Companies are increasingly focused on delivering exemplary CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE in order to compete.
A Gartner survey found that by 2016 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on customer experience, with 18% of marketing budgets spent on customer experience in 2015. The 2016 Adobe/Econsultancy survey of 7,000 marketers concluded that optimising the Customer Experience was the most exciting opportunity and this was subsequently driving the priority of creation of compelling content for these experiences and data-driven marketing focused on the individual.
But it seems like this is no where near enough. A Bain&Co survey found that 80% of companies believed they were creating a ‘superior experience’, whereas customers put that number at 8%. What is going on, why is the gap so wide, why do companies find it so challenging? Here are a few key reasons. Audit your current customer experience capability. You might be surprised by the gap between your vision and reality.
Those that do achieve the elusive superior experience focus on treating their most profitable customers in ways that ensure they come back for more and they create loyal advocates who tell others. They design the right propositions for the right customers with a culture of customers first.
Final customer vision
Define the customer experience end game. Make it human, write it down as they would describe it. Aim high even if it will take a while to get there (or may never – it’s tough).
Customer Journey Planning
Design positive service experiences without friction to wow the customer. So easily said, not so easily done.
Plan customer purchase & nurture journeys by segment using knowledge about what is most important to them, their goals, needs, behaviours, thoughts and feelings during the journey. Create personas to plan for them and so staff recognise them. Utilise on/offline tracking software, such as telephone tracking, to integrate the online and physical journey.
The majority of the time customer journey planning relates to a task that users need to complete, breaking it into interactions. This article makes a great case for use of this approach and the sound advice to prioritise task based customer journeys that make the most impact on overall customer experience (and hence revenue).
Here are example customer purchase journeys; Request for a proof of age ID document and Rail Europe, the gold standard for a customer purchase and use journey. There are many more examples online and software to create them.
However there are three other additional ways to define CX. Google makes a compelling case for a brand being found and useful at 4 different types of Moments: ‘I want to know’, ‘I want to go’, ‘I want to do’, ‘I want to buy’.
pick the one most suited to the objective:
- Customer Lifespan (measured in decades)
- Customer Brand Lifecycle (measured in years)
- Customer Journey (measured in hours or days)
- Customer Moment (minutes or seconds)
Adopt a customer centric or human-centred design (HCD) approach to product and service design where the designer does not impose their view, rather seeks to listen and understand the needs and feelings of the user and brings them into the design process. Somewhat ironic given that Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships with brands will be managed without talking to a human. So essentially tasks and information are broken down into easy self-service steps always available on any channel, yet needing to be intuitive.
Omni-channel means aligning brand messaging, goals, objectives, and design across each channel and device, and on the user’s terms. It should also mean personalised messaging and/or actions layered on top.
Customers expect you to know them and their previous purchases, how they shopped, what promotions they have been sent or used, what loyalty scheme points they may have, regardless of which device they are on or which shop they are in. They expect to get information, answers, buy, return, refund or complain and get a response real time or if you’re lucky within the hour.
This is increasingly challenging as channels proliferate and customers expectations rise. This will require your online presence to meet the majority of customer’s needs most of the time. Only marketing automation tools can do this at scale, and that can entail use of chat bots or social self service or other software tools that ‘learn’ what users want and can respond using learned intelligence.
There are tools that enable the elusive ‘one customer view’ regardless of channel. In particular within retail there are tools that staff use that blend the on & offline worlds into a seamless experience such as instant stock checking, online ordering of stock from other stores for home or store delivery.
Customer Experience Roadmap
Pull it together into a Customer Experience Roadmap for the organisation to deliver. It will mean changes to people’s skills, processes and technology and KPIs, and working collaboratively on the common goal of improving customer experience.
Communications / Content / Channel Planning
Once each segment’s purchase & nurture journey is defined then overlay the communications channel plan. Only once you know where users connect with the brand or are looking for a solution that you fulfill, will you know where and how to invest to enable their journeys.
A practical guide for a good content plan
Listed here are some of the stated benefits of improvement in Customer Experience, but benefits won’t happen unless they are being measured.
Customer focused metrics are required such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and/or CSAT metrics are common and the best headline measurement. It shouldn’t matter which one is used so long as action is taken to improve on them. The killer question is ‘would you recommend us?’.
Useful sub metrics include; response times, satisfaction after each interaction and a solid understanding of your customer behaviours e.g. repurchase, engagement, leavers etc.
Sources of data & insight used to build Customer Journeys:
- User interactions on your website & apps, using Google Analytics, or clickstream data or modelling to understand journeys and drop-off points
- User/ customer research, online surveys & in-store data
- Customer complaints & pain point analysis
- Interactions on social platforms
- Research influencers
- Competitors’ journeys in particular best practise case studies.