The journey to building real customer experiences
Customer experience does not only represent individual transactions with an organization focused on key points or during critical moments, but it is also the entire journey a customer goes through with a company, which results in a feeling of relationship or a lack of it.
Nowadays, consumers are empowered to engage with businesses through multiple devices and interaction channels. In order to stay atop the competition, companies should focus on delivering complete and memorable journeys.
According to Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan and Conor Jones’ article entitled “The Truth about customer experience”, published in Harvard Business Review, delivering customers journeys represents a complex process which involves the entire organization, following four steps:
- Identifying the key journeys;
- Understanding their performance;
- Building cross-functional procedures to redesign and sustain these journeys;
- Instituting cultural change and continuous improvement to sustain initiatives.
Identifying key journeys
Companies should define the most relevant journeys that matter for the business and should build a detailed roadmap for each of them, by describing the whole process. This approach may reveal various weaknesses found in the processes which, in some cases, can damage customers’ experience.
Understanding current performance
Even though a company received millions of calls regarding a product and afterwards handled them in an exemplary way, it is still not enough. The company must root the causes of all these calls.
A deep analysis would allow the company to follow the steps taken by a customer and reproduce the more or less ideal experiences. Therefore, revealing the processes that generate adverse results than those expected improves not only the overall business’ processes, but also its productivity.
After having identified the main journeys and understood what is not working, it is recommended to get cross-functional teams together to measure problems by themselves and participate in designing a solution for improvement.
Leaders should not rush in dictating solutions, or ask for opinions from outside experts, because usually issues result from inside cross-functional disconnections which can be better identified and handled by those directly involved in processes.
It can be challenging to redesign service processes and implement changes across the organization. There are 2 perspectives which sustain improvement:
- Reshaping the organization and its processes to deliver great journeys;
- Calibrating metrics and incentives to sustain the journeys.
The action which supports these 2 perspectives should establish a clear ownership of tasks, and authority and performance expectations from the persons involved in the redesign of the organization.
Furthermore, the appropriate incentives, metrics and measurement systems should also be identified. The whole company must embrace this culture of change and move the focus from typical touch-points, to offering relevant and memorable customer experiences.
Hanna Johnson, in her article entitled “5 Qualities of a Customer-Centric Company,” reveals 5 main aspects companies should take into consideration when deciding to become customer focused.
1) The most relevant one is to be Accessible. Customers must have the possibility to connect with a company whenever and wherever they want in a friendly, easy and transparent way.
2) By having access to so many communication channels, customers expect from companies a higher and quicker Responsiveness rate. Technology and ultimate devices launched to facilitate access to knowledge should not replace the human perspective in the interaction between customers and businesses.
3) Customer Service representatives must show Empathy and understanding to keep customers loyal to the company.
4) Cohesion in internal communication should also be taken into consideration when deciding to adopt a customer-centric attitude. In this way customers will get fast and truthful information when contacting a company.
5) Allowing customers to show a Nimble spirit in providing feedback, criticism and ideas for improvement is another aspect which should not be neglected. Customers should be involved in the organizational redesign as, after all, their voice is the one that guides the business.
Creating an organizational culture oriented on customer journey is a strategic goal which requires time, engagement of employees from top to bottom, and desire to innovate and continually improve. The reward is translated in customers’ and employees’ satisfaction, increased revenue, lower costs and competitive advantage.