The emotional component of customer experience: the next competitive battleground – Interview with Qaalfa Dibeehi of Beyond Philosophy

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Following hot on the heels from, Great customer service and customer experience requires emotional intelligence – Interview with Jo Causon of The Institute of Customer Service, today I am excited to introduce you to Qaalfa Dibeehi, chief operating and consulting officer of Beyond Philosophy™, a pioneering global customer experience consultancy with offices in London and Atlanta.

This interview makes up number eighteen in the series of interviews with business leaders in the ‘customer’ space, leading authors, thought leaders and general all round good guys and gals, that I think that you will find interesting and helpful in growing your businesses.

I’ve followed Beyond Philosophy™ for a while now so I was excited when I reached out on Twitter (that social network again!) and Qaalfa if he’d be up for an interview on the blog. When he agreed, I was thrilled and Qaalfa didn’t disappoint.

Below are some highlights from our interview:

  • Beyond Philosophy’s™work focuses on board level, CEO, CFO and CMO level in helping companies build great customer experiences.
  • They do 3 things:
    • Strategic guidance – here are the thoughts and here is the design
    • Education – design the programme and the modules and train the trainers
    • Customised research – when the solution requires a different approach and techniques than a normal research house would use
  • The rise in customer centricity is being driven by competition. Most products and services are now very similar and competing on the experience is the next/new competitive frontier
  • Customer experience is like an iceberg. It has two elements. One above the surface….the physical, rational part and one below the surface ….the emotional part
  • Everything that a business does has some rational components to it and some emotional components to it
  • Businesses have max-ed out on the rational experience that they can deliver and now need to focus on the emotional elements in order to drive loyalty, retention and cross and up sell opportunities
  • Beyond Philosophy is applying science to the art of emotional experience and engagement and quantifying emotional experience and engagement
  • To generate change in customer centric thinking and activity, making the economic argument is key so that businesses can make the links and understand how emotional engagement and experience directly affects the bottom line
  • Customer engagement and employee engagement are fraternal twins
  • Literally, employees deliver the customer experience…they design it, they build it, they deliver it
  • Doing everything you can to make customers happy is wrong and is a fallacy of customer experience and customer service
  • Think of a joined up organisation and customer experience where your customer experience is a pipeline and each department represents a section of the pipe. If the departments are not aligned then you get leaks. As the customer goes through this pipe they feel the leaks. Some of them they see, feel and care about and some of them they don’t
  • However, customers are also recognising that the ‘leaks’ are not solely the responsibility of the person in front of them but understand that there is a bigger policy or process issue. Customers are much smarter than many organisations give them credit for.
  • Wrote a recent complaints handling vs complaints outcomes recent whitepaper (available here), where they found that complaints handling is more important than the actual outcome and that if a customer has to put in a lot of effort to chase the complaint then their propensity towards making future complaints goes skyward
  • Qaalfa lists his top priorities for creating a customer centric business as:
    • One, define the experience that you want your customers to have and what are the rational and emotional components. In short, define what your ‘North’ is.
    • Two, have someone with the responsibility and the authority to make sure that that experience is delivered with all of its elements across the organisation
    • Third, decide what are your metrics to measure progress towards achieving that experience both global like NPS, CSat etc or local that get at a particular issue

Customer experience is new and is ever changing

Qaalfa Dibeehi

About Qaalfa (taken from the Beyond Philosophy bio page)

Qaalfa Dibeehi is chief operating and consulting officer of Beyond Philosophy™, a pioneering global customer experience consultancy with offices in London and Atlanta.

Qaalfa is a customer-centric business transformation specialist with more than 20 years of expertise in the customer experience space, which have earned him numerous industry accolades. He is a sought-after confidant of board level executives in a variety of industries ranging from pharmaceuticals, telecommunication to financial services, non-profits to healthcare. He is particularly adept at the peculiarities of customer strategy in developing markets and geographies. In addition, he helped develop an assessment tool that won the 2003 CRM Innovation of the Year award.

Focusing on helping organizations balance their commercial and service obligations, Qaalfa has held senior consumer and strategic consulting roles with a variety of organizations, including Fulcrum Analytics, Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals and Citibank. Earlier, he worked for the city of New York, where he oversaw medical, physical and psychological occupational health standards. Qaalfa started his career as a research neuroscientist.

Demonstrating a strong desire to share his knowledge, Qaalfa has been a university professor and a keynote speaker at various conferences and industry events. A leading customer experience expert, Qaalfa co-authored Beyond Philosophy’s most recent international business bestseller, Customer Experience: Future Trends and Insights (2010) and contributed to the company’s prior book: The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value (2007). He has also been quoted in international media and has authored a variety articles, including of white papers, magazine and journal articles.

Qaalfa holds an MBA in international business and management from New York University and Master’s Degrees in statistics, psychology and health administration from the City University of New York.

True to his trans-Saharan ancestry (nomadic), Qaalfa is a global traveller who has lived and worked in three of the world’s great cities: New York, Tokyo and London.

If you want to to talk to Qaalfa on anything you’ve read, you can connect with Beyond Philosophy on Twitter (@BeyondP), LinkedIn (Beyond Philosophy’s Company Profile), check out their blog here or connect Qaalfa, himself, on Twitter (@QaalfaDibeehi).

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