When was the last time you had a conversation with a customer about them, not just about you? Looked at your product or service from their point of view? Put yourself in their shoes for a stomp around? The old way to engage with customers was to try and control the conversation; tell not show, assume not listen, impose not collaborate, dictate not invite in. Customer power has shifted and many organisations may feel they’ve lost control.  

No wonder the recent PwC CEO survey found 79% of Australian CEOs were concerned about the changes in customer behaviours. This is a significant finding and one that reflects the business world today.

At first glance the challenge and the solution are simple. In undertaking the role of selling and delivering an organisation’s products or services it should understand customers and competitors and deliver in a way to better meet their needs and wants.

Fast facts: Find out why PwC believes Customer experience is the new battleground and one 1 of 5 key areas that Australia’s CEOs should focus on this year to set their companies up for long-term, sustainable success

However it is not that simple. As a result, it is no surprise that many of the CEOs we surveyed believed they didn’t have a strategy to fix it: the PwC CEO Survey found customer experience was the number one business priority for Australian CEOs, but the fact remains that although CEOs recognise the growing centrality of customer experience they are less clear on how to develop it or turn that into business growth.

Customer experience is the new battleground

The nuance is this – the game has now changed entirely: Customer experience is the new battleground for organisations. Customers have never had more power or choice than they do today. Many organisations we meet feel they have lost much of the control of the conversation with customers, through an increase in choice and competitors (including new ones coming from out of nowhere) who move at speed, markets being disrupted, and customers identifying needs then researching solutions through channels that are owned by customers, not companies themselves.

This means you need to be able to move at absolute speed and flexibility. This requires different ways of understanding and communicating customer needs, more agile ways of allocating budgets and investments, and an ability to quickly form internal and external relationships differently.

It is about the how of:

  • Understanding customer behaviour with data (yours and other’s)
  • Having a deeper understanding of people through neuroscience and behavioural economics; knowing about their lives, beyond products, services and fleeting interactions
  • Understanding needs and wants beyond how they are using products and services
  • What the product means to them and what they value
  • Evolving marketing and communications to better bring together the creative and rational, the quantitative and qualitative, the inspirational and the data
  • Being purpose led to connect with customers on a deeper level

But leading such a radical change requires a change in mindset, for agility to be built into the business and for customer experience to permeate everything. Reinventing the customer experience is the new battleground, it’s a mindset that needs you to untie your laces and take a walk into battle wearing your customer's shoes.