Rethinking Customer Experience’s Role in Business

Customer experience as a management function

The technology already exists to collect and analyze customer data in order to create customer journeys, so that’s not the problem. The need to be innovative seems to have finally gotten through to businesses, too. What’s still missing is someone on management level who’s responsible for the customer experience. And when a project’s budget threatens to be exceeded, customer research is the first thing to be left out.

When the dots don’t connect

If you only develop separate products you lose sight of the underlying problem. A traveler coming to Schiphol by car isn’t just trying to find a parking spot. They also want to know whether the plane will be on time and how long it takes to walk to the terminal. It might seem enough to just show them the way to their reserved parking spot, but you’re not optimizing the customer journey. It’s important to look beyond the possibilities of the available data.

Overly complicated business structures

Some companies do have a complete picture of the customer journey, but can’t seem to convert it into action. The existing structure gets in the way of solving customers’ problems and pain points. Let’s take Schiphol as an example here again. They wanted to improve the parking flow, but the same type of parking is sometimes called Long Parking, sometimes Smart Parking, and sometimes P3. That’s way too complicated for users; communicating your product in three different ways to someone who visits the airport maybe twice a year is bound to go wrong. It means the base product should be changed. Thorough research provides a good foundation to help you break through the barriers of the present business structure.

Keeping money in your pocket

Innovation starts with realizing how much worth real customer insights have. The next step is to bring customer experience to a high level within the organization and make financial resources available for use in the right way. This step is vital — only then is it possible to roll out user-centricity into projects. If you don’t do all of this, it’s better to keep the money in your pocket. Admittedly the shift in thinking required to achieve this is easier in lean organizations (where it’s simpler to switch than in big traditional companies) but doing nothing isn’t an option; you’ll lose to both your competitor and the newcomers who acknowledge your customers’ pain points and find good solutions for them. Because who would you rather be: Netflix or Kodak?



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