Abandoning Customer Experience at the Worst Possible Time

By Joe Dyer
Director of Experience Strategy & Insight
projekt202

Working at a full-service experience research, design and development software consultancy, one can come into contact with many diverse companies. They span many industries. Some are multi-national, some are mid-market and some are brand-new upstarts. They are all very different. And yet, there seems to be one constant among all of them.

When times get tough, company leaders tend to divest or divert spending away from the user or customer experience. Tough times may be defined as a falling stock price, a reduction in venture capital, or perhaps stingingly bad industry press. Industry leaders tend to take the long road to recovery.

Let’s look at two strategies for improvement and see which is better.

Negative Change Strategy

This is an organization or business-focused approach. The company finds itself in a place where things aren’t going so well. The following drivers result in a need for change:

  • Sales are lagging
  • Net Promoter Scores are not so promoting
  • Steeply-falling stock price
  • Series of corporate scandals
  • Loss of market share to a new upstart
  • The sky is falling and an iceberg has struck the starboard side

Some combination of the above has set in and often results in a long malaise of round after round of layoffs, long business process improvement studies, and perhaps the elimination of consultants and/or contractors or partners.

The consequences for the company can be: 

  • The solid performers remaining in the workforce can be demoralized and may leave, resulting in loss of mindshare. 
  • Industry press continues to report on layoffs and reorganizations.

This process takes time for the company to dig itself out of its situation and can feel like a negative feedback loop.

Let’s look at an alternative approach.

Positive Change Strategy

This approach is customer-focused rather than focused on the organization. It is the study of what customers truly desire from a product or service offering. Deep, empathic, generative research of customers yielding personas, customer journey maps and strategic insights are much faster in developing a positive path forward.

Employees can rally around the newly-gained insights and a prioritized roadmap to recovery.

The industry press can even begin covering the company’s newfound commitment to a customer-centered approach with praise — oftentimes before anything even ships. They know that a company that commits itself to fulfilling its customers’ stated and unstated needs is the pony to bet on. Good press makes the marketplace happy.

Properly researching customer experience needs and the discipline to deliver on the newly-minted strategy can be the express lane to recovery.

The choice seems clear. Don’t abandon investment in customer experience when it counts the most.

projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software design and development. We are passionate about improving the experiences that people have with enterprise and consumer digital touchpoints.

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