The Long Now of Customer Experience

Everything is moving so quickly. I barely have time to think about what I’m going to have for dinner, let alone plan the next month, quarter, year. Yet, with these challenging economic times ahead, we are forced to ask ourselves – are we prepared to make it through, and then for years after that?

In Customer Experience, we find ways to make it easier and more compelling for people to do business with us. We also talk about how to make customers want to do business with us longer. We all know that the reality of the situation however is that if you’re not here to do business, then what have we got?

You got it. Nothing. No matter where you are in your organization, you have to be a part of the conversation for planning well into the future.

The Long Now is the idea that slow and better thinking needs to be here to complement and sometimes contradict the “cheaper/faster” culture we live in today. While in all reality, true interpretation of a succefully implemented “Long Now” methodology plans 10, 15, 20 years into the future to create a strategy for a prosperous business. But, we all have to start somewhere. So start today – jot down your organizations immediate (6 months), mid-term (18 months), and long-term (5-10 years) goals. You may find that some of those long-term goals are bets that you’re making on social, economic, or cultural changes. That’s fine – we’re just taking notes right now.

Ask yourself:

– Do you have people to help you achieve these goals? Where are you lacking talent? Billy Beane is my hero when it comes to recruiting good talent. First, read Moneyball if you’ve never heard of BB. Then, find smart, untapped talent who can keep you on your toes and will believe in making the dream real.
– Do you have the skills to help lead your organization through the Long Now? If not, what skills do you need to acquire? Don’t forget that sometimes one’s best skill is building teams of talented people who can collectively run the marathon.
– Who else in your industry has similar goals, and can you collaborate intellectually to acheive some of those 5-10 year long-term goals? Change takes more than one voice so build your allies where you need to.

Then, bring in your mentors, employers, and industry partners and engage them in a conversation about how to look at your business in both short, mid, and long-term. Set small goals for tweaking the way you do business at first to get from being reactionary and focused on smarter/faster to spending just a fraction of your month meeting with a team of people identified to recalibrate your organization and industry’s Long Now strategy.

One last note about Customer Experience. Very simply, it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one. Part of every organization’s Long Now strategy should be to identify immediate, mid, and long-term strategies for increasing the quality and extending the length of the customer relationship.

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