Advisor in Customer Experience and Service Operations

Do I need a think-tank or a do-tank?

What technology and tools are needed to meet customer experience needs

Google “Customer Experience Consulting” and prepare yourself. 380 million responses! Louis Dupé, one of the founders of Customer Driven was asked how customers should navigate this avalanche of information. His answer? It comes down to if they need a think-tank or a do-tank. Let us explain.

Customer Experience (CX) Management

The concept of “Customer Experience Management” has been around for a long time. Depending on where you look – from around the mid ’90s. But what was traditionally a topic of conversation within the call centre, has broadened as the digital transformation of the customer interaction gathers pace.

Now it’s everywhere. Everything connects to CX in some way, shape or form. That’s what generates 380 million Google responses.

One of the challenges our clients face is how to make sense of the different players and propositions.

Louis has a simple way of describing it for his clients:

“Customer Experience Management has been around forever, and back in the mid 90’s it was a simple proposition – know what your customer’s needs and expectations of your service are, and build your service to meet or exceed those expectations. I think this approach is enduring through generations and omnichannel services of today, but I
think many try to overcomplicate with concepts such as large NPS programs that spend money and resources without necessarily changing the experience to meet or exceed customer’s needs and expectations.

To build the future state service requires finding the right ratio of effort and money in researching customer needs and expectations of the service. And we often see the market for external help with this, falling into one of three categories:”


Traditional management consultants and/or universities or other educators (The ACADEMICS). They separate the “thinking” task from the execution task. They’ll help you with your strategy, but the job of executing it is yours.


Tend to “hop in the trenches with you” as a way of delivering value (the PRACTITIONERS). They see strategy as more fluid and emergent. Strategy and execution can’t be decoupled, as they both influence one another.


Want you to see their software as “core” to what you do. They know you’ve got a strategy and want you to think their toolset is central to how you execute on it.

Louis was really quick to point out that there is no right or wrong here. Each of these approaches has its merits.
In his experience (25 years in the game) it all boils down to one critical question.

How confident are you in technology’s ability to predict the desired future state?

“Often technology is presented as the Silver Bullet to operational and customer experience problems, when in fact it is the tool required to facilitate the solution, not a solution in its own right.

I had a great leader and mentor, who was one of Australia’s best CEOs, who used to say that the order of things is strategy, followed by people/organisation, followed by process and then technology. Whilst technology will be informed by strategy, it can only be selected and leveraged if people aspects and process requirements- also informed by strategy, are well developed.

Additionally, we often see technology selected and deployed in organisations with only a fraction of its capability leveraged, as the organisational capability of people and process maturity has not been sufficiently developed.”

Planning First

If you are confident you know what the future state’s going to look like – then the job is about quality decision making in advance. It’s about predicting and planning, and then doing. If this is your world, then the think-tanks are great.

Executing First

Suppose you’re less confident, or you are worried that, with all the moving parts, it might change – then the job is about engaging an organisation that has the hands-on operational experience to help seamlessly implement your strategy while anticipating challenges based on their previous experience. Decision velocity is critical, it’s about sensing and responding, and then repeating the process. The “doing” is an integrated way of making and delivering the strategy on the go. If this is your world, then you need practitioners to come in and help you on the tools – a do-tank.

Toolset First

And lastly, irrespective of your confidence level, you’ve made the decision that it’s about the tools first. You might have a spaghetti of legacy problems so bad that you need to take the nuclear option and start again or you simply don’t have the technology required to service your customers. If this is your world – choose a vendor to go on the journey with*. But be careful to ensure that they can provide the support to optimise the technology aligned to your specific business problem and can do this in a seamless manner minimising any customer impact.

There you go, a simple way of making sense of a complex landscape.

*Having had to deal with the implications of this approach recently, watch for vendor lock-in. As the client put it – “I thought they were providing the key… I didn’t know I was actually handing over my wallet”.