Article

Hideki Hashimura
Hideki Hashimura 24 September 2018

Developing a common understanding of your customer journey: four key steps to success

We all know how important it is for companies to understand the “customer journey”. Having an in-depth understanding of what your customer’s journey with your brand is will help you develop your CX strategy in a much more effective way.

So, what do business leaders need to understand and do in order to achieve a successful CX strategy?

1. Create cohesiveness.

We find that one of the main barriers for organisations in developing an effective CX strategy is to gain support from all of the company’s departments to create a cohesive vision. Many heads of departments fail to see that the customer experience is affected not only by the front office staff but also by the actions of middle and back office; they often don’t recognise that customer service is not only about being in front of the customer to answer their questions, but to actually anticipate and solve issues before the customer is even aware that there is an issue.

In a company no one achieves anything on their own, every win is part of the value chain, and so is every fail. The probability of success is only as good as your weakest link. So, it is a good practice to involve your heads of departments (whether they are directly or indirectly related to the customer journey) along with some managers and a few users of each department, when delivering a customer journey workshop, mostly because that is the only opportunity where everyone will be seeing the company from the outside, from the customer point of view, irrelevant of the title they hold. This vision, or perspective, is very powerful, it helps everyone understand that the customer does not care whether it was this or that department who messed up; customers care about what they see as a final result.

2. Understand the monetisation of CX

Just about every aspect of the customer relationship falls under the overarching practice of customer experience management (CEM). CEM is the practice of looking at every part of the business from the perspective of customers and consciously designing the best operational model that can deliver the best experience to the end customer.

However, we cannot deliver excellent experiences at the expense of the bottom line. So ask your staff: do we understand the cost or benefit of the interactions we have with customers?

That is why organisations need to understand the cause and effect nature of their CX design. For this you need to have systems that can help you deliver the following chain of action:

 

  1. Operational systems should deliver data in a format that is easy to extract and analyse with other relevant data.
     
  2. Analyse the data combining the different management systems that collect customer interaction related data.
  1. Measure Net Promoter Score, NPS
  • Net promoters. They are your most loyal customers, leverage on this relationships to attract new customers organically at a low cost
  • Passive customers. What do they need to become promoters? How can you entice them?
  • Detractors. What are we doing wrong for them to not to be satisfied? What is the cost of improving the satisfaction scores?
  1. Measure Customer Lifetime Value, CLV
  • Understanding how much each of your customers is worth can help you justify how much money you are going to invest in to your marketing and CX programmes
  1. Act on the data based on some basic principles:
  1. Understand a promoter’s CLV:
  • They repurchase. When I need a new pair of shoes I go to the Nike store online, I don’t even consider other options as I’ve been buying the same high quality shoes for decades. The same thing happens with happy customers in the case of services, subscriptions and products, whether is B2B or B2C.
  • They buy more. Promoters are also more likely purchase additional products or services
  • They buy-up. Promoters are more likely to step up to premium services  
  • They consolidate business with one brand. The trust in your brand means that they simplify their lives by concentrating their business with the company that provides the best customer experience
  • They have tolerance to price increases. Promoters value quality and experience so much that they will accept moderate adjustments in price.
  1. Understand a detractor’s impact:
  • Customers require a large investment to be acquired; however Detractors usually buy once and seldom again, and, in a subscription relationship, they defect as soon as possible
  • Detractors end up costing more than the revenue they represent because they use more services and waste more of your resources. Unhappy customers may cost your support organisation more than necessary by calling repeatedly thus increasing the cost of this service
  • So, devise ways to deal with detractors to either push them up in the NPS score or push them out.

Forrester research clearly shows how CEM impacts positively on the bottom line. You need to create the digital ecosystem that allows you to understand the numbers around NPS and CLV so you can ask for more budget to improve these two main KPIs. Improving CX and the customer journey is not just about being nice to customers, it’s about your business making money.

3. Understand your technical gap.

So you’re working with technology form 10 years ago. There is probably a list of things you can’t do well (impacting on operational capabilities) and there is probably a list of things you don’t know, in other words you can’t get accurate reporting (impacting on making crucial decisions when needed).  

A 10-year gap in technology is huge, even five years is too much nowadays. If your operational capabilities are diminished by your access to technology there is probably very little you can do to improve your CX. Omnichannel customer service platforms, CRM platforms, an integrated website with a customer portal, ecommerce, mobile apps and customer intelligence analytics, all of these are elements of modern technology strategies focused on the customer experience.

Investing first in understanding what technologies you need in order to deliver an excellent customer experience is probably the first step to upgrading your digital ecosystem. Look at technology from the perspective of what value it delivers to the customer, how capable does it make you? How empowered will your staff be? If you take this approach, then technology will pay itself. It is not a case of it being expensive or cheap, is a case of it creating the capabilities to deliver value to the customer.  

3. Understand the meaning of value.

What do your customers value? Have you asked your team if they understand this?

Modern companies are expected to deliver a combination of product + value, your product, or service, alone is not going to cut it, you need to add a layer of value that will enhance your product’s appeal and stickiness.

Defining value is key for your organisation to achieve an understanding of what they are doing and for whom they are doing it. Here is a definition of value that has served for many of our customers as a base, or template, to create their own:

“Value is created when we remove effort barriers so customers can access our products and services. Effort, in place, is made of 3 elements: time, money and negative emotions.”

The benefit of defining what value means to your customer is that you will have a compass that will guide you to make investment decisions knowing that they will deliver value to the customer, you will probably change your operational model, be it processes or technology, in a way that “effort” is removed from the customer journey, in a way where the access to your products is effortless, without an over investment of time, money or negative emotions from your customers.

If you do get there, if you define what value means to your customers, do make sure your staff understands why it is defined as such, they will, in place, start making decisions on their own to deliver value to your customers.

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