what is modern day cx?

that’s a great question, no?

it requires some context before it can be answered… and that context involves Michel Foucalt, Tom Siebel, and Ed Thompson.

intrigued? stay with me on this one…

in the early 1990s Tom Siebel started a company that gave birth to what later became CRM. this is critical because the name of the technology and the purpose were extreme antagonistic (at least by today’s standards). you see, CRM was never about the customer (although it had that in the name) but about how the company managed the customers.

in true Druckerian fashion (you can’t manage what you cannot measure), the faux name made it seem like companies now cared about the customer, while in reality all the systems and data models and setups yielded nothing the customer wanted, everything the company needed: repeatable cycles that can be controlled (managed).

traditional, fashioned (no the drink), controlled and repeatable cycle

further, because Siebel came from the B2B (business-to-business) world, the solution his company introduced was aimed at that world: how to relate businesses to businesses. thus, sales functions were about pipelines and managing salespeople who entered data about companies (not necessarily people – more focused on titles and positions). service was about opening tickets to complex problems that required multiple events and long time to solve, and marketing was about finding the correlation between a set message and tone and who could be persuaded to accept that message.

in other words, the company was trying to control how the customer interacted with them, and pretended to care about the customer. tsk-tsk-tsk.

in their defense, and mine since i was a CRM practitioner and analyst at the time, there was no eCommerce to speak of (started in the late 1990s) and even then – access to the internet (and to those supercomputers in our pockets today) was laughable — you’ve got mail, remember?

this is where Michel Foucalt comes in. well, i used his name because of the fame associated with the understanding of how pendulums work in an ever-rotating planet, but in reality it is more about pendulums than proving the rotation of Earth.

in the early 2000s we already had inklings that the internet (and commerce, after we removed the “e”) was going places. more and more people and companies went online and more transactions where happening between consumers and single-person customers than between businesses.

vendors were never afraid to pivot, and thus the concept of B2C (business-to-consumers) was born – and with them, of course, new “tools” (hint: they were the same tools, with minor differences – just like the “verticalized” solutions of the times were the same tools with different interfaces). these new tools proved slightly better at managing commerce-centered interactions, large scale, and simple repeatable processes that were not tied to customer lifecycles – but not nearly as good as necessary. alas, this was the time (mid-2000s) that concepts like MarTech emerged, indicating that the largest investment in B2C was not well served by CRM tools – but i digress…

and then, social media and smart phones.

talk about throwing a wrench into the whole thing… you can look at a tv show and notice something interesting that you like, pull up the company website in a smart phone, buy the product – have it packaged and shipped, and never leave your couch. there were no more campaigns here, no more tracking marketing profiles in monthly reports, no more “service will be done via our call center from 9-5 only”.

the world changed, dramatically. the pendulum swung to the other end (nee customer centricity), and we were (as almost always) caught un-prepared.

and, here is where Ed Thompson enters the picture.

Ed is a larger-than-life, incredible smart analyst at Gartner. I was, at the time, working there. Ed approached me to write about this newfangled idea that was emerging at the time: CEM (customer experience management). and we did. 46 pages of a CEM primer like was never published before. it merged the best lessons we had from CRM, some of the new ideas i had about what later became the customer interaction hub (now customer engagement hub), and some ideas about cloud and new architectural considerations (some of which were later merged into the composable enterprise).

in other words, Ed and I wrote the initial idea that customers, now more connected and better equipped, were in the position to demand experiences and we tried to help them understand what experiences were (here’s a video i did with Ed talking about that and the progress since then, really worth the 20′ to understand the evolution)

granted, this was 20 years ago or more and we learned a lot since then — but this sets the stage for talking about experiences instead of relationships: give the customer power within the interactions, make them bilateral instead of single-sided, and focus on the needs of both – not just one of them (the company, before – read above).

ok, so we learned a lot over the years. we moved from one-sided relationships to two-sided interactions, we brought sentiments and feelings to the whole thing (against my wishes), and we made it about interactions instead of engagement (better defined, measurable, actionable) – of which the most important lesson was: experiences are not managed or designed by the company, they are what customers undergo (experience) when proper interactions happen.

and that brings us to what modern day CX is:

experiences are not managed or designed by the company, they are what customers undergo (experience) when proper interactions happen.

  • modern day CX is about having a different model than we did for CRM (still valid for B2B situations), and customer-centricity (dated legacy, like contact management databases and campaign management tools were outdated when CRM came out) was back then; a model based on two-sided interactions with co-created value for both parties that is dynamic and flexible and based on real-time needs
  • modern day CX is about omni-presence (not omni-channel), and personalized in real time. it is about how a commerce platform leads interactions with help from functions previously done under the disguise of marketing, or service
  • modern day CX is about acknowledging that a customer-360 view is naive, and that data was made to be used (digital transformation anyone?) in real time to optimize processes and profiles, not to be stored forever in case we can use it sometime
  • modern day cx is about infrastructure that the company implements and the customer leverages to accomplish what the customer expects while delivering value back to the company
  • modern day CX is a new way to look at an old problem; use the proper technology, processes, people, governance, and metrics to define it and manage it

and that – that is what we will cover in future installments. stay tuned

(if any of these statements speaks to you, in english or any other tongue, feel free to engage in the conversation below — this is by no means me writing, this is meant to be a project where we get to having something that moves the market forward, thanks.