October 6, 2017

Purpose-driven customer experience – a true differentiator

Marja Leena Pinomaa

Marja Leena Pinomaa, Head of Enterprise Feedback Management, Acting Head of Customer Experience and Insights, Tieto

Does everyone – and everything – need a purpose? What is the purpose of customer experience? What is the value we aim to create – and how is it perceived? These fundamental questions are being discussed more and more, both as part of our personal lives as well as in business. Here are some reflections based on my experiences.

A purpose is about a reason or motivation for doing something. When doing something on purpose, we do it with intentions. 

In my personal life, I’m a firm believer that everything has a purpose. When looking back in my life, the different paths I’ve taken – even if not always so desired ones at the time – have been the right ones. To be able to feel fulfilment and be satisfied with one’s own life, one needs a purpose – whatever it might be. People can find their purpose from different things. Jenni Santalo, my colleague at Tieto, has found her passion from doing good and focusing on making the world a bit better, day by day, one interaction at a time.

The purpose may also change over the time. For a long time, mine was pretty much work related, but nowadays it is more family oriented: to enable good life for my daughter and myself. I see my work today more as an enabler for realizing my personal purpose even if at the same time I’m also extremely passionate about it – developing customer experience.

Differentiation through customer experience

In the beginning of this year I joined the CX MasterClass events in Helsinki with Shaun Smith, a highly-recognized expert in customer experience. He is emphasizing a lot the purpose and encouraging companies to go back to the very basics: What is their core reason for being? What do they really stand for as a brand? And whether they do things on purpose, intentionally? According to him, a differentiation through customer experience can only succeed if seamless and consistent customer experiences are delivered across different touchpoints – on purpose.

Tieto just recently published a study about Insights of Customer Experience Management (CEM) maturity in Nordic companies. The study highlights that customer centricity and ability to build strong customer experiences across all channels is fast evolving into a critical differentiating factor for companies. Digital customer experience plays a key role in enabling this development. The Nordic companies claim they are ready to invest in CEM related development to gain better customer satisfaction, but also to achieve growth in sales and profitability.

Many sources (e.g. Vision Critical and Walker’s study “Customers 2020 – the future of B-to-B customer experience”) are stating that by 2020 customer experience is a more important brand differentiator than price or product. This means that companies need to be able to anticipate the future needs of their customers and focus on creating superior experiences driving customer value – perceived value – because it is all about perception. We at Tieto can already see these signs in our own customer feedback data.

Customer centric culture – the key enabler for superior customer experiences

An important enabler in creating consistent experiences is a customer-obsessed or customer-centric corporate culture. The customer needs to be the centre of the universe for everyone within the organization, regardless if one works in direct customer interface or in the back office. And it should always be the real customer outside the organization even if one can impact the customer’s experiences only indirectly. In my opinion, the frequently used term in corporations – internal customer – should not even exist! 

I’m great enthusiast in finding connections between the employee experience, customer experience and business results. At Tieto we managed to prove the correlation between our customer experience data and business results last year. Now our ambition is to analyze our data for the whole chain starting from the employee experience and engagement, hoping to prove the case!

Perceived value as a core element

To create meaningful experiences for its customers an organization needs to understand what is the value element appreciated the most by individuals within a customer’s organization. Every individual has his own purpose and motivations against which he is evaluating – and perceiving value.

At Tieto, a lot of effort was put a couple years ago in re-thinking our corporate purpose. We ended up emphasizing the value we create for our customers, for our people and the ecosystem in which we operate as well as for the society at large. To put it shortly: We are creating value for life.

Thinking of value connects very well with customer experience. Ultimately, in the creation of superior and meaningful experiences across the touchpoints, it is about the value perceived for an individual himself or for his organization that matters. Delivering the customer experiences seamlessly and consistently is a collaborative effort activating whole organization to stand behind our purpose – on purpose.

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