15 Oct 2015

Mont Blanc. Customer Experience.Same thing.

Some time in August this year the Google Doodle commemorated the 229th ascent of Mont Blanc. And here I quote:

“Capped by snow and shrouded in mist sits Mont Blanc, the highest point in the Alps. Its summit, forever white, towers 15,000+ feet above Europe’s sea level. Lord Byron called it “the monarch of mountains.” And for centuries, no human had ever reached its peak.

Until 1786. That year, armed only with alpenstocks and measuring equipment (the trek was for scientific purposes), Frenchmen Michel Gabriel Paccard and Jacques Balmat set foot at the top.

Now, 229 years later, thousands of hopeful hikers annually descend upon the Alpine towns of Chamonix, Saint-Gervais, and Courmayeur to recreate this exceptional feat, and take in this incredible view.

So what has this got to do with Customer Experience?
Three things clearly. And I’ll mention this as the story goes along. The story of the first ascent is interesting.(You can read it in greater detail in the link below) In a nutshell, the first ascent was actually what can be called in today’s world a ‘sponsored event‘.
1. Customer Experience Management needs an obsessive sponsor As one of the highest peaks in the Alps the Mont Blanc had as much fascinated the 18th Century world as challenged it. Of these, one of the most obsessed was Horace-Bénédict de Saussure. Knowing he’d not be able to scale the daunting heights, he offered a reward to whoever did it. That made a crystal  and chamois hunter come forward. Armed with grit, a dream and a doctor, (and the promise of a reward) Jacques Balmat and Dr Michel Paccard conquered the peak on that historic day.
Customer Experience is somewhat like that peak – elusive, daunting, difficult. And unless someone in the organisation is obsessive about making it work, sponsoring it and of course, rewarding it, it is likely to get lost in one of those experimentation bids that get lose steam in many an organisational tangle of red tape and ROI charts. But get a CXO-level sponsor who believes in the merit of investing not just time and money but also a high level of involvement and interest and it’s bound to succeed.
2. It’s a challenge but it’s not impossible It’s not like Balmat got it right on Day One. It was also serendipity that he met Dr Michel Paccard. And even with him they had to turn back after almost reaching there due to bad weather.
You need all that for your Customer Experience programme to succeed. Is your Customer Experience team ready to weather the storms of criticism and discontent that stems from not getting it right the first time? Are they willing to learn from their mistakes? Are they willing to team up with those who are not just like-minded but also bring their own set of capabilities to the table to make a success of it? If yes, the rewards that lie in wait are many and continue to delight every time. And if the rewards make a Ka-ching sound, don’t be surprised.
3. Customer Experience is an ongoing journey If you’ve read Balmat’s story, you know that after his first ascent, he never stopped climbing. For him that was more of a beginning and not an end. So is a successfully driven Customer Experience Programme. An ongoing, constantly evolving programme that continuously reinvents itself and reaches one peak after another. And for this subsequent scaling of peaks, every ascent offers its own reward.
So where are you with your Mont Blanc? Have you found your Balmat yet?
Read Balmat’s story here: The Story behind the first ascent