Julien De Visscher is doing something different when it comes to customer experience. Through his company, Human37 – the first customer data strategy agency – he’s bringing people and technology together in a major way.
His overall mission? To help companies offer better UX and customer experience to end users while making data easier to understand.
“I wish the data and technology world was already demystified because we could go so much faster if people were not afraid of asking questions and looking dumb!” he told me in the podcast episode we recorded together.
Here’s how Julien and Human37 break silos and make data less of a hurdle – and how you can do the same thing in your customer experience role.
When the team at Human37 approaches customer experience, they assess it from a slightly different perspective.
“One of the biggest elements that we observed on the market was that there was a big difference between what the brand thought it was delivering as an experience and what the user was getting as an experience,” Julien explains.
As customers, we expect a consistent and coherent experience whatever the touchpoint we’re using to communicate or interact with a brand. But that’s not always what we’re getting, Julien points out. The problem is that companies organise themselves in departments that all have their own visions, processes, projects, technologies and data.
“That creates a lot of problems because no one’s responsible for really looking at the entire customer journey and making sure that whatever is being done to the final user is coherent,” he says.
Today, brands often speak about proposing a personalised experience, Julien explains.
“They say they need to know exactly what their client or customer wants and offer them the next best thing,” he says. “We even hear about how they think they need to go from a descriptive to a predictive approach, while actually, for most companies, especially in Belgium, the foundations are still pretty weak.”
In Julien’s opinion, most brands are not achieving a consistent or coherent customer experience.
Human37’s goal is to help departments at companies sit together, says Julien.
“When we start working directly with clients, this is something that creates a lot of value – bringing everyone around the table and having them discuss what they want to do and be able to also express why it is important in their specific context, whether marketing, operation, customer support or data.”
Making sure that everyone is aligned comes as a second step, Julien says, so identifying the important projects, the priorities, and then understanding what data is important to solve the current challenges that they’re facing and the future challenges or future objectives that they would like to define.
Next comes the reflection around the technologies, because sometimes the company you’re working with has already collected the data you need.
“They’re sitting on a lot of data, but they don’t know what they need to do with that data,” Julien says. “And so we’re trying to make them step back, define the vision, define what it means for them across the board to have a consistent user experience and then see how we can achieve this through data and technology.”
The goal is to succeed in making company staff understand the importance of everyone else, getting them out of their comfort zone, looking at what’s happening outside of their daily operation and getting everyone on the line with a common mission or common goal and making them move forward, says Julien.
“Data and technology – they’re not the end, they’re just a means to get to the end,” he explains. “So, they might be the core of what we are doing, but it all starts with humans.”
Julien points out that some companies already have a chief customer experience officer, but for most, CX is a long journey – especially for older businesses. There’s a legacy, both from a human point of view on just how teams and departments have been organised, and also from a process, technology and data point of view, he explains.
Improving CX can take a lot of time, says Julien. “And I also believe that the bigger the company, the bigger the risk that you try to bring too many people around the table and lose yourself,” he warns.
Human37’s objective is to create value as quickly as possible when they’re hired by an external company to improve the CX.
“We’re not trying to have the best solution ever,” says Julien. “We’re not always looking for perfection. We’re looking to make sure that things move forward. We are trying to create dynamism and movement at company sites.”
The team knows they might not be creating the perfect process or outcome but believe that whatever is created can then be improved or complexified over time to make it better, Julien points out.
Human37 has a very pragmatic approach where they try to “cut the elephant into small pieces” – the elephant being the ideal customer experience – and tackle every single piece one after the other.
Whether they’ve been hired to change a couple of departments or a whole company, the biggest challenge is having everyone aligned around the table and being able to be pragmatic, Julien points out, “to focus on the 80% rather than trying to reach the 100%”.
“We live in a world that evolves so quickly that whatever you create today will probably be obsolete in a few months or years, so let’s focus on just trying to make things move forward and create that dynamism to make sure that people can then embrace a new way of thinking and working as part of their daily routine,” he says.
“Everyone thinks that data and technology are complex. And that you need to know every single solution that exists on the market. But if you lose yourself in that kind of approach, you’re never going to create anything,” Julien warns. “You don’t create any movement and that’s the worst thing that can happen.”
To simplify things, set and define very clearly what you’re trying to achieve and it shouldn’t be too hard to understand rigid data, he advises.
Voila! These are the key takeaways from Julien’s People&Digital episode. For more insights about data and CX, check out the podcast.
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