Customer Experience Management in Spain: why we are still far away from awareness and implementation

Written by Silvana Buljan for Buljan & Partners Consulting

Last week I spoke about CEM at a CRM-vendor sponsored event in Barcelona, and was positively surprised about the audience´s complicity and continuous nodding during my speech. At the same time I could feel their desperation and helplessness, because in their own organizations decisionmakers tend to be deaf about longterm, customer centric strategies that support profitable growth. The more blue-chip you are, the bigger and shareholder value driven you get. I wonder if shareholders really only look for short-term results and not manage their investment portfolios with a longterm interest behind. It might be that they are used as perfect excuse for managing business with a 3-month-horizon focused on sales and controlling, which it´s easier to push and requires less strategic leadership!

Anyway, coming back to CEM in Spain and – as already emphasized in previous blogposts – the direct link and natural dependency between excellent customer experience and employee engagement, I confront myself again and again with the same question: is the cultural discourse of a country relevant for coherence between “wanting” to deliver exceptional customer experience and “needing” to motivate employees to do so?

Imagine the following situation: you are on a business trip and were not informed that part of the agenda is a gala dinner. You have nothing to wear in your suitcase prepared for two working days, and only have one hour to solve the issue. In one store a bored employee shows you one outfit after another, without even looking at you and checking if it fits your style. In another store a happy woman offers her support, asks you about the venue, the people who will attend the gala dinner, the context of the event, and looks at YOU. Then she starts putting some outfits together that might look good on you and invites you to try them on. She also offers you a glass of cold water as it is very hot that day…. Both scenarios have happened in the same country, the same city, just one block away from the other. Both were premium designer stores and have the same target group. Where would you buy your outfit? I think the answer is self explanatory.

Cultural discourse sets the basis for common sense and intuition, education and motivation do the rest.

Let me explain this with Spain as example (nota bene: the 2 scenarios have not happened in Spain): This beautiful and rich country in culture, food, savoir faire and happiness is a still young democracy. The generation of 40+ has been educated to not question decisions taken by superiors, what the boss says will be done because he said so. Leading organizations and teams would not correspond to what we call today “Executive Leadership”. How could you facilitate participation and motivation in such an environment? Why should employees be thrilled about delivering exceptional customer experience if they don´t have it in their DNA? If we look at education something similar must have occurred: don´t question what the teacher says, don´t question anything about the content in class, to pass the exam it´s important to memorize it.  Memorize and fulfill, and later in your job do the same thing… I´m happy to observe that there is a huge change in the 20+ generation, where questioning, demanding, eagerness to provoke change is present more than ever. And experimenting new things, looking for a continuous move and improvement.

The 20+ generation will be in decision making positions in business and politics in about 20 years. I don´t know if Customer Experience Management will be a “topic” in 2030. I do know that it is more fiction than reality in 2012, and that we still have some work to do in creating awareness. Not for CEM itself (everybody by now understands that only satisfied customers will convert into loyal customers), but for the coherence between CEM and the need to motivate and engage employees.


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