Jonathan Counts’ career is punctuated by product management, technology, mobile, and customer experience. Prior to joining Strong-Bridge, he worked with brands like Microsoft and T-Mobile on a number of projects, many focused on innovation. Later, he transitioned to consulting where he continues his work in telecom with an expansion into customer experience. Jonathan is widely respected for his focus on the customer and his ability to unite people toward a common goal.
In fact, human connection is a common thread in Jonathan’s life, both in and out of the workplace. He is an avid traveler whose favorite way to experience a new city is by exploring their food scene— tasting the culture of the city and meeting locals who impart their passion for where they live. He’s also an avid guitar player who routinely plays shows. His favorite aspect of being on stage is making a connection with the audience through his music.
We recently sat down to ask Jonathan his thoughts on mobile, millennials, and the challenges faced by business today.
1.WHAT TRENDS DO YOU SEE HAPPENING ACROSS INDUSTRIES RIGHT NOW?
The omni-channel customer experience. It transcends industries. The challenges and opportunities are in many ways universal. Millennials have brought about a need for “now”— for getting information, access, and things now. With that comes an expectation that a brand should know all interactions their customers have had with them regardless of channel, be it in-store, call center, digital, or something else. And, acknowledge that experience by making it personalized in some way. All of this is a challenge for companies regardless of size or industry.
2. HOW DO YOU THINK CHANGING BEHAVIOR IS AFFECTING MOBILE?
It is an arms race in terms of data. Here’s what I mean by that — more and more wireless competitors have caught up to the largest carrier’s network footprint. Right now, phone use by consumers (funny we still call them phones when we rarely use them for calls) is dominated by data — watching Netflix and YouTube, using Snapchat and Facebook, Facetime-ing and Hangouts. Even Apple iMessage is a data play. It is data that’s shaping the way price plans and services are marketed to consumers. We’ve seen the reintroduction of unlimited plans at all wireless carriers recently because customers are so data hungry.
3. HOW DO YOU MOVE MORE QUICKLY WITH CX IF YOU’RE A LARGE COMPANY?
It can be tough for large organizations to move fast. It’s also very common for organizations of all sizes to get caught up in a “keeping up with the Jones’s” mindset, moving too quickly to purchase large technology solutions in an attempt to solve customer experience pain points. Digital is an incredibly important channel (especially to millennials), but it’s not the only one. I would advise that large companies step back, and develop a solid strategy before allocating dollars. Large organizations would be wise to evaluate omni-channel customer journeys to ensure the experience is cohesive across touchpoints. They should ask themselves if their org-chart and delivery processes facilitate communication between all customer-facing channels. Many customer experience problems could be solved through better internal communication and planning. Plus, Customer Experience is often brought to life by business process and technology, so those areas need to be in sync for a company to move as fast as possible.
4. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST WORD OF ADVICE FOR COMPANIES TACKLING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?
Identify a customer champion who can get work done across organizations within the company. Because many companies are organized traditionally, especially large corporations, the natural result is silos— CIOs are tech-focused, CMOs are marketing-focused, and so on. Keep in mind, this is not a bad thing, but the experiences and services delivered across these silos should be seamless to the customer. A customer champion will work on behalf of the customer, thinking about the experience from tip to tail, and rally people to solve cross-organizational problems together with a focus on a holistic solution that helps their company invest in the right places.
5. WHAT DO YOU GET MOST EXCITED ABOUT IN YOUR CAREER?
I love walking my clients through a framework that helps them understand their customer. It’s a really good feeling to see that lightbulb go off. It’s a tangible moment, and it catches like wildfire. One person has that moment, and it spreads through the room. When we build a journey map, you can often see customer champions being made. While I always say an organization needs a customer champion as a driver, it’s even better when a room full of people connect with the idea and share it.