Blog/Digital Transformation/Punk CX: Adrian Swinscoe on Technology and Customer Relationships

Customer thought leader, Adrian Swinscoe, has more than 15 years of expertise consulting, speaking, and writing. His latest book, Punk CX, is a bold attempt to change the traditional customer support corporate mindset. 

The Rise of CX

“We know that customers will both pay for a better service and a better experience. They will also travel for a better service and better experience. That happens not only physically but also digitally as well.” Adrian Swinscoe

CX has recently become a buzzword, a phenomenon that Adrian attributes to the power of choice the internet bestows on modern consumers. “The differences between products and services are narrowing on a daily basis, and that makes the experience stand out as the only sustainable differentiator for businesses.” 

It’s not enough to acknowledge this trend. Adrian stresses, “It’s not enough to simply care about it, you’ve actually got to be willing to do something.”

Tech Shopping Spree

As a response to the growing CX trend, countless tech solutions have sprung up, all promising to help businesses better connect with their customers. Many enterprises have already invested in native apps, chatbots, and AI platforms. 

Adrian notes that unfortunately, companies don’t always have a clear vision when investing in new technology. This lack of strategy is one of the main reasons why up to 70% of CX change initiatives fail. He advises leaders to consider how each new tool aligns with business objectives. 

“You can’t start with technology because it just seems like the right thing to do, but not have an idea of what the goal is. Understand what the problem is and then pack the tools that you need to fix the problem,” he says. 

Keeping Up with the Unicorns

The pressure that drives companies to buy more solutions than necessary is easy to understand. The bar for user-friendly experiences is set very high, thanks to companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple. 

Adrian’s advice is to take a deeper look at the CX strategy of these superstar companies. He points out that renowned brands serve their customers on only a handful of channels. This might be surprising given that “omnichannel” is a ubiquitous buzzword. Most organizations assume adding new channels to the customer service repertoire is always a best practice. 

Adrian explains that a high-quality, connected experience is more important than being available across every type of channel imaginable. Offering fewer customer communications channels can be a winning strategy. 

“If you invest in multiple channels and spread yourself thin, that overall experience will be poor,” says Adrian.

Adapting to the Customer

Deciding whether a new customer support tool or method is worth adding to your existing customer experience is hard. Becoming an early adopter involves taking a risk. In these dilemmas, a customer-first mentality should be your guide. 

“Start by evaluating your current suite of solutions, then adapt and experiment. If something doesn’t work out, have the willingness to walk away.”

The best companies request feedback throughout the process as they try new things and then scale successful programs. Decisions around technology must be driven by outcomes, both for the customer and for businesses.

“I do like very clever bits of technology. But I like when they’re applied in the right sort of way for the right sort of reasons.” Adrian advises that since technology is always changing to keep the customer at the forefront of your mind and choose adaptable CX tools when you can.


Adapting to meet customer needs often involves making support more efficient. For example, 91 percent of customers would use an online knowledgebase if it were available and tailored to their needs. Yet many companies don’t offer such useful self-help tools. 

Begin by listening to customers and understanding the type of queries they have. You might add a new solution. This could be a mobile workflow designed to allow customers to perform simple service tasks on their own. 

Unfortunately, this type of automation can cause worry even as it saves time and money. Agents may be concerned that automated systems will replace their jobs. 

Adrian points out that people in service jobs don’t want to be bored. Nobody does. If you implement solutions that automate low-value work and allow agents to focus on more meaningful conversations, that enriches the employee experience. 

Adrian reminds us that there are still a lot of opportunities for humans. New, automated workflows require design work and a lot of content. “People are fearful of change,” he says, “so you’ve got to help them see that these transitions are about more than just reducing headcount.”

The Human Element

When you introduce new technology, you run the risk of frustrating customers. This can happen when a company overlooks gaps created by the new tool. For instance, a new CX tool might require employee training, supporting content, and ways to connect the new experience into the overall brand. 

Customers may feel the resulting experiences are either confusing or cold and impersonal. It doesn’t help that some companies intentionally make it hard for people to call with questions or problems. This approach isn’t customer-friendly. 

You don’t necessarily need the “human element” at every stage of the customer journey, but as Adrian phrases it, “you need to inject a bit of human understanding into different stages of the journey.” Some points are critical. Companies should make an effort to understand exactly when and how customers need help.

The Heart of CX

In closing, Adrian reminds us that CX is not about technology because technology will keep changing. “It’s about delivering outcomes, delivering what people need. It’s a human-to-human thing. We have to think about what sort of relationship we want to have with our customers.”

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