Delivering a Connected CX
We have the ability to deliver a better CX if we put customers' needs first.
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I had the opportunity to speak with Uri Sarid, CTO, MuleSoft following his keynote on The Future of Service in which he went through what optimized customer experience will look like on 2025 for a family of three going on a three-day weekend getaway.
The premise of Uri's presentation is if you pursue an API-led approach you can focus on customers. The building blocks of customer service experiences are platforms (i.e., computers), interfaces (i.e., Alexa), and AI/ML to recognize patterns in data.
Companies do not try to build it all themselves. They set themselves up to reuse what others are doing and reset consumer expectations.
In 2025, the principles of great customer service are that problems fix themselves, everyone in the company is focused on customer service, and service is the product every company sells to differentiate themselves from the competition.
How it will work is that companies will be connecting a lot of services via environments, clouds, people, and infrastructure. These will be loose connections with composite applications for plug and play. Successful companies will leverage others’ APIs to provide a great customer experience (CX). You will anticipate and fix problems so customers never know something went wrong. When the customer does encounter a bump in the road, the entire company will be the CX department using data and connectivity to offer the next best alternative. When plans need to change, bots will connect the dots, negotiating on the customer's behalf and keeping their personal information private. These bots will become the personal digital assistant for each member of the family.
According to Uri, a key to companies being able to deliver this type of CX is to lower the cost of failure. Take on small projects to improve CX but make sure security has is designed in from the beginning since consumers will not tolerate insecure applications or their personal information being used without their permission. Quality and functionality can be 90% right but security needs to be rock solid. Have an automated security layer after layer, as well as a bounty program to incent people to tell you when they find a vulnerability.
We discussed why people have trouble visualizing the possibility of the future. Uri believes people have an inability to understand network effects -- it’s exponential, not linear. People think linearly not exponentially. Networks effects are much less predictable. You have to get the flywheel right. Google was right to build a better search engine but they were successful because they had the vision to monetize the impression their search engine delivered with a self-serve marketplace for ads.
According to Uri, we're moving into the "coherence economy." We know consumers love experiences and companies are able to deliver experiences through APIs. Each part of the CX can be customized with data for no cost. Today, we have the ability to deliver a custom experience for every consumer at every point in time. Adjust your experience to that point in time to let the customer know you are listening and aware of their needs. Becoming coherent about your customer's needs and wants changes things and differentiates you from your competition. Every API call costs the same so customize every API for the individual. As you do this, a different economy emerges. Concentrate on the basics to deliver a great CX.
What do developers need to keep in mind with regards to APIs today? Think of APIs as a modeling tool for products. Look at your products and capabilities and model capabilities in ways that are optimal for the consumer. Make it easy for the customer to use and find value in your product. Keep it clean and well-modeled. Developers learned how to model in undergrad, apply that to your APIs.
Push your suppliers to model up at the right abstraction level. Suppliers understand business problems better than developers. Get the business requirements then model to test the requirements and test them. Once you do this, implementation will be straightforward.
Lean into the notion of the API as a contract. APIs are a great place to test code. Test against the API to get the customer point of view. Because it’s a contract DevOps knows what to look for. Spend as much time worrying about failure modes as you do thinking about the happy path.
Product managers have been trained to think about UX. With an API you have to think differently. You are only building a building block. Allow everything. Be prepared to handle exceptions. Uber is allowing people to innovate on top of Uber. This resulted in UberEats.
Allow the genie out of the bottle in order for innovation to happen.
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