The Zen Guide To CX

This message is for you. It’s for you, product owner at a global CPG. It’s for you, senior marketer at a wildly successful direct-to-consumer product. It’s for you, agency partner setting an engagement strategy for your clients’ presences online. This is for everyone that works on or in support of a product that is sold to consumers. This is about finding your way back to your customers.

Ten years after the financial crisis, we are seeing an unprecedented $2.5 trillion in mergers[1].

The value of announced mergers in the first half of 2018

And that’s just for the first half of 2018. That’s already more than the value of all mergers at the last peak in 2007. And it’s half a trillion dollars more than the value of all mergers at the peak before that, in 2000.

What can this tell us about the global business environment today?
First, it’s hard out there. It’s volatile, and choices must ensure success. Second, it tells us to dig deeper into why this is happening. The New York Times believes that some of the responsibility lies with the ongoing threat of new technologies to eliminate longstanding organizational value in some sectors.[2] I agree, based in part on the number of tech companies that are growing exceptionally quickly, even by exponential standards. Equally as impactful, both new and old companies are experiencing rapid contraction in the face of these changing markets.

Noise distracts us from our customers
Even if you’re not the target or the driver of a merger, you’re likely battling with other considerations that were barely on the horizon just a few years back. You’re likely examining your MarTech stack (present and future), or how to manage all of the content you’re creating. And you’re wondering how to measure all of the data generated by engaging with that content. The outside factors demanding your attention and reaction in today’s business landscape often make you consider your customers less, not more.

The growing influence of Customer Experience (CX) as a legitimate lens to shape the future of product design and delivery has contributed to the noise we have to sift through to find the signals that customers are sending to us. It’s no wonder that it sometimes feels as though we’re running down an endless door-filled hallway, choosing a path at random and hoping to find our customers behind it.

Three-steps to connecting with your customers
There is a simpler, better way, that allows us to contextualize all of the outside factors and reduce the noise. The way forward starts with a recommitment to knowing our customers. But before we begin, take a deep breath. Seriously. Breathe in deeply, and exhale slowly.

Step 1: Know your customers
First, ask yourself, “Do I really know my customers?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ go a step deeper and write down how you know. Is it through personas? Journeys? Customer interviews and data analysis? Social listening? Any of these research-backed methods are valid, and there are dozens more. If your answer was ‘no,’ a quick search on any of these terms will get you well on your way. At this stage, how it gets done matters much less than whether it gets done.

Step 2: Champion ubiquitous understanding
Second, ask yourself, “Does everyone in my organization really know our customers?” I mean everyone—from brand managers and warehouse pickers, to chemists in labs and front-end developers. Again, if you’re not feeling a confident ‘yes,’ there are many time-tested paths to success. Some organizations share knowledge through training sessions, while others use repetitive exposure and digital sharing tools to foster organic familiarity with core customer behaviors. Either way, broad knowledge of your customers across the organization is important, not just as a catalyst for organizational unity, but to protect your bottom line.

Step 3: Get ready to flow
The third and final step is about the future: After doing the deep work required in the first two steps, ask yourself, “Can my organization flow?” Does your organization move with minimal chaos and friction? Can it adapt quickly in response to constant customer change?

As Heraclitus of Ephesus helped us understand almost 2500 years ago, the feelings that the current markets are inducing are nothing new. “Everything flows,” he wrote, “nothing stays.” We can control our reactions and the decisions we make in the face of change. And when it comes to the experiences we create, injecting customer data into the process gives us an objective lens through which to analyze our customers’ signals. The data-driven journey map below, while topically fictitious, is based on the types of journeys we create for our clients regularly. They contain the qualitative data that we have relied on historically. And they also show specific, quantitative experience data that help us diagnose and bring into focus the opportunities that the qualitative data illuminate.

Moo Milk Data-Infused Customer Journey

Moo Milk Customer Journey Detail

Armed with a data-backed approach to understanding your customers, I hope you’re feeling steadier, calmer, and more directed in the customer understanding lifecycle. A monolithic understanding of our customers and their ever-changing behaviors must always be built on a solid foundation of initial understanding. And that foundation must be constantly tested. So, next time you’re feeling anxious about an outside market factor that you can’t control, remember that there is always more to know about your most valuable asset—your customers.

If you’re looking for better insight into your customers, contact us at