Customer Experience: How to Bite off What You Can Chew

The effervescent Karl Long at Experience Curve recently posted a great article on Customer Experience Management (CEM). One particular piece of it caught my eye as being very helpful to those of you who are striving hard to figure out how to grasp the CEM reins. As quoted from Karl's article (emphasis and formatting added) ...
Bite Size Customer Experience Management - Customer Experience Blueprint

Customer Experience Management seems to be such an enormous task, that many companies just ignore it because so many stake-holders own so many aspects of the customer experience. The last thing we need is another Chief Anything officer. That’s why I added the byline “don’t **** this up”: Instead of trying to manage the entire customer experience, try figuring out what just one or two things that your company should be “trusted” with. This is different for every company. Black smoke pouring out the back of a UPS truck is not going to undermine the brand as much as it did for Crystal Springs [water - see article].

Once you figure out the one or two things your company should be “trusted” for, map out the customer life-cycle and all their interactions, from being a prospect to being a repeat customer. For every point in that customer life-cycle, note what the customer is going to experience or interact with from the standpoint of product, communication, environment, and behavior, and at that point you need to make an evaluation: Is (the experience) supporting the key things we should be “trusted” with?

Some categories of things to look for when evaluating the customer experience are:

  • Product. Package Design, Placement, Logo (from a process standpoint: Finding It, Buying It, Opening It, Using It, Getting Support)
  • Communication - Instructions, Brochures, Uniforms, Signage, Packaging, Presentations, Sales Collateral, Interactive Tools, emails, Templates
  • Behavior. Phone Scripts, Interactive Tools (including IVR), Sales People, Delivery People, Vehicles
  • Environment.Signage, Space, Interaction (I really need an architect to help me out here)

  • Karl's CEM analysis categories are similar to what we've defined as the five layers of Customer Experience Management. His "Product" and "Environment" categories above align directly to our definitions... and what he calls "Behavior" essentially combines with our "Customer Layer" (demographic and behavioral dynamcis) and the "Interaction layer" (human-to-human; human-to-technology).

    To create a visual picture of how we align Communication (messages, programs, offers, etc.) to CEM, I have been using the following diagram:

    So yeah! Go Karl. Good stuff. Totally agree. I love the simplicity of the concept: Figure out what your company can be trusted with, design and test the experience around it. Brands that are applying the experience fundmentals understand the power of the "Three Word Rule." As companies attempt to describe their focused "core competency" they should definitely reflect what the brand can be trusted with!

    In terms of biting off more than you can chew, I'd add this simple thought. Creating the experience map for the customer across phases of adoption should be guided by a really clear understanding of customer segments. This isn't your momma's segmentation, either. When it's time to prioritize, it's really important to think about customers in a manner that weight the following considerations:

  • Profitability. What is the projected or real dollar value of the customer's current, potential, future business?
  • Influence. How much influence the segment will have in creating market perception? Are they small but mighty?
  • Maintenance. What will it cost to acquire and support the customer across the adoption lifecycle?

    As we design the experiences around segments with these considerations in mind, it's easier to develop a clear understanding of the minimal experience required to fundamentally support all viable customer segments to maximize return on investment. It also gives us a better understanding of where we should invest to create more optimal experiences that capture the affinity of the most valuable customers.

    Thanks, Karl!

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    I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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