We’ve compiled a list of some of the main considerations when creating a customer experience strategy. It’s not an exhaustive list but it will provide you with some building blocks to work from.
1. Understand the problems to be solved
Ensuring you’re solving the right problem(s) is key to the formation of any good strategy. Dorothea Brande famously said:
A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.
There can be a tendency for people to jump over the ‘Problem Space’ and go straight to the ‘Solution Space’ and start building something. The main reason for this is the perception that if you’re building something, you can demonstrate that progress is being made. But what if progress is being made in the wrong direction?
Making this error can result in wasted time and effort, solving the wrong problem. Don’t make this mistake. To help prevent this there are tried and trusted processes to help support exploratory (divergent thinking) within the 1st diamond (problem space), in order to frame the right problem(s) to be solved. An important step is in this process is data collection and analysis of customer and organisation feedback, both qualitative and quantitative (See figure 1).
There are fast-track ways to help facilitate divergent thinking such problem framing workshops. Some benefits of running problem framing workshops include:
- Understand the context of the problem(s)
- Understand what solutions to existing problems have been tried previously
- Capture all problems that need to be solved and place them in priority order
- Understand and ensuring there is a business case and need for any work to be conducted
- Identify areas of opportunity to focus on
- Gain alignment and understanding on who the customers are
- Develop empathy customers
- Understand the customers ‘jobs to be done’
- Understand customer pain points
- Generate some initial solution ideas to the major problems
- Define clear problem statements
Once you know the right problem or problems to be solved you can then distil down and test the best ideas or solutions (convergent thinking) within the 2nd diamond (solution space). This is where you can explore running a Design Sprint to focus on solving one of the highest priority problems and gauge the impact vs effort of the solution will have.
2. Align the stakeholders
One of most important outcomes when creating your customer experience strategy is to ensure that you have achieved an understanding and alignment of stakeholders. A method that can help to achieve this is stakeholder mapping. A stakeholder map is a visualisation of who is involved and should be considered when creating the service experience. The stakeholder map is constructed of three concentric circles that can be used to rank the level of the stakeholder involvement in the development of the experience (See figure 2):
When building your stakeholder map, we would recommend holding a collaborative workshop session that includes a combination of internal employees, customers and third-party suppliers to gain a balanced and multi-angle view of those that will be involved and influence the project. This will also contribute towards gaining acceptance, agreement and commitment of stakeholders.
You can typically start by collaboratively answering a series of questions such as:
- Who are the stakeholders?
- What are their roles?
- What level of influence will they have on the project? How important are they? What rank do you apply to each stakeholder?
- What are the value exchanges between stakeholders? E.g. payments, loyalty, feedback, information
Historically we would have recommended you to create your stakeholder map offline first using a printed stakeholder map template, post-it notes and sharpies. The reason for this is so you can quickly map it out at low fidelity, focusing on the shared thinking rather than getting bogged down in creating a polished artefact.
However, with the emergence of online whiteboards, you can create a stakeholder map just as quickly with the added benefit of not having to be in the same location. Once you have created your offline version of your stakeholder map you can look to digitise it to make it easier to share and present in ‘Show & Tells’.
3. Understand the ecosystem
Building on the understanding of stakeholders and the value exchanges, it’s important that you understand the ecosystem of systems that facilitate the current service.
Again, you can start by asking yourself a series of questions:
- What systems are being used now to facilitate the service?
- Which touchpoints do they support?
- How do the systems facilitate the value exchange between stakeholders?
- What systems could be used be used to deliver the future experience?
- Who are the product owners of each system?
- How do the systems communicate with each other?
As in the stakeholder mapping exercise, collaboratively mapping these systems onto the stakeholder map is recommended to gain a joined-up view and alignment.
Answering questions will naturally spark off other questions to influence your strategy such as:
- How can we unify our systems to create a seamless customer experience across all touch points?
- How could store and push our content out to multiple touch points?
- How do our systems experience help facilitate the experience on multiple devices?
These questions could be reframed as ‘How Might We….’ questions to help provide the spark for a solution. Off the back of this mapping ecosystem exercise, questioning and an initial solution generation, it’s prudent to start think about how systems could be rolled out in the now, soon and in the future.
4. Map the end-to-end journey
As part of creating your customer experience strategy, a key part is mapping the end-to-end experience. These methods will help you understand and benchmark where you are now in terms of end-to-end experience, and help you map out what the future experience could look like. It will also help you understand how you can better sequence touchpoint interactions.
5. Define success metrics
Defining and setting key success metrics is key to delivering a first-class customer experience. This is something that’s quite often overlooked or not shared widely.
Benchmark ‘The Now’ and set a ‘North star’ for the future
Like any journey, knowing where you want to go is crucial. You also need to know if you’re heading in the right direction, so you don’t go off course.
To help achieve this you can look to benchmark a series of customer metrics as they stand now. Capturing this data will help provide insight and evidence if the strategies that you are/will be implementing are working or not and enable you to pivot your strategy accordingly. The next step is to define your ‘North star’ in terms of what the target metric scores should be for the future customer experience.
One of the most widely used metrics is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This metric is used to benchmark and measure the overall level of loyalty and sentiment towards a brand. It’s based on surveying your customers and asking them the question “How likely, on a scale of 0 to 10 would you be to recommend our service to a friend or colleague?” Responses are then categorised into three groupings (See figure 3).
There are other customer experience metrics to consider such as:
- Cost per transaction
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
- Customer Effort Score (CES)
- Customer churn rate
- Customer Retention Rate
- Content Usefulness Score
- Completion Rates
- Digital take-up
Setup and continual monitoring of success metrics
Once you have these metrics agreed, continually monitoring and tracking these metrics over time provides the customer experience data to analyse against your targets. You can then identify under-performing areas and take action where improvements can be implemented that will drive real value.
As you should now have oversight of the end-to-end customer journeys through the mapping exercises, you can now start to think about how you can send customers triggered communications to capture this feedback data across multiple touch points, both online and offline.
An example of this could be sending out an email following a customer support call requesting feedback. The email could ask the customer to score the experience using an NPS score. If your survey then includes an open question, asking why a customer has provided the score they have, you can uncover a little more context behind their answer.
This feedback, once analysed can help to inform solutions that would improve the experience.
6. Establish a customer centric and innovation culture
Establishing the right company culture is key to delivering a customer experience strategy. To do this you can look at running internal culture and training programmes to educate and align employees around the guiding pillars of the strategy.
It’s important for employees that:
- They are empathising with your customers; they understand their needs and ongoing research is embedded as part of your ways of working. More can be learned about this in the ‘Pivoting to a customer first mindset’ report
- They’re basing decisions on research, both customer, business and market
- They feel that there is a culture of innovation so they can generate ideas, prototype, test, iterate and scale them to improve customer experiences
- They want to share their learnings internally
- They are bought in to the customer centric values and principles and are practicing them in their role
- They are collaborating and co-creating improved experience
What are the challenges?
As with any big changes within an organisation, it’s not always plain sailing, sometimes you may encounter some challenges.
One of the biggest challenges you will probably face is change. You might encounter employees that embrace change on get on-board with the new direction. On the other hand, you might find people who see change in a negative way.The Kubler-Ross Change Curve, helps to illustrate the emotions and stages people might go through. If you can recognise where someone is on their journey, you can put tactics in place to mitigate risk and turn any negatives into positives (See figure 4).
From an agency’s perspective, other challenges can include:
- Getting departments that have historically worked in silos to start co-creating the end-to-end customer experience together
- Getting both backstage and front-stage systems aligned to facilitate the experience
If you’re at a point in your organisation’s customer experience maturity, where you’re starting to look at creating your own customer experience strategy, then you’ve come along way already. You can now leverage the inertia you’ve built up to take things to the next level.