People - The Bit That Customer Experience Misses

Customers & Colleagues Are….. People

So what I am talking about here is the growth of purpose led, or the need for emotional engagement in, brands/products/services etc…. which should be:

  1. Of absolutely no surprise to anyone
  2. A really great basic for us all to grasp

Most people come to work for, and like to buy from, organisations that they feel represent and/or enhance something they feel intrinsically represents themselves (or in reality the best version of themselves).

So in this article what I am going to explore are some of the things you might want to consider. As with many of my postings/musings much of this has been about for a while and I can be a bit contrary about about it being presented as ‘exciting and new’.

However the bit that perhaps I have not really paid due consideration to is the fact that until only recently most people have not had the remit, capability or permission to stray outside of their functional silo, but if ‘digital’ is doing one thing… it is exposing those that do not adopt a true Outside In view of creating and delivering their brand.

And that leads me to what is wrong with (philosophically & practically) Customer Experience.. it should be People Experience.

Before We Get Started

Straight out of the box I just want to get this clear:

By People Experience I am NOT talking about the bit HR are increasingly doing. I AM talking about the bit Customer Experience, in my view, gets wrong. Wrong in the context of only considering one stakeholder’s needs when trying to create an enduring business in a competitive marketplace.

I do have a lot of time for CX. In fact, our Co-Founder Nicola Collister was the first UK top 100 CX Main Board Director more than 10 years ago. But for us CX thinking is fundamentally flawed, which is why we pioneered People Experience. NOT as a methodology – we are far too interested in creating outcomes for that – but as a mindset and approach to getting and maintaining competitive advantage.

The Only Goal That Matters

To succeed in a competitive marketplace, and to be honest provide a more enjoyable place to work, you need to:

Provide an emotionally compelling reason for people to ‘deal’ with you in preference to a competitor.

You do this by working out what you do best (your proposition), that ‘your’ customers want most, and then delivering it as consistently, efficiently & effectively as possible. It’s a 360 degree all stakeholder thing… not just a customer thing…

Context Is King – Or a Camel will only beat a Horse in a desert

Before I do share my thin thinking one-word strategy approach, a bit of context.

We ask the CEO’s we come across – honestly you can talk to them, after all they are People just like you and me – how much time they spend on strategy, and the usual answer is not much. 

They are universally more focussed on the delivery of strategy and looking for accountable ways of ‘directing’ the business to do so, than they are in creating new strategies!

I say this up front as I do not want to denigrate strategy, just put it into context. Oh, and as an aside, if you are spending ages on your strategy (time & money), you most likely don’t have a compelling Proposition you believe in. Or you are engaged in vast amounts of political infighting between siloed business functions Vs delivering stuff your customers want.

A Good Place To Start 

The reason why a step to considering your Colleagues and Customers as People (as long as you then go onto recognise how they might behave differently in certain context – hence why you create ‘Persona’s) is because ‘People Buy From People Like Themselves’. 

Also, every single transaction we have as humans irrespective of a physical product changing hands, is a purchase/exchange – “I’ll do something for you, if you do something for me”.

And they make this judgement based on something often referred to as intuition, which can be better articulated as – I’m likely to feel better (or worse) about myself by dealing with this person/company.

Fig 1 Why People Buy – Or Talk to – Or Socialise With – Certain People

And just for absolute clarity if anyone states you can trust them… Do please start looking for the small print. Trust is earned by one party and bestowed by the other. It’s not a value that can be stated.

So Emotion Is Present In All Transactions – So It’s A Given?

Here is the odd bit. Many companies find emotion at work a really hard thing to allow though the door. I suspect most associate it with either conflict (something often associated with change – and unavoidable + necessary by the way). Or woolly rubbish best left to Marketing and their overcharging agencies.

But if you are going to leverage the next big differentiator which is your Colleagues – don’t forget they are people – then you are going to have to spend significantly more time and effort of understanding how they can feel a lot better about themselves by coming to work.

The Easy Bit

Luckily identifying this is very easy to do. It’s the execution bit that gets hard because we exist in a ‘doing loads of stuff differently all the time‘ culture and most executives are penalised for finding new and exciting and engaging ways of doing the same things differently – you know, like promoting the core values in ways all employees can understand and contribute to so that they can help the managers & directors deliver exceptional service intuitively to the Customers, who spend more, for longer, so driving shareholder value.

Fig 2 People Centric Change

So simply put, the emotion that ‘People’ should be engaging with comes from your Business purpose via your Proposition. And the engine house of emotional engagement are your Values.

The reason it’s easier than you think to get at these, even if like most you are sceptical, and/or can’t remember your brand values because (completely wrongly by the way!) most organisations again feel Values are the woolly stuff marketing come up with, is that the values that make up your ‘Brand’ can be found in the People – Customer & Colleagues – who transact with you now.

Why… Emotionally… Should I Buy From You?

If you only ponder one question on you, please try to give the above one some headspace. And do so in the context of Customers, Colleagues, Managers, Directors & Shareholders… after all, are we not all people.

Simon Norie


PS: As a final thought Simon has done a short (3 minute) video which you can view below or by  CLICKING HERE

By Simon Norie - Co-Founder & Empathy Creation Specialist
Data led Board level Brand marketeer. Passionate about aligning Colleagues to a common purpose they can contribute too.