Organizations cannot afford to be operationally driven. A Customer Experience focus is a necessity of survival in today’s hyper-competitive and disrupted retail market.
That said, not every organization realizes this fact yet, which I find disappointing. I was talking to the C-Suite of a retailer (who shall remain nameless) about Customer Experience. It was not a fruitful conversation; they were in denial. I imagined their rejection of the idea of CX must have been like when Blockbuster thought about buying Netflix and decided, “Nah! Streaming is never going to catch on.”
We hosted a special guest Professor Barbara Kahn from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania on our recent podcast. Professor Kahn co-hosts a weekly program on Sirius XM Channel 132 called “Marketing Matters.” Her new book, The Shopping Revolution: How successful retailers win customers in an era of endless disruption, details her experience as Director of the Patty and Jay H. Baker Retailing Center from 2011 to 2017, where she witnessed retail chaos firsthand.
During her tenure, Kahn asked retailers to describe their idea of a great retailer. They said a good merchant. To them, a good merchant means to someone who understands how to merchandise and is excellent at building a compelling assortment of products that customers want. Also, they focus on operations, meaning they know how to get it to the store and manage inventory and supply chain.
However, she noticed the respondents in these conversations were not talking about customers. Then, she reviewed her marketing books. The previous frameworks were also product- and logistics- focused. She noticed that no other organizing framework in retailing recognized the customer existed. However, she knew the Customer Experience was a significant influence in the success of retailers in the disruptive retail environment of 2011 and beyond.
Recognizing that the frameworks needed an update reflecting the changing retailing landscape, she made her own that included the customer. Not only that, she wrote a book about it.