Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Customer Experience Conversations: Barry Collin

Today, the customer experience (CX) landscape is drastically changing with the explosion of new and emerging technologies affecting the customer journey. With all of this change, it is now more important than ever to understand what it takes to create a strategic customer experience program.

That’s why we recently sat down with Barry C. Collin, CEO of Collin Group, Inc., to discuss the state of CX today and what’s in store for the future. Barry is speaking at the upcoming Total CX Leaders Conference 2015 this week in Miami.

Here’s what Collin had to say:

IIR: What is the best customer experience you’ve had?

Collin: What impresses me are outstanding customer service experiences from industries sometimes cited for not being sufficiently customer-centric.

In a recent personal example, rarely do non-luxury car dealers blow people's minds with stellar CX. But the dealer I purchased my most recent car did: they went so above and beyond in addressing my every concern, need and want that I purchased two cars that day -- one for me, one for my wife. Since then, that dealer re-earns that commitment from me with every predictive, polished and authentic omnichannel interaction.

Some key takeaways include:
·         Stellar Omnichannel CX pays. Exceeding my expectations by such a great degree more than doubled the dealer’s revenue made on my transaction. Not just in initial sale, but in ongoing services as well.
·         If your industry sets the bar for CX, consider it your baseline, not your target.
·         Superior customer-focused, integrated omnichannel experiences aren't limited to premium brands. Training, attitude, the right processes and technology can make any company achieve far beyond their competition.
·         CX breeds customer loyalty. That dealer knows they have me for life...Or at least as long as they maintain their amazing CX.
·         Bottom line: Show customers the love, and they'll show you the money.

IIR: What is top of mind for you regarding customer experience in 2015?

Collin: 2015's major project for me is integrating today's new omnichannel tech tools and processes into organizational culture.  From backend software of every type to in-store beacons, kiosks and screens, there are an endless variety of options. Organizations are focusing on technical and physical implementation. But often those tools upend organizational culture. And culture eats tech for lunch.
A tech-enabled omnichannel approach is a sea change for every company that was founded since, about an hour ago. It usually requires remodeling the way everything is done and approached.

Resistance to change causes the majority of under-delivered results, cost-overruns, and implementation failures today. That harms both system providers and the companies who need to use their tools. It’s costing everyone time, money, and lost opportunity.

So top of mind is what I call creating “Cultural Middleware": techniques and approaches you wrap around implementation to effectively facilitate migration to tech-facilitated omnichannel. Creating appropriate Cultural Middleware is not trivial. You must address as many potential points of resistance as possible, and key to a specific company and its organizational culture. One size doesn’t fit all.

For my work, I leverage the techniques I developed for NASA's scientists and engineers. Fortunately no one needs to be a rocket scientist to make them work for their teams! It’s about bridging technology, people and processes – and sometimes, a whole new way of thinking. To avoid the perils of change and complexity, those bridges are required. But the ROI is unbeatable.

Some thoughts to keep in mind as you migrate to omnichannel include:
·         Most people don’t like hitting reset on the way they do their jobs. Change is not only hard, it can feel truly threatening.
·         You can’t address push-back to process and mindset change through executive mandate
·        The need for Cultural Middleware is now a reality and should be part of every smart partnership between solution providers and companies seeking to become omnichannel. It ensures success for everyone, including company teams, employees and ultimately their end customers.
·         Exclusively for the Total CX Leaders Conference attendees, I'm looking forward to presenting a keynote on my research and approach for Cultural Middleware.  Attendees will leave the session with new understanding and realistic action items. Together we can all move omnichannel forward.

IIR: What is your prediction for where customer experience is going this year and beyond?

Collin: This year we’ll see real movement in omnichannel CX becoming a core component of products. The customer will see less discrete marketing, sales or customer service. CX is a whole-company integrated offering, laser-focused on the customer.

And success will all come down to who executes that integrated offering best in their space. It’s exciting times for those who will seize the opportunity and do it right.

Want to hear more from Barry? Don’t miss his keynote session, “Transitioning to an OmniChannel Culture by Creating Cultural Middleware” at Total CX Leaders Conference 2015 this week in Miami. For more information about the event or to register, click here:  http://bit.ly/1dGUoGj

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