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 Digitalization is constantly re-shaping the level and form of customer expectations and our ability to deliver customer experience. The opportunities are endless with access to a world of information, and peer influence just a click away.

Yesterday, I visited the ReTail Tech conference in Stockholm to learn about the digital impact on the retail industry. I have the opportunity to listen to a wide range of companies from Google and Apple to Apoteket and Indiska. A reoccurring message from all presenters was the importance of Customer Experience. It is defined as the ability to exceed customer expectation by aiming for their emotional senses. That when we enter a store, we feel connected to the image and service provided by the brand, location and employees. But when does the customer experience work and how is it influenced by digitalization? And how can IT contribute to Great Customer Experience?

Let us first go back a couple of year to the mid 80’s and Jan Carlzon (former CEO of Scandinavian Airlines). In his aim to re-orient the airline, he coined the expression “moment of truth” to describe the interaction between company and customer. In his own words, a company that recognizes that its only true assets are satisfied customers, all of who expect to be treated as individuals and who won’t select them as their airline unless they did just that.The moment of truth for Carlzon was every opportunity to make a difference when in contact with customers, by and large on the front lines.

Definition: In customer service, instance of contact or interaction between a customer and a firm (through a product, sales force, or visit) that gives the customer an opportunity to form (or change) an impression about the firm. (businessdictionary.com)

The “moment of truth” concept still plays a pivotal role in retail industry (and all other industries) today. Customer Experience is formed in every “moments of truth” no matter where in the purchasing cycle it appears. When we as customers do not feel (emotionally) connected with the firm in a “moment of truth”, we will leave them and seek a new “partner”. But what is interesting is that with new digital technology, the “moment of truth” expands to include all aspects of the firm’s appearance (for example social media). An unethical behavior or bad store service will spread rapidly in social media creating a new “moment of truth” when we re-evaluate our impression about the firm.

The customer expectation is today not static. During many years, the expectations were more or less static, easy to understand and interpret, and adjust marketing messages to. The digital era, on the other hand, is re-shaping the competitive landscape and new technology and new companies are here to continuously challenge our perspectives, expectations, emotional connects and loyalty. Key is to understand that digitalization drives a constant change in customer behavior and expectations. For example, I don’t believe that customers where unsatisfied with Kodak and their products (probably many loyal customers) but new technology (digital photo) changed the customer perspectives and behavior, and hence the basis for customer expectations. Without the ability to react to the new level and form of expectations, Kodak could not compete and the rest is history. Kodak did not survive the “moment of truth” in the new digital era. The point is that digitalization is constantly re-shaping the level and form of customer expectations and our ability to deliver customer experience. The opportunities are endless with access to the world of information and peer influence just a click away.

So, what does “Moment of truth” and “Customer Experience” have to do with IT and governance issues?

What is interesting in this discussion is that “moment of truth” and Customer Experience is not isolated to the relationship between firm and customer, but in any professional relationship (also private?). For example, the same concept exists between the IT department and business, as well as between the employees and the firm. The IT department need, in every contact with business, manage its expectations and form a great impression of its work. It is not isolated to the delivery of a specific service, but to every contact it has with business – to achieve Great Business Experience.

What we can see are instances where IT does to support Great Business Experience (not succeeding in the “moment of truth”), IT is often not invited or trusted to be a strategic partner and discuss strategic issues/innovation. The problem is often that IT does not understand its role, how its value proposition and how we interact and communicate. The IT employees tend to focus more on operational issues (platforms, outsourcing, and lean projects) that does not direct contribute to business success. They communicate and interact from an IT perspective and not from a business perspective. This is not an operative issue but rather a performance management issue. We see more IT Business Relationship Manager roles to bridge the gap but still we tend to fail daily interaction. What is our identity? What are the business needs and how do we fulfill them? How do we interact and communicate?

Recommendations:

  1. Ask yourself: how does IT collaborate with business? What are the connection points where “moments of truth” appears? How are these managed?
  2. Build awareness: every IT employees are ambassadors of IT and need to take every opportunity to make a difference when in contact with business.
  3. Understand: what other “moment of truths” is there in your organization? Is there such a thing as Great Employee Experience?
  4. Contact The Goodwind Company to understand how IT can deliver Great Business Experience!

After the ReTail Tech conference I travelled home to pick up my children at pre-school and had to wait 25 minutes for a delayed bus. In the “new normal”, I expect everything work smoothly without waiting times and this is obviously not possible a common Wednesday in central Stockholm with unpredictable traffic. No Great Customer Experience but what bothered me the most was the lack of information. In the end, I arrived late to the pre-school and my son was so happy to see me. It was pure joy far away from “moments of truth” discussions. Pure happiness!

– Hans Gillior

Do not hesitate to contact me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pub/hans-gillior/0/a36/285)

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