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Haaris Hasnain
Haaris Hasnain 4 February 2019

Decoding Customer Experience Conundrums

Organisations today are striving to get their customer experience right. So why is it so difficult for people to understand customer experience? Why don't we get it right in the first place and why are organisations willing to spend millions of dollars trying to find the answers to the same kind of problems?

The market is flushed with terms like Design Thinking, Customer Journey Maps, Personas, Empathy Maps etc. Each industry is trying to adopt to the new ways of working and trying to achieve optimal customer satisfaction and NPS scores. 

 Below I will focus on some of the common questions that almost every CX professional faces while driving towards ideal state customer service experience:

1. How many choices are too many?

A question that I have wrestled the most while designing the ideal customer journey. Should we empower the user and provide him with all the options or should we provide him with only the best options from the cost and ease of use perspective. Asking the customer to provide an answer of what they want can be a minefield. Questions like no. of payment methods, no. of ways to add product to cart, no. of ways to raise disputes are pertinent examples of when this quandary occurs.

What works best in my point of view is to provide interactions what the customer is most likely to use and which provides the best experience. Something that goes well with the concept of "Follow the customer". Which interaction is highly likely to be used in which situation requires analysis through a combination of primary research, secondary research and analyzing customer usage patterns data.

2. What is the ideal level of communication needed?

Another burning question while designing for ideal customer journey is to understand the appropriate level of communication required to be provided to customers. Do we need to provide each and every little detail to the customer to keep him informed about the journey or should we just ensure that the customer is kept informed about key milestones or outcomes in the journey.

I believe the answer to this varies a lot with the type of customer and the type of journey you are drawing. For example, in case of a large B2B customer service environment it may not be necessary for the customer to be kept informed of everything that is happening with a particular request. However, for B2B or C2C environment it makes sense to provide regular updates about the overall request fulfillment process.

3. Trade offs between human-less and human led interaction?

We are living in a world which is fast moving towards adopting automation and eliminating human interaction. The news from the tech industry provides a barrage of innovations around AI, self-driving cars and bots, all of which fits the pattern of this movement. All these developments provides better efficiency, speed of execution, reliability and consistency in customer experience. Having said that, I still believe that while the technology is rapidly catching up in providing the quintessential superhuman experience, there is still scope for human interaction in the ideal state customer experience. The question to be answered is where human interaction is still irreplaceable or works best?

An example to consider here is handling an "irate high value customer", where more than pragmatic judgement, a creative problem solving approach is necessary to serve the customer. Real human contact from customer service teams is becoming one of the leading differentiators where the customers are showing inclination towards human interaction.

Outcomes from resolving these puzzles

While there are hundreds of agencies, consulting firms and freelancers claiming to be the ultimate voice in designing and delivering the customer experience, I still believe that the industry is learning the nitty gritties. Leaders in this area, companies like Apple, Amazon and Uber stay close to the customer to understand the customer needs and feedback. Most customer experience workshops still are done in silos with focus on using the sticky notes to write ideas rather than doing the pre-work in customer research and incorporating them into the workshops. The industry as a whole needs to make the paradigm shift of delivering the customer experience by actually stepping into customer's shoes.

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