What is it and why is it important?
Your customer experience is everything your customer experiences with your organisation and brand. That may sound obvious, but for some organisations, the customer experience is focussed on customer service where the front-line and your customers meet, face-to-face, on the phone or over chat, not end-to-end. For others, it’s about the experience they design and have control over within the organisation, not what the customer experiences within and outside the organisation.
The customer experience starts from the first advertisement they see or recommendation they hear from your brand… through search and research, digging deeper to narrow their choice from peer reviews, features and benefits, price, selection and purchase of the product and/or service itself, the website or in-store experience… it continues with delivery, opening the package and preparing it for use… to usage, positive reinforcement or buyers’ remorse… to signing up for and receiving the first e-news, following your social media pages and engaging with posts (all which may start before purchase!)… learning to use it, watching some youtube videos or a webinar… to returning the product because it didn’t fit… leaving a review, filling in a feedback form, calling customer service for help or to make a complaint…to thinking about buying more or trying something else in the range, getting it serviced or buying the next level up… to buying it or recommending it for your family and friends.
Every aspect of your product and service, price and place, promotion, people and process are part of the customer experience. Every customer experience is judged against the brand promise and reinforces or detracts from the brand. The brand advertising said it was friendly, open and approachable and its identity looks friendly open and approachable, but I couldn’t find it on the shelf, the person who served me was rude, the packaging was hard to open, the product was confusing to understand and use, by the time I paid for all the necessary “extras” the price was twice the amount advertised. Do you think that customer is going to buy from you? No.
Whilst we could identify every experience in the customer journey and perfect it, customer experience research indicates that after a certain level of delivery, very little gain is had. Seamless, frictionless experiences sound great but there are cases when little bit of friction may be a good thing. Think of the Ikea store experience that enables you to gather more inspiration (and buy more stuff!) and the making experience that adds value to the product.
There is a need to prioritise which experiences matter the most and deliver those well, identifying the greatest pain points and finding a solution. This is where the innovation process comes in.
These principles form the customer experience strategy.
How we go about it
The earlier section on audience profiles and journey mapping (link) addresses the start-point for customer experience and innovation.
Once we have the audience profiles and journey maps, we can identify the moments that matter, specific pain points and pleasure points along the journey for each customer.
The customer level pain points are then grouped where they are similar for all customers, identifying areas where specific experiences need to be developed for specific segments.
We also look at opportunities to group pain points. For example, being passed from pillar to post is a pain point that arises on the phone or in branch, across credit cards, accounts and loans. By grouping these, we can seek one initiative.
We go through a phase of ideation and innovation, bringing in examples from around the world and creative exercises to think outside what’s been done before.
The innovation process takes over to develop experience ideas that deliver what the customer against the brand promise:
Customer Experience = Employee Experience or CX = EX
Once the customer experience has been defined, it is important to align the employee experience at each point, to ensure that employees have the behaviours, tools, training and support to deliver the desired customer experience.
Using the pain point example above of being passed from pillar to post, once of the employee issues sitting behind this is a lack of accountability and decision-making authority. Employees needed training on the decisions they could make versus those they had to take to their manager; they needed the administration processes (forms etc) to support that behaviour; and they needed leadership empowerment to leave them to make the decisions versus micro-managing.
Please contact us to discuss further what we can do for you.