If you want to deliver customer experience, then focus on co-creation

Building a more customer centric organisation requires CX professionals to ditch the top down talk and focus more on the application of co-creation throughout the organisation

CX management is not a defined 'thing' that can be dictated and delivered if only you follow this cookbook. It is a way of applying the customer lens (the ongoing experience ) to uncover sources of value : whether that's saving money or improving satisfaction.

It's no more complicated than that.

We 'walk in the customer's shoes' for commercial benefit and understand when to pay attention and when to ignore the customer viewpoint.

By contrast, a monomaniac cookbook approach, takes us away from the experience. We fail to walk in the customer's shoes, fail to understand context and end up with an organisation gaming the NPS data, producing lots of pretty charts and doing precisely nothing at all (at best).

For me the single biggest failure of the CX profession is that it has removed the customer in customer experience management.

CAT for instance, used to phone customers and engage in a conversation. Their Voice of the Customer programme was literally that. This surfaced opportunities not seen before and engendered trust simply because it got employees to appreciate the life of the customer. Until, of course, it was ripped out and replaced by a mechanical NPS process.

Co-Creation Logic

There is however a better way. Better precisely because its focus is not to dictate but engage better listening and thinking skills. Better because it encourages us to innovate around value, And admit when we are wrong.

This is co-creation logic.

For me this entails:

Identifying and engaging with build teams i.e., close the loop with those parties who actually 'do stuff' as opposed to 'measure stuff'

So comms, branding and IT functions all have their own siloed KPIs and ways of working (and quite rightly so). But it's these and other stakeholders (both internal and external) you must work with to establish and ground a customer-led approach to the business;.

An example of this is my work with Avios. My role here was to create great insights from the voice of the customer, the voice of the employee and the voice of other more disruptive stakeholders; create an innovation funnel and close the loop with frequently more skeptical parties. Who also, by the way, hold a critical innovation role.

This was always done on the basis of pure commercial benefit either long -term or short-term. A great cost saving initiative arising from the customer view being as valuable as a more engaging value add.

Management Implication: close the loop with build teams

Management Implication: identify internal and external disruptive parties to challenge thinking (especially from outside your industry)

Acting as a networked resource to create the right environment for co-created conversation

Don't break the silo, integrate the silos.

A CX design function is ideal for this purpose. One whose whole modus operandi is to integrate and ensure insights turn into action. And that insights are continuously useful

This last point is an important one. Too often companies depend on surveys going out to, well, survey! Too few companies realise that the point of interaction is also a great chance to uncover new findings of 'how we can go forward together' (source: Dr Olaf Hermans) i.e., co-create

  • So at Ericsson I built an A2B CX methodology. This supported the consultative sale (usually delivered by service teams not sales). Hence, SME's can now open up the conversation with the C-suite to uncover what is important to them (and hence more meaningful).

  • With Bahamas Telecom (BTC) we used this approach not to sell the latest $million managed services system, but to ask the BTC C-suite, what was important to them. This surfaced an opportunity for Ericsson to help them reduce the rate of dropped calls amongst their rich banking clientele. A low value sale, no doubt, but meaningful and valuable to the client: hence building trust and commitment to Ericsson.

  • At Tarmac, I was amazed that a 1 hour chat with key clients revealed immediate opportunities for new grades of cement and larger truck requirements. All things that were hidden in the service and sales conversation. In essence a more relationship driven conversation had built the trust to uncover 'where can we go forward together'.

Such insights can then be fed back into your CRM system and be used to profile other potential companies who might face the same issues.

Management Implication: create relational moments with your customers (and other stakeholders such as employees) that expand the conversation to uncover insights around 'how we can go forward together'

Manage great data from employees, customers and other stakeholders

Forget CSAT, NPS, Customer Effort Score. Life is simpler than fudging over abstracted aggregated metrics to fit the desires of the executive dashboard: although I will admit to a liking for dissatisfaction as a singular measure and some elements of big data.

Instead, understand the core value the customer places on an experience (e.g., for shopping this might be convenience, value for money, ease , pleasantness) and understand the customer narratives and actions that surround these values.

I signpost vector measures such as SenseMaker (source: Cognitive Edge) for this purpose (subject to a future blog) and new KPIs such as Goodwill (source: Sir Intel).

Open up conversation with voice of relationship measures that surface innovations. I signpost R-intervention techniques (subject to a future blog, source: Sir Intel and Value Genie).

Convert insights into ideas using the language of your build teams i.e., simple to understand and shareable user stories and epics put directly into Jira (et al i.e., co-creation platforms) and integrated into your teams existing processes

All this data from stakeholders is of course worthless unless it is value tracked as innovations (your user stories) through a co-creation platform which engages continuous improvement activity on the ground.

A word of warning: Agile processes are overly focused on mechanical functionality, so these must be amended to consider psychological processes (see Cynefin which is a default Agile framework).

(I also think you could act leaner, a line in excel saves time over endless user story building: we all know what we mean, share the excel and discuss).

Build the energy in your organisation to co-create. This means executive engagement and establishing cross-silo ways of working (and I don't mean just putting a Yammer platform in place).

No executive support, no customer experience management. So ask the question, what keeps the C-suite awake at night and demonstrate a co-creation process that delivers to their objective (at least as a starting point).

From the start, any build process must ensure the right compliance processes are in place so the right language is used

So Agile teams must sign up to Cynefin, must sign up to combining Journey mapping efforts with process mapping on a single platform This ensures that any team efforts have customer centricity in the language and in the SLAs.

I signpost these techniques that ensure continuous embedded conversation (all subject to further blogs).

If I was building a bridge then of course we would be talking different more systems thinking approaches. When dealing with the experience the customer has we are talking about something entirely different.

Unless you understand that base point you will never be able to manage 'the experience the customer has' for profit.

Signposted terms:


Vector metrics



Relationship intervention


Co-creation platforms

Drop me a line if you would like more discussion on these topics.

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