Customer experience - the market you aren't hearing about

After 20 years launching companies and markets in the tech b-to-b space, it's tempting to wonder "What's new?"

After 20 years launching companies and markets in the tech b-to-b space, it's tempting to wonder "What's new?"  I'm as passionate about security and supply chain as ever, but in the past eight months, we've been dancing with a just-getting-off-the-ground sector. Let's call it customer experience.

I like it even though  – and precisely because – a lot of people do a quick mental "oh yeah" and then a little more puzzled when I mention it.  That tells me we're on the leading edge of something exciting – a place that always gets me jazzed.  [clever and funny, but necessary?]

Customer experience. No fancy acronyms. No geek-inspired nomenclature to keep the non-informed out. It just does what it says, which happens to be something just about every company could do a lot more of:  making the customer's experience effective, attractive, and good enough to come back.  One of our clients, ClickFox, is rocking the house in telecom by helping these giants finally connect the silos that separate customers from satisfaction – and presumably, spending more money with their providers. ClickSoftware tackles it from a different side -- making sure that customers are more-than-satisfied when they need a service call (an inherent contradiction – but still, the point at which most customers are likely to have human contact with the company whose products they use.)

For ever-confident tech industry, it's always amusing, or frustrating, when companies wait for Gartner to anoint a market with Magic Quadrant. By then, of course, it's too late: sales have hit the $100 million mark, and the once-new companies are now defined as market leaders, or losers.

So forget about what everyone else says, and just look around. Customer experience is everywhere. How was your last call to a cell phone company? How about Target? Or Home Depot? Or your last online shopping experience, especially when you had to return the product? Could they connect the dots? Did it take five times longer than it should have?

That, my friend, is the new opportunity. For all of us. We're all consumers. And we just want a little more satisfaction. A few companies out there are going to give it to us. Nicely. And create a big market before anyone notices.

Amy Bermar is president of Corporate Ink.

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