The Journey Matters. But the Experience Matters More

A guide to delivering meaningful and memorable customer experiences.
Developed in partnership with CX specialists CECELZY Consultancy, it describes how research can help align your customer’s journey with their needs and expectations.

INTRODUCTION

It’s likely that your company has customer relationships across multiple channels. The challenge is to ensure that each of these touchpoints is optimized. Are you providing the best customer engagements and commercial opportunities?

Many companies find themselves focusing upon their customer’s ‘journey’ and not upon their ‘experience’.

In this paper we offer some guidelines on how to prioritize your customers’ feelings – rather than simply what they are doing.

Reflect upon these few questions to help assess how well your organization understands your customer’s profile, needs, behaviours and feelings:

  1. Where does your customer’s journey start and end?
  2. What are the key stages of this journey?
  3. Is this how your customers sees them?
  4. Which stages would your customers like to see improved?
  5. How does each stage make your customers feel? (Towards your brand, value proposition, service or likelihood to purchase?)
  6. Is the ratio of digital and personal communication right for  your customers? And how could this be improved?
  7. Finally – do these answers vary by types of customer? (eg by demographics, sector, culture.)

We identify six steps for improving your customer’s experience.

 

STEP 1: UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY

This is a descriptive task. Begin by suspending judgement and map out the experiences you are giving your customers.

It’s important that this exercise is both qualitative and quantitative. (In our experience, it’s usually the qualitative insights that are the most illuminating.)

Good, independent, impartial research is essential at this stage. It should include:

  1. Documenting the customer journey.
  2. Interviews with staff – to understand their perceptions of the current process.
  3. Interviews with customers – to understand their perceptions and feelings. How similar/different are these to your intentions, or staff perceptions?
  4. How would your staff, and customers, like to see things improved?
  5. Are there any other key stakeholders with an interest in the customer journey? Have you engaged them in the study?

You may also want to do a benchmarking study at this point. Measuring customer satisfaction across touchpoints. This will be valuable later – to re-visit, once changes have been made.

STEP 2: DIAGNOSTIC ANALYSIS

Work together as a cross-functional team. This really ensures that all areas of the customer journey are captured and will be a powerful way for staff to engage in helping to improve and own the journey.

Workshops are typically the best format. Value stream mapping can be an effective process to take your teams through.

Examine each element of the journey and each customer experience, to identify:

  1. What is working well?
  2. What adds value to your customers?
  3. What doesn’t add value and needs re-inventing?
  4. What needs refinements or investment?

Evaluate all data you have about the customer journey today. For example, do you have over-production in some areas? Or a high level of complaints? Understanding and baselining this data is critical.

It’s likely that you will identify many possible areas for improvement.

Break these down into ‘short-term wins’ and ‘longer term objectives’ that may require program management.

 

STEP 3: CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT

Again, this stage typically works best in workshops with a cross-section of internal stakeholders representing all stages of the customer journey.

Explore options and solutions to address shortfalls. Remember to stay focused upon the customer’s perspective. What do you need to do to enhance their experience and positive feelings?

The output from this stage is likely to be a range of options.

The logistics of delivering these, and cost implications, can be calculated. But before you do, conduct Step 4.

STEP 4: CONCEPT TESTING

Just because the workshop team think a new solution is brilliant, doesn’t mean that your customers will.

To de-risk your new plans and avoid costly mistakes, it’s a good idea to take the new concepts back into research.

Identify customers from your key target audiences and share the solutions with them.

Independent research, often using one-to-one interviews or focus groups, is likely to be the best approach here.

The output from this stage will be a shortlist of the best options.

STEP 5: CREATE YOUR ROADMAP FOR CHANGE

Now you know what you need to do. It’s time to build a plan to deliver it.

As your customer journey will most likely touch several functions within the business it will be key to manage these inter-dependencies and define common goals. For this we suggest creating workstream leaders to own and execute the changes needed.

This will form part of a program management framework.

Simply having project leaders may not be enough to manage the connections between each of the workstreams. You could run into problems if you have no one overseeing the whole program.

Within this plan you should consider all the obvious variables, such as timelines, cost implications, staff training needs, marketing and promotion and creating digital assets.

Alongside the program management plan, we recommend writing change management, stakeholder and communications plans.

Key questions you should consider as part of the plan will  include:

  1. Who will be impacted by the changes internally? How will they be impacted? What training will be needed?
  2. What are the key roles within the change management plan? Who will you appoint as change agents?
  3. What needs to be included in the each of the other plans?
  4. Who are the key stakeholders? Who would be supporters for the change? And opposers?
 

STEP 6: EVALUATE IF IT WORKS

Once you’ve implemented the changes there are many indicators to evaluate if you have improved customer experience. For example, increased customer retention, sales or reduced complaints.

It is also important that you survey customers again – so that you understand qualitatively if and how you have enhanced their experience.

By repeating the questions asked in the Stage 1 benchmark survey, you will see immediately whether you have achieved your objectives.

You may also want to consider how to capture ongoing feedback from your customers – so that you can embed a continuous improvements program into your customer journey.

Improving customer experience is not a one-off exercise. It’s an ongoing process of listening, learning, adapting and modifying what you do.

To download a printable version of this report click here.

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