Your address will show here +12 34 56 78
Customer journey, data, retail, retail customer experience, tech
Alongside KX, Asda, Telefonica (O2) and ResearchBods, we will be presenting at the KX Retail & Consumer Products event in Leeds on Tuesday 7th November. We’ll be talking all about connecting data and insight around the customer journey. If you’re interested in coming along, book your place here – 

https://kx.com/kx-retail-data-technology-event-november-7th/

Capture 2

0

Customer experience awards, Customer experience strategy, Customer journey, Customer journey mapping, customer-centric, customer-first, Qualitative research

We recently had the pleasure of judging at the UK CX Awards at Wembley – a great experience, which reaffirmed how far Customer Experience (CX) has come over the last few years. With CX now widely-recognised as a key competitive differentiator, most organisations have established CX programmes, strategies, and/or teams in place – and the CX Awards are a great way to gain external recognition for your CX investments.  But how do you prove and articulate the impact of your CX initiatives, with a view to gain such recognition? 

Below we share our thoughts around what we can learn from this year’s finalists and winners, plus some key considerations for businesses looking to take their CX to the next level…

#1      Inside-out versus outside-in thinking

Examples of both inside-out and outside-in thinking were evident across this year’s entries:

  • Inside-out thinking – a focus on commercial and operational objectives and internal processes/ systems/ products
    • E.g. Several entries focused on the outsourcing of contact centre operations and associated impacts, with the initial decision driven by factors such as rapid business growth
  • Outside-in thinking – looking at your business from a customer perspective and designing products and services around customer goals and needs
    • E.g. The winner of the Utilities category described how they designed a Tracker and associated comms. to provide transparency and address issues around consumer trust in Utilities providers

Both approaches can have positive impacts on the CX, even if these impacts were not the initial aspiration or driver of the business decision.  However, it is those businesses who apply outside-in thinking, and have a genuinely customer-centric approach, who really stand out for CX.

Key considerations:  Do you have a clear CX strategy that considers your business from the ‘outside in’ – i.e. in terms of what customers are trying to achieve with your brand?  Does your business consider the customer throughout planning and implementing change? A strategy that is underpinned by a clear set of CX principles, and is supported by tools such as customer personas, will help to ensure that customer impact is at the core of decision-making processes.

#2      Connecting insight around the customer journey

Insight that can help to shape and optimise the CX comes in many forms in terms of types of data/ data sources and what’s actually being measured.  Many of the finalists are now using the end-to-end customer journey as a framework to connect insight, enabling businesses to cut across verticals, draw comparisons at different levels of the organisation, and unite around a more connected view of the customer. 

Key considerations:  Customer journey management is the future of CX optimisation and is key to driving customer-led change.  Have you clearly defined your customer journeys? Are these journeys defined by the customer perspective, not just your operational processes? Are your customer journeys being used as a framework to consistently manage your CX?

#3      The importance of customer input

Although many organisations hold a wealth of knowledge and insight on the customer journey, the most important rule of journey mapping is to use primary research to understand and define the journey from a customer perspective – in terms of customers’ goals and pathways/ routes taken.  However, it seems that some customer journeys are still being defined on an assumptive basis – i.e. how the business sees them.  Without customer input and leading with the customer perspective, businesses risk making decisions that are made on sizeable assumptions about what customers think, feel, want, and need.

Key considerations:  Are you getting customer input/ feedback on your proposition, brand, and experience when it matters most? Are you using the customer perspective to drive decision making across the business?

#4      Stories as well as statistics

Over the last few years there has been much debate about which is the ‘right’ CX metric – NPS/ CSAT/ CES, etc., with organisations coming to realise that there is no ‘perfect’ metric; rather a range of measures are needed to gain a holistic understanding of on-going CX performance.  This includes the growing emphasis placed on independent customer review sites, specifically Trust Pilot, with many of the finalists using their rating as a key customer metric across their organisation.

However, to really sell the positive impact of CX initiatives, statistics need to be accompanied with the art of storytelling – we often only get our message across when we can understand how various touch-points are experienced by, and emotionally impact upon, a real individual customer (ideally one who we can relate to). 

Key considerations: The role of customer immersion in facilitating on-going customer closeness/ understanding, and in providing impactful stories, cannot be understated.  To what extent does your business draw on qualitative research (including techniques such as co-creation and ethnography) to engage the business with the true impact of CX performance?

#5      A focus on the extremities of the experience

The Awards highlighted plenty of best practice examples that we can learn from when it comes to the extremities of the CX (i.e. focusing on the beginning and end of the customer lifecycle and/or particularly positive and negative experiences), such as:

  • Effective resolution and complaints handling
  • Proactive acquisition and retention strategies – e.g. recommend a friend schemes, loyalty programmes, and personalised marketing informed by customer segmentation and a Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) model
  • Leveraging Promoters – e.g. encouraging them to write reviews on consumer sites via links at the end of a customer survey
  • Understanding the issues affecting Detractors, e.g. via text analytics and root cause analysis

Key considerations:  What is your business doing in relation to these areas? What are you doing to maintain and optimise the CX for those customers in the middle?  And how do you ensure that you’re not resting on your laurels – i.e. how can you shift your CX from ‘good’ to ‘great’?

#6      Employee engagement

When it comes to CX, we know it’s not just customers who are important. The Awards presentations included great examples of employee engagement initiatives – from ‘employee recognition Friday,’ to dedicated areas (e.g. feedback walls) for employees to make suggestions, to Facebook pages to reach frontline teams. 

To deliver a consistent and branded CX, your employees also need to really understand your CX vision/ brand values (and what they mean in practice) – and need to have a reason to deliver that experience.  For example, the winners of the Hospitality, Leisure & Travel category now include their new values within their employee appraisal process.

Key considerations:  Have you equipped, empowered and motivated your employees to deliver on your CX vision?  Do your employees have all the tools they need to deliver a consistent, branded CX?

If you’d like to discuss any of these areas in more detail and consider how you might set yourself up for entering for an award in 2018, please just get in touch – hello@thisislens.co.uk

0

B2B customer experience, Customer experience strategy, Customer journey, Customer journey mapping, Customer journeys, customer-centric, customer-first, start-up businesses

UK start-up businesses are on the rise – 2016 saw a record number (650,000) of new start-ups, with this trend predicted to continue in 2017. Alongside this, customer experience is being recognised as a driver of growth amongst B2B service providers, yet less than 25% are excelling and only 23% of B2B organisations claim to have a customer-centric approach. With last week marking six months since starting up ourselves as ‘lens’, we wanted to reflect on some of our own experiences to illustrate:

– Why we firmly believe that a ‘customer first’ approach is so important
– How getting the customer experience ‘wrong’ can have a negative impact on customer behaviour, loyalty, and advocacy
– …And why/ where significant opportunities exist for B2B organisations who ‘get it right’

Here, we take a look at some of the fundamentals of a customer first approach and illustrate how they played out across our own experiences when starting out…

#1 – Understand your customers’ mind-set and needs

Taking the plunge into ‘start-up world’ brought about a whole series of conflicting emotions – we were in a place that we hadn’t been in before…a totally different ‘mind-set’. We were very focused on an overall mission – ‘To set-up our business so that we were ready to go on day 1’. This meant creating a ‘to do’ list which included things like registering the business, buying (and setting-up) the right IT equipment, taking out the right business insurance, and setting-up business banking, etc.  Each item on our ‘to do’ list represented an individual customer journey that we would go on, with each journey involving different organisations.

Our mind-set very much shaped our needs, which was somewhat different to what we would want/ need as a consumer – we were a different persona.  In general, we felt that very few of the organisations we dealt with really took the time to understand this.  Some of the banks got off to a reasonable start – they suggested that they had products for us by having the word ‘business’ in the naming of their accounts and, with some, we could then look at accounts for ‘start-ups’ versus those who were ‘already running a business’ or ‘switching providers.’  Beyond this, the questions they asked us were pretty much about facts and figures (e.g. ‘What will your turnover/ net profit be, will you be dealing in cash?’) and not about what we actually needed.

The impact?

First impressions count.  We started out feeling that we weren’t fully understood and that the banks, in particular, weren’t all that interested in us as a business. Turns out, that feeling became a reality…

#2 – Design around customer goals, not a product or a process

After understanding who your customers/ target customers are, the next question a business should ask is, ‘What are customers trying to achieve with us?’  This leads to the identification of customer goals, which define individual customer journeys, e.g. ‘to set-up our business banking.’ 

It quickly became clear that the bank had designed their experience around their product and associated process, not around us achieving our goal.  This was most apparent in terms of where we each perceived our journey to end – to us, being ‘set-up’ meant that we had everything we needed and knew how to access and manage our accounts; to the bank, the emphasis seemed to be on our account being open – they sent out the necessary comms. and then it felt like ‘job done’…

The impact?

In the short-term, we had some issues with setting-up and support was hard to find – we were unsure who to contact, which lead to us sending several emails and making quite a few calls.  This quickly descended in to feelings of ‘what have we done…’

#3 – Map the end-to-end journey, not just interactions with your brand

It’s also important to note where our business banking journey had started, which was before we got in touch with our chosen bank.  We’d begun by researching and comparing bank accounts online and seeking recommendations from other businesses, meaning that we came armed with information, perceptions, and expectations.  This vital context surrounding interactions, including the ‘route’ taken to get to the brand, is often missed by businesses, who often perceive that the customer journey starts at first contact with their organisation. 

The impact?

In our case, setting-up business banking was also just one of the journeys that we were on in our ‘quest’ to achieve our overall mission – and many of these journeys were dependent on each other, e.g. we couldn’t set-up our direct debit for insurance without our bank account details.  Therefore, when we had to wait 4 weeks for an in-branch appointment, it may not have seemed like a big deal; however, to us, this was part of a much bigger picture – meaning it was more of a ‘pain point’ than the bank is likely to have anticipated.

#4 – Understand the rational journey – i.e. the thought process and support needs beyond the product/ service

The bigger picture, and the journeys themselves, were also about much more than the physical interactions (touch-points) we experienced – the more touch-points we went through, the more questions we had…and the extent to which we could get answers dictated our behaviour. 

When it came to laptops, we wanted to know which one was right for us.  We started off in store, where one retailer provided attempted to provide some POS guidance – laptops for different ‘purposes’ (none of which mapped to what we needed).  We reverted to comparing laptops online and managed to narrow our options down by seeking recommendations from friends and family in business and applying some guess work.  To make our final decision, we decided to go in back in to store, where we chose the most expensive of our shortlisted options.

The impact?

You could argue that this was a win for the retailer as we bought the most expensive laptop from our shortlist.  However, we also needed an ‘all-in-one’ printer/ scanner, a cloud-based storage/ file sharing system, and various software…cue more questions. We’d have happily bought them all in one go if we’d have known we could get the answers we needed.  However, the lack of proactive help from the ‘advisor’ in-store meant we decided it would be ‘easier’ to go back online and purchase the other items we needed from elsewhere – so, does this really count as a ‘win’?

 #5 – Understand what matters most (and why) to build an emotional connection

Across the different journeys, we expected to feel a ‘healthy level’ of anxiety – but there were some stages/ touch-points where we felt more anxious.  In some cases, this felt natural; in others, this was due to, or at least ‘heightened’ by, poor customer experience. When we started our business banking account journey, we wanted an in-branch appointment initially – we called to make one, the contact centre ‘pushed us’ back online…and even when we were (finally) at our appointment, it was suggested that an online application might have been better. Whilst online would be our preferred channel in ‘consumer world,’ this was different – we were in a new territory and we had to get this right. 

The impact?

We wanted to use specific channels for specific reasons. Whilst digital channels will enable us to manage our accounts ongoing, at this point we wanted face-to-face contact with someone who would be on-hand to answer key questions we had and would be accountable for helping us to achieve our goal. For the bank, this was a real opportunity to connect with us and start to build a relationship – whilst in the end, they gave us an initial face-to-face meeting, it was with reluctance and we certainly didn’t feel valued. Our stance now is that we’ll stay with them for the free banking period offered by the product; however, beyond that, our decision will depend on how well they respond to what matters to us in future.  Building an emotional connection where/ when it matters most is so important in terms of customer loyalty and advocacy – people will forget what you said or did but will remember, and talk about, how you made them feel.

#6 – Measure the right things and prioritise based on key drivers

The things that matter most to customers should be amongst the things that a business measures – this means focusing on key stages/ touch-points (‘moments of truth’) and the drivers of satisfaction across these interactions. 

The impact?

Our experience has led us to question whether the organisations we have dealt with have designed around the things that are important to start-up businesses specifically… Interestingly, none of the organisations that we have dealt with have approached us to ask us for feedback on our experiences.

Some final reflections…

So… we didn’t have the best customer experiences and we wouldn’t recommend the bank or the retailer…or any of the businesses we dealt with for that matter.

As the start-up market continues to grow, it’s time to take things seriously. Adopt a customer-first approach; Get the customer experience right, identify opportunities to fulfil other needs at the right points, create reasons for business customers to be loyal, and build advocates of the future.

0