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Innovation Blog


Musings on (digital) Monopoly and a new way to think about customer centricity

customer centricity

Reflections from EU’s ruling against Google this past week

Companies that grow effectively are those that capture customers’ attention.

Scale and growth used to come from ownership of supply: think telecommunications with its wires, Comcast and its network, automobile companies and their supply chains, utilities, and their infrastructure.

But scale and growth don’t come from those sources anymore. The rise of the internet and the capability to acquire customers at a near zero marginal cost has shifted scale and growth to the demand side of the equation. This is especially true for those who know how to interact with customers effectively by orchestrating capabilities from the supply side while delivering through new and different types of distribution channels. To make this clear, think of who the new (digital) monopolies are as compared with yesterday’s.

The European Ruling against Google last week was clear on what makes up today’s monopoly: namely, an organization that drives network effects based on the use of data to shape behavior and relevance.

That got me thinking.

The competitive game comes down to, as we’ve all heard loudly and clearly, customer experience (although it’s a different type of customer experience than is typically thought of.)

Customer experience is typically confused with ‘User Interface’ and ease of interaction with one’s products and services. This has led to much money and effort spent on customer journey mapping to figure out the “pain points” from a customer’s perspective regarding how they use your product or service.

Two Generations of Customer Journey Mapping

Generation 1 involves the mapping of one’s product to where, when, and how a customer engages with it to identify points of friction that could be eliminated. Its objective is to make the process simpler (and faster) to engage with.

Generation 2 is similar but adds an emotional element to it. Not only does it map a product (or service) to where, when, and how a customer engages within that journey, but it also adds another “layer” to the mapping that focuses on points of emotional tension or “sources of happiness.” Its objective is to understand the pivot points of emotional engagement across a process to make the process simpler and faster to engage with.

Both of these are fine approaches, however they remain tied to engaging with a set of products and/or services you already have. Their starting point is that “you have a problem to fix with respect to how customers engage with your existing set of products and services.”

However, if we take lessons from today’s growth leaders, customer experience is based on the orchestration of capabilities and services to help customers get done what they want or need to get done, of which use of your products/services may be a part of.

The New – Third Generation – of Customer Engagement Mapping

So the question becomes, what is it that your customers need to get done? What role can you play and what capabilities (in the form of a product or service) can you deliver to help your customers do their jobs? Again, scale and growth come from orchestrating capabilities to deliver new sources of value in new ways. Don’t take my word for it; just look at the digital giants of today and their underlying business model to catalyze network effects, through the use of data to shape behavior and use.

What is great customer experience?

Customer experience goes far beyond the user interface. Instead, to put it simply, customer experience entails helping customers do what they need to get done. It also involves orchestrating all the capabilities from engaging to interacting to delivering (think of how Amazon orchestrates products and capabilities from vendors, how it uses PRIME, its use of its recommendation engine, simplicity of using payments, and so on) all in service of helping customers do what they want to do, which is not purchasing something, but receiving what they want quickly so they can begin using it.

The questions underlying this third generation of customer journey mapping becomes: what is it that customers want to do, and what are the ecosystems in which they spend their time, money and effort? And then, how and where do you inject yourself into the ecosystem to engage with them along the way?

Answering these questions begins to tie together the threads of the EU Ruling against Google and lessons to learn from the digital monopolies to help you identify and capture new sources of value in new ways.

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