Childhood memories may become fuzzy, but the vibe often persists. No matter how many moments fade from the conscious mind, some remain vivid, untouched by time. For instance, while I cannot recall every trip to the store with my grandpa, one particular visit holds strong.When I was little, my grandparents' neighborhood still had its own small supermarket. Just five minutes away, our walks satisfied both my grandma's shopping list and my lessons on how to look both ways before crossing the street. Looking back now, it was the quintessential 'Mom and Pop' establishment--the kind one may find on an old episode of Dennis the Menace. (Mr. Quigley, anyone?) On one occasion, my grandpa paused to speak with the storeowner because, as one might predict, this man knew most of his frequent shoppers by name. Before we left, however, this sweet gentleman grabbed one Hershey bar from alongside the register and gave it to me for free. More than 20 years later, that feeling of joy and surprise endures.
Instead of depending upon data, the Moms and Pops of yesteryear put customers ahead of everything else, for they were not yet threatened by the big box chains and price clubs of today. Customer experience always stood at the core of their company culture. 'Pop' culture, one might say, focused on seeing people, not metrics, which allowed customer relationships to flourish naturally. They conveyed personalization at levels almost unheard of today, as owners and managers remained close to those on whom their livelihoods depended.
But, as history has proven repeatedly, all good things must come to an end. Eventually, the tiny market became your run-of-the-mill deli and Stop & Shop popped up mere blocks away. Now, businesses don't have the same luxury, for they must remain one step ahead of their most imminent competition if they wish to survive. Many must forego this sort of engagement to pursue those strategies that will keep them afloat. Personalization, as it stands, now boils down to targeted advertisements and tailored offers that are somehow supposed to replicate this former strategy for the digital age. Yet that's just the point--Mom and Pop businesses didn't see customer experience as some strategy they had to implement and master. For them, CX meant making people happy and fostering community support. They were primarily concerned about doing the right thing.
For most organizations across industries today, customer-centric culture must serve as the foundation for each CX strategy to come, as all employees must embody this mindset to guarantee future success. Everybody must have the customer's best interest at heart so they may connect with these individuals in genuine, caring ways, just like the storeowner from long ago. Big business may have the power to put these small establishments out of commission, but those same companies will never sustain this momentum if they neglect to integrate these lessons into their company culture and bring progress full circle.
This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association's Blog Carnival "Celebrating Customer Experience." It is part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day. Check out posts from other bloggers here. - See more at: http://cxday.org