Since I returned to F5 last year to build and lead the end-to-end Customer Experience (CX) Program, our business has gone through changes on multiple levels.
Major acquisitions have diversified our product set and introduced new brands into our solutions portfolio. The shift towards software subscriptions and enterprise licence agreements has meant that our customers are experiencing F5 in a different way, altering our relationships with them in turn. And, of course, we have been working through a global pandemic that has turned on its head how almost every one of our customers operate.
Each of these factors has created challenges but also made the work of building a CX program stimulating. Together, they have amounted to an opportunity to reimagine how we build customer relationships, the way we source insights and feedback, and how we leverage new technology to deliver on the promise of customer obsession.
Our work is far from done, but it has come far enough for us to share some important learnings, including how to achieve personalization at scale, engage customers to gain vital feedback, and approach the challenge of unifying a house of brands.
Personalization is one of the big CX buzzwords, and with good reason. There is nothing worse than making a customer feel like they are one of many in a crowded room, rather than an organization with its own specific challenges.
In some ways, it has never been easier to develop a personalized approach to the customer experience. Technology now exists to capture more data and offer unique experiences than ever before. But that does not make it a simple process. For a customer to feel truly valued, their experience has to be individually designed with the end in mind.
Consider the complex question of how to gather the customer feedback and insights necessary to deliver a personalized experience. The paradox of CX is that many customers want a bespoke experience, but are often reluctant to provide the feedback that would help deliver it. Understandably, there is widespread survey fatigue and, when personalization is not used, a tendency to consider requests as unimportant compared to other priorities.
That means CX has to work harder and smarter to get the answers it needs. Where are the key touchpoints along the product journey? Which persona do we contact for feedback and how often do we connect with them? It is crucial to design and optimize the data-gathering process properly, otherwise your quantitative and qualitative feedback will be less effective. A personalized approach is what will yield personalized results.
As we have developed our CX program, one of the most interesting areas has been the question of how to unify a fast-expanding set of brands. In the last three years alone, we have welcomed NGINX, Shape Security and Volterra into the F5 family.
All have their own individual, pre-existing brands. But you can’t provide a unified digital experience with multiple brands speaking in different voices. If you think of the great brand promises, they are singular and clear in a way that leaves no doubt in the customer’s mind. For example, GEICO will save you 15% on your insurance in 15 minutes or Alaska Airlines can have your baggage ready for collection within 20 minutes of getting off the plane.
Our approach is that every customer is an F5 customer, and every experience should be an F5 experience. In this way, we hope to bring together the two sides of great CX: a unified approach so customers know exactly what to expect, and personalized delivery that flexes to their specific requirements and business challenges. By doing that, we hope to reach the end that every CX team aspires to: for customers to know that we are not only listening and responding to their needs, but also regularly anticipating them.