Customer experience doesn't interest Wall Street analysts. While analysts participating in earnings calls get excited about new product development and even marketing campaigns to promote those products, they seemingly couldn't care less about how companies maintain their customer relationships.
They should start caring. As Jeffrey Phillips writes on his Innovate on Purpose blog, companies can get more bang with fewer bucks by focusing on the customer experience:
New product innovation is risky and expensive. The vast majority of new products that reach the market fail to return the investments made to create them. In this current market, few new big bets are going to be made on new products or services. But experiences-how we interact with a customer or a consumer, in all channels and touchpoints-that can be done with far less risk and less cost.
While companies' primary interest in customer support has been in trying to drive down the costs as much as possible, maybe the shaky economy can convince them it makes sense to increase their investments in customer support. As Phillips points out, consumers have fewer discretionary dollars and will spend them with companies that can offer rewarding relationships, not just products.
Forrester Research Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler make a similar point in their book "Empowered," which is reviewed by Charles Babock in InformationWeek. Bernoff and Schadler argue that employees who bring their own experiences as consumers to work with them will be the ones responsible for generating ideas that will keep their employers competitive. Both business managers and IT departments will need to cede more control to those employees.
IT's support will be most needed in capturing and analyzing customer data, keeping it secure and ensuring it flows freely throughout an organization. As I wrote last week, the information distribution task is likely to be the most challenging as it involves cultural as well as technological change.