A Force Awakens: What Star Wars Can Teach us About Customer Experience

It’s that magical time of year. Great sums of people waiting in line with anticipation. There is a child-like twinkle in every eye. And there are those focusing on the commercialization of this event, saying it undermines the intended message and purity.

No, I’m not talking about Christmas or the holiday season. I am talking about the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is the latest (and seventh) installment of the Star Wars franchise, and one that I have waited with great anticipation for a long time. There are so many iconic quotes that come from this franchise that fans use in their daily life, myself included. Specifically, the lessons that Star Wars has taught us about Customer Experience since it was first released in 1977.

Here are nine quotes that the nine-episode saga (that’s right, there are two more films coming out – YES!) teach us about Customer Experience:

“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view.” – Obi-wan Kenobi, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Truly great customer experience starts with a fundamental mind shift of an organization: from an “inside-out” perspective to an “outside-in” perspective. This includes making key business decisions and prioritization of key resources with the customer in mind – what’s best for the customer vs. what’s best for the company. While it is not feasible to make every decision based on the customer, it is important that their point of view is considered and the questions are asked, including “how will this affect our customers?”

“Do or Do Not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

A true classic. And just as Master Yoda states, there is no “trying” at Customer Experience. If an organization half-heartedly attempts to make changes in the name of Customer Experience, this can actually lead to negative experiences through confusion and inconsistency. This is true for both of your customers, external and internal (employees). To ensure that you are “doing”, and not “trying”, it is important to know exactly where you are going and how to get there. Do this by defining your organization’s “north star” and the steps required to get there through a Customer Experience (CX) Roadmap.

“Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.” – Obi-wan Kenobi, Episode IV: A New Hope

An organization may want to be a truly customer-centric organization (i.e. putting the customer at the center of your business), but many do it based on their own observations. Tools like customer journey maps and personas are wonderful tools that everyone should employ to help understand the customer’s emotions through experiences with your organization. However, these tools should be built or validated directly with customers and their feedback to ensure that what is documented truly represents the customer, and not the organization’s thoughts about the customer.

“Stay on target.” – Red Leader, Episode IV: A New Hope

How does an organization know that it is successful, or is set-up to successfully achieve its long-term vision? Key metrics need to be determined to ensure that the CX roadmap laid out is progressing toward the organization’s “north star.” Having these metrics will identify any adjustments needed, and should be provided to all employees to ensure transparency and gain continued buy-in across the organization.

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” – Yoda, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

It doesn’t matter the size of your organization. Big or small, any organization will benefit by putting the customer at the center of its business. This is especially true for small businesses. A poor experience or an amazing customer experience can have a much larger impact on the bottom line than with a larger organizations. These businesses often require word-of-mouth (or peer-to-peer) recommendations, and have much smaller marketing/advertising/branding budget to overcome a negative experience, putting their business at risk of losing a customer. A positive customer experience is important regardless of how big or small your organization is.

“If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.” – Darth Vader, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

There are a number of studies showing a correlation between the success of organizations that focus on customer experience, specifically empathy for their customers. In putting together the 2014 Customer Experience Index (CXi), Forrester used 15 years of customer experience research to create a framework that outlines 40 essential practices across six disciplines: Strategy, Customer understanding, Design, Measurement, Governance, Culture. The CXi found that the companies identified as “leaders” had a cumulative 43% gain in performance over a six-year period (2007 to 2012), compared with a 14.5% increase for the S&P 500 Index, and a 33.9% decrease for a portfolio of customer experience lagards.

Another study reported on by Harvard Business Review from Lady Geek (a consultancy based in London), demonstrated a direct link between empathy and business success. In putting together the “Lady Geek Empathy Index,” they found that the Top 10 companies in the index increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings. The list includes companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Tesla Motors, and Apple.

Bottom line: Businesses that adopt a customer-centric culture and mindset are more successful long-term than those who do not.

“Always remember, Your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-gon Jinn, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Why is it so important to put the customer at the heart of a company? Why should each decision made or resource placed take the customer into account? For the simple reason explained in this quote. By focusing on the customer, it ultimately becomes the reality. By asking questions like “How is this good for the customer?”, “What will they experience?”, and others, it helps to re-enforce the focus on the customer, making it second-nature for your organization.

“Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.” – Han Solo, Episode IV: A New Hope

You’ve decided to become a “customer-centric” organization, making customer experience not just a buzzword, but a mantra within your organization. Congrats! You’ve even put together personas, journey maps, and metrics. That’s awesome! Guess what, Han Solo is right. While this is extremely exciting and should be celebrated, customer experience is not a destination. It is truly a journey. And one that requires continuous improvement. As an organization, you must use metrics to validate your overall CX roadmap and your journey towards that “north star” knowing that the journey is not going to be a straight line, but rather, a winding and unpredictable path. Ensuring you have the tools and mindset needed to continually improve the customer experience is a must. Customer experience is not a one-time win, but something you have to tweak and make improvements on to remain great.

“Now, be brave and don’t look back. Don’t look back.” – Shmi Skywalker, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Operationalizing your customer experience is, at the end of the day, an organizational change management initiative. A massive, galaxy-sized initiative. Shifting an entire organization’s mindset is incredibly complex, and requires constant attention. Change is good, even if it is a tiny step at a time, and must be embraced. Otherwise, you never know what star cruiser you might run into if you’re looking back.

Enjoyed these quotes, I hope you have. May the (Customer Experience) Force be with you!

Phone: 312-602-4000
Email: marketing@westmonroepartners.com
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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