smith+co on
customer experience
Shaun Smith
  • By Shaun Smith
  • Mar 29 2016

CX By Numbers

When content isn't king...

I wrote a blog last week arguing that we are dumbing down marketing in the rush to create digital content. This seems to have struck a chord because I have had many people retweet and favourite it. Little did I know that I would personally experience a perfect example of this just a few days later.

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things” Winston Churchill

Nowadays, wannabe brand agencies and tech companies often claim they have expertise in ‘customer experience’ and, even if they haven’t, they act like they have. Customer Experience is now used, like many other corporate terms, by consultants wishing to sound more clued-up than they actually are. So their solution is to cut and paste content from various sources and then offer this on their own web site in the hope that the credibility will ‘rub off’.

Last week, one company, which describes themselves as ‘Customer Intelligence Consultants’ posted an article on their website that was a mash-up of content from various sources. I found out about it because one of my followers tweeted me to draw my attention to the fact that it referenced Smith+Co.

The article curates content from a number of sources and authors, (a few of which I rate highly). However, all the content was chosen on the principle of ‘x steps to success’ and had been copied from all over the web from a variety of sources, some credible, some not. Unable to resist commenting on the article, I posted this in the section that invited responses:

“I applaud your effort to curate ideas but I despair at reducing everything to a cook-book approach – 5 steps to success etc. Customer experience should be simple, not simplistic. Is our attention span now so short that we have to have important concepts served up in bite sized chunks? I have used steps to summarise a logical approach in each of my five books but without the narrative that goes before, it runs the risk of becoming a tick-box exercise that is the enemy of creating a truly world-class customer experience.”

I was expecting to be challenged. I was expecting heated debate. I was expecting an honest and much-needed conversation about how we really inspire brands to embark on customer experience initiative. Guess how the brand concerned responded to my challenge. Go on, have a guess.

They deleted my post. They deleted the only provocation in the comments section. Forgive me for turning up the grandiose dials here, but I think Winston Churchill put it best when he said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Far from stimulating debate about an important subject like Customer Experience, brands like this one are closing the conversation down to ‘likes’ or reducing it to banal sound-bites. Let me be clear here, a simple and digestible approach to customer experience is desirable and helpful. In fact we have a CX Seven-Step Guide on our own website but it is backed up by a rich toolkit. One of my articles written for CustomerThink.com was called, “Customer Experience Management: 10 Best Practices to Create Real Business Value” However, those ten practices were based on some rigorous original quantitative research. That article was one of the most highly rated on customerThink and has been read 21,000 times.

So what’s the ‘So what’?

The Internet is no longer a novelty. Nobody is wowed by words on a web page purely because they happen to exist in a digital format anymore. Business leaders, entrepreneurs and CX executives want fresh ideas, intellectual debate and rich learning they can actually apply to their professional efforts so you have to add value through original content. Websites that only offer repurposed content are literally bluffing their way to the front of the queue. They post other people’s work in the hope that some of the credibility will rub off. It rarely does.