In Customer Experience, Bigger isn’t Better; Better is Better

December 4th, 2017


For far too long companies have focused on size. More profits. More subscribers. More customers. More leads in the funnel. Bigger, so the establishment believes, is better.

I invite you to challenge that thinking for a moment. What if better were truly better?

Charles Kuralt famously said, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.” He was right about Interstates, and if asked about business today, he might say, “Today, it is now possible to do business end-to-end without seeing or speaking to another human.” In many respects, technology has removed humanity from business and customer experience.

I believe the most successful companies are those who embrace technology without losing humanity. Those who do so don’t become bigger, rather they become better at scale.

What might sound like a play on words is a significant difference. If you focus on becoming bigger, you’re looking at numbers as numbers. How can we add more profits, leads or subscribers at any cost? On the contrary, if you’re seeking to become better at scale, you look for ways you can support a human experience for a larger number of people. Therefore, I believe the most significant misuse of technology today is focusing on growing bigger, and not on scaling the human experience.

Customer support is a great example of this shift. Fifty years ago, if you had a problem with a product, you could return to the store where you made the purchase. The merchant, often the owner, would greet you by name and would make an effort to solve your problem. The entire experience would be focused on you. As technology came to help at customer service, we added phone systems, online help and other attempts at self-service. And as we added more technology, we subtracted the humanity. Don’t get me wrong, self-service can be gratifying, but with many companies, finding a human when you need one is nearly impossible.

An Example of Humanized Customer Experience Technology

Some of the world’s best technology companies get this and they look for ways to build humanity into their technology. Let’s look at Amazon’s offerings.

  1. They provide a personalized experience. will show you products similar to the ones you’ve purchased before acting as a virtual shopkeeper who knows exactly what you need.
  2. They work with you on your terms. From mobile apps and Dash buttons to Amazon Prime and subscription services, you’re in control of how you want to buy.
  3. They’re excellent when you need help. Amazon’s phone support is one of the best. And their Mayday Button for the Fire Tablet takes it to the next level. When you press the button, you’re connected to an advisor via video chat within 15 seconds of calling.

See how the Mayday Button works:

As one of the world’s largest technology companies, Amazon understands bigger isn’t better. They focus on being better at scale.

If you ask a room full of technologists how to reach as many people as possible, you’ll get a bigger solution. If you ask them how to translate a face-to-face help session into an on-demand experience, you’ll get a better solution. An idea like the Mayday Button doesn’t come from thinking bigger, it comes from thinking better.

What will you do to make your business better at scale?


About the Author

Evan Carroll, IBM Futurist, and veteran SXSW speaker, visited AMAWM to show how companies are using info-sense (that’s data, analytics, and technology) to create world-class customer experiences. Using examples from leading B2B and B2C companies, Evan gave attendees a full toolbox of strategies, tactics, and practical advice to improve their customer experiences and ultimately their bottom lines.

Evan’s career spans roles in user experience, marketing, and product management for leading agencies and technology companies, including IBM, Ketchum, and ChannelAdvisor. He’s an author of 2 technology books and co-author of another.  He has spoken for major events, corporations, and associations including IBM, SXSW, Citrix, the AMA, and more.