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Disruption in Customer Experience Status Quo

During Forrester's research into sustainable customer experience strategies, they ran across several companies with innovative approaches to changing the status quo in their industry. By looking across these firms, they were able to isolate five noteworthy approaches:

Ultrasimplicity -- Companies often compete with each other by adding new features into their offerings. Over time, this process of continuous enhancement can lead to products and services with more capabilities than most customers need. How many Microsoft Word customers, for instance, use macros? When the offerings in a market get overly complex, there's an opportunity for one or more firms to disrupt the market by stripping away features and creating a highly simplified offering.

Online Infusion -- The number of U.S. households with broadband more than doubled in the last few years. At the same time, consumers are using the Internet in more immersive and interconnected ways. This increasing customer willingness to do things online has outpaced most companies ability to support it. Even though companies provide online sales or service capabilities, few have fully integrated digital interactions into their product mix. That's why there's an opportunity to disrupt the status quo by designing offerings that natively incorporate online capabilities.

Service Infusion -- Companies often think of providing services independently of the products that they deliver. But customer needs are best met with a strong combination of both. That's why firms can create a distinct advantage when they blend together product and service offerings. Frankly, this is the area where I have witnessed the most opportunity for disruption. Combining the development and marketing of products with professional services, and/or customer care value-add -- from a life-cycle perspective -- is a clear point of differentiation.

Service Amplification -- For many companies, customer service is viewed as pure cost. Rather than investing in higher levels of service, these companies look for ways to cut back -- putting service capabilities on the chopping block whenever they face cost pressures. With this relentless marketplace squeeze on services, firms can differentiate themselves by bucking the trend and making a significant investment in raising their service levels. Alternatively, in my opinion, they can also actively enable peer-group support -- so customers can help each other.

Value Repositioning -- One of the things that Starbucks success has taught us is that coffee shops don't have to compete based solely on their coffee. The same insight also holds true for many other industries. When companies take a closer at a targeted set of customers, they'll often find an opportunity to appeal to a different, less obvious set of needs and desires. This information can be used to shift how you interact with customers -- and change the value proposition. Meaning, one person's short-sighted commodity perspective can be another person's opportunity to see the same world through a different lens.

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