time, and filled with interactions between the person and the organization. Considering Value Creation, every organizational interaction with the customer must be understood as an opportunity of delight and build, or regret and deconstruction.