Customer Experience is much bigger than Customer Service. The experience a customer gets doesn’t just come from the service they receive. Their experience is also determined by the product and channel propositions, including the product, price, sales channel, promotional and branding activity. They all have an impact on the customer’s experience. You could go as far as to say that Customer Experience is driven by the 7Ps so commonly spoken about within the world of Marketing.
This being the case, could it be said that Customer Experience is a marketing discipline? It’s a fair enough point and some people would argue that it is. It should be noted that dealing with customer experience and customer service is very different for every industry. This is why there are things like insurance agency management software that can help to enhance customer satisfaction for the agencies but then this software could be focused on completely different things for an e-commerce website. That’s just how big the difference in customer experiences for different industries is.
Irrespective of whether this is or is not the case, Customer Experience has certainly taken the 7Ps of Marketing to a whole new level. Marketing – as most people would define it today – and Customer Experience are certainly not the same thing in practice. Customer Experience has introduced a whole new dimension, largely overlooked within the Marketing field. The dimension of time.
Customer Experience encourages businesses to view themselves in the same way that their customers do. The way the customers think about a company or brand tends to be chronological. Experience doesn’t necessarily just come from a single interaction. Our total experience is determined by our our emotional and functional interactions with that business over time. When I think about some of my favourite brands – First Direct and John Lewis in particular – I think respectively about the 20 years I have been a customer of First Direct; and all of the times I have had great shopping experiences at John Lewis. It is for this reason that Customer Journey Mapping is such a central tenet of Customer Experience management.
Customer Journey Mapping is spoken about a lot, yet it is still misunderstood by some people. A number of organisations I have spoken to over the years, including some of the biggest brands in the world, can still get it wrong. I was once advised by a major automotive brand that they had undertaken a Customer Journey Mapping exercise, only to find that they had simply mapped out their internal processes relating to the production and distribution of promotional materials to customers over time.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the automotive brand undertaking this exercise, however what they were doing was more ‘inside-out’ than ‘outside-in’. This should be more accurately described as mapping a process-flow rather than a customer journey.
So with some of the largest brands in the world still capable of falling short, there is probably no harm in providing a reminder of the fundamentals of Customer Journey Mapping.
Customer Journey Mapping – The Right Steps…
1. Defining the Customer Experience Journey Framework – The first step of Customer Journey Mapping is to define the generic stages of a customer’s journey. For example, the first stage might be ‘Awareness’ or ‘I’m thinking of Joining’; and the final stage might be ‘I’m Leaving’ or ‘I’m Terminating my Contract’. These generic stages provide the framework around which the rest of the Customer Journey mapping exercise can be built. The stages are typically generic enough that they can be applied across a business or even an industry sector for all journeys, irrespective of customer segment or channel. Furthermore, these stages can be broken down further into sub-stages, or as we at Jericho like to refer to them, phases.
2. Designing the Customer Experience ‘curves’ – Research performs a critical part in Journey Mapping. Using Voice of the Customer, Customer Satisfaction and/ or NPS® techniques, the business can assess the ‘performance’ and ‘importance’ of the business against criteria across the customer journey. It’s important to be aware of a customer journey because it can teach you how the customer found your product. This might be expectations of an ‘ideal’ provider (possibly determined from the qualitative research element of VoC), or might be the standard aspects of business performance that you might typically find within a CSAT study. The importance and performance scores enable you to plot customer experience curves for the current and ideal performance of the business. The positioning of these lines, both in isolation and relative to each other, also enables you to determine the ‘pain points’ for the business (areas of lowest performance) and the ‘moments of truth’ for the customer (where the gaps between expectation and reality are at their greatest). This information helps the business to understand the scale of transformational effort required and also how and at which points on the journey the transformational effort should be prioritised.
3. Understanding the Existing Journey – Although the Customer Experience curves help you to understand the state of the existing customer journey from an empirical perspective, it does not help you to understand the detail as to why this might be the case. For this reason, it is also important to ‘walk the processes’, which is a diagnostic exercise that involves following the processes of the business as a customer might experience them. This helps you to identify what works well and what causes problems for the customer. This is also referred to as the identification of ‘value demand’ – what activities undertaken by the business drive value for the customer and company – and ‘failure demand’ – what activities undertaken by the business relate to resolving issues or complaints. This exercise can also help the business to identify the reasons for the ‘pain points’ and poor customer satisfaction, helping it to identify where resolution effort needs to be prioritised.
4. Customer Promises and Commitments – When a business undertakes full Voice of the Customer research, which includes the identification and prioritisation of customer expectations, in addition to mapping the Customer Experience curves, the business can also define the ‘Promises and Commitments’ it would like to make to it’s customers, employees and other stakeholders. Promises and Commitments are typically themes that reflect the most important expectations of the customer, for example Trust, Honesty, Credibility, Security, Honour, etc.
Promises and Commitments play a vital role in Customer Experience transformation. Improving customer experience is basically about reducing the gap between what the customer expects and what they actually get (or what they perceive they get!). There are two sides to a gap. Managing customer experience doesn’t just come from making improvements to the product, channel and service propositions, but also by managing customers’ expectations via branding and marketing communications. Within business communication with the customer is important, for example using a communication tool like automated text messages: automated text messaging for business is a good way to keep in touch with your customers giving you a way to keep your customers informed and make their experiences pleasant. Promises and Commitments not only provide ‘context’ to the nature of the transformation undertaken to product, channel and service, but are also used to help the business to correctly position its brand, thereby helping to manage customer expectations.
5. Designing Future-State Customer Experiences – The previous steps help you to understand the existing journey in detail, including where the problems exist and why; and they also help to empirically determine what the ‘ideal’ customer journey might be. However until now, there is no detail as to what the ideal Customer Journey might look and feel like. Designing Future-State Customer Experiences is a story-telling exercise that helps you to build detailed narrative as to what the stages and phases of the new Customer Journeys might look, feel, hear, smell or even taste like. This is a behavioural science driven exercise that considers the experience across all customer segments and within all channels, as determined by the business.
Following on from the Journey Mapping activities, the business then needs to undertake gap-closing exercises and initiatives in order to turn the existing journeys into the future-state customer experiences.
Net Promoter, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld