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Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s a largely unanswerable brain game but nevertheless an engaging thought experiment a recent Forbes article challenged readers with, as it related to business strategy and customer experience. Which drives which? Contributing writer Christine Crandell attempts to answer her own question in two steps.

For starters, Crandell argues that too often businesses today are caught up with the technology (read: bells and whistles) behind managing and tracking customer experiences, rather than the experiences themselves. She goes on to say that while “on paper” customer experiences may drive changes in strategy, this “ground up” approach isn’t always true.

But nor is the “top down” approach always one to bank on either. In fact she says the following:

Companies that embark on strategic growth planning inevitably come to the conclusion they do not intimately understand their target customers. The cathartic process of coming to grips with the fact that the organization does not have the insight around lifetime experience expectations for each market and persona is the trigger point for customer experience initiatives. They need that information in order to rationalize business strategy and, at the same time, evolve their culture.

Crandell’s correct conclusion: both strategy and customer experiences are driving changes in how businesses, brands and consumers connect simultaneously. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

So here’s my question:

If chicken and egg scenarios are symbiotic, where does the bird’s nest fit in? What I mean is, in the context of strategy versus experiences, what medium is incubating both? The answer, I believe should be loyalty programs.  Done right, loyalty programs can have a substantial impact on discovering gaps in the day-to-day management and planning process or shortcomings in the loyalty program itself. And as those shortcomings are corrected, improved loyalty programs can help fill the gaps in driving future customer experience and business strategy. As we’ve said in previous blogs and published materials, a business’s loyalty component cannot be an afterthought and nor can a loyalty program management engine and the data it collects and analyzes be siloed from traditional CRM systems. Like the bird’s nest comparison, a loyalty program is central to the chicken (the company) and the egg, (the consumer); a converged hybrid working together.

Speaking of convergence, Crandell predicts a time in the near future where “customer experience strategy, design and execution will become a companywide core competency as well as a core tenet of every organization’s culture.” I, too, believe this is inevitable partly because it’s already happening. In slightly modified language, what strategy and experience boils down to is the need for CRM, loyalty and CEM to join forces. Encouragingly, the Kobie Alchemy platform featuring our advanced marketing and planning (AMP) capability is a new platform extension that seeks to achieve that customer management and loyalty union.

So pardon the cliché, but from my understanding the future is already here. And when it comes to bottom up experiences versus top down strategy, as long as customer loyalty is the ultimate outcome, chicken and egg scenarios are not worth getting your feathers ruffled over.

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