What is customer experience?
Before we dive in, it’s important we understand what customer experience is.
So, what is it? How can it be described?
- Customer experience results from the interactions that your customer has with an organisation:
- Over their engagement time with you
- Across many touchpoints through the end-to-end customer journey
- Through the environments and interactions that occur both online and offline
Blake Morgan Senior Contributor at CMO Network describes it as :
Customer experience can include a lot of elements, but it really boils down to the perception the customer has of your brand. Even if you think your brand and customer experience is one thing, if the customer perceives it as something different, that is what the actual customer experience is.
Customer experience has evolved from the early days. Cost used to be the main factor when customers were deciding which brand to choose. Nowadays, it’s a combination of cost, customer experience and customer service.
Supermarkets especially are having to transform their businesses to take this into account. According to Asda CEO Roger Burnley:
Winning on price, delivering consistent customer experience and driving growth where customers care.
What are the typical phases of a customer lifecycle?
A big part in delivering a great customer experience is understanding and the sequencing of events at the right “Zoom level”. For example, looking at the lifecycle phases a customer goes through during the relationship they have with your organisation.
This diagram shows how a customer goes from the awareness of your brand through to the ‘bonding’ phase.
It’s important to understand and monitor performance at each stage if you want to build and nurture the relationship with your customer and avoid losing them through one bad experience.
Organisations have strategies in place to optimise and adapt the experience based on where the customer is within the sequence.
What are the components of a first-class customer experience strategy?
To answer this, we’ve compiled a list of the main components of a first-class customer experience.
1. Easy to use
How user friendly is the experience? Does the service make it quick and easy for the user to complete their task and goals? The service should be intuitive to use without putting much cognitive load on the user. Steve Krug says in his book Don’t make me think:
It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.
Technologies are evolving at an ever-increasing rate. Organisations are leveraging combinations of tech and customer data to develop their personalisation strategies. This enables experiences to be personalised, predicting customer needs ahead of time.
One of the goals of the Netflix personalisation system has been to serve relevant titles to their subscribers at the right time. When you consider the thousands of titles they have and the millions of members worldwide they have then this is amazing.
To take it to another level, Netflix rolled out personalised title artwork based on historic viewing data to encourage people to watch a title. This was the comment on the Netflix Tech blog:
let’s imagine how the different preferences for cast members might influence the personalisation of the artwork for the movie Pulp Fiction. A member who watches many movies featuring Uma Thurman would likely respond positively to the artwork for Pulp Fiction that contains Uma. Meanwhile, a fan of John Travolta may be more interested in watching Pulp Fiction if the artwork features John.
How reachable is your brand to your customers? Customers should be able to contact organisations using a touchpoint of their choice. They should also be able to do this at a time that suits them e.g using Facebook Messenger at 1am and have a bot reply to them.
Customer service programmes should also be in place to support all touchpoints. They play an important part of any customer experience strategy.
They’re valuable at every phase of the customer lifecycle. They provide that human touch when customers need someone to listen to them and have empathy. This could be to complain, ask questions or when they’re thinking of leaving.
4. Omni-channel end to end experience
The customer experience should connect from touchpoint to touchpoint seamlessly.
The user should be able to interact on one touchpoint, then continue the sequence on another.
In a previous report (Adopting a customer first mindset) we highlighted that if you want to be a customer centric organisation, your partner organisations should be too.
If you’re creating an omni-channel experience that relies on partners, you need to explore how both ecosystems work together. To create a seamless end-to-end customer experience.
The experience should make it convenient for customers to complete their goal. This could be ensuring that the service is available on touchpoints where customers reside, or not asking for information twice in a transaction.
We’re seeing an upward trend in mobile traffic on websites. Having a positive experience on a mobile is now not optional, it’s essential. If channels are not mobile optimised, organisations run the risk of customer dissatisfaction. This can lead to a poor experience and customers not returning or recommending.
65% of the UK’s consumers said they will switch from a poorly designed mobile site to a better alternative.
What is a customer experience (CX) model?
The purpose of a customer experience strategy involves understanding and optimising the overall customer experience on multiple touch points along a journey, within various environments. The end goals are to increase customer loyalty, advocacy, experience satisfaction, the quality of the experience provided and ultimately revenue generated.
Why is this relevant? Well, a customer could have an amazing experience on one touchpoint, but a poor experience on another leading towards negative sentiment towards the entire experience and brand.
The difference between User Experience and Service Design
UX typically focusses on the optimisation of one touchpoint such as a website. A scenario to provide some context could be a person buying a kettle and toaster.
Their first action might be to start narrowing down their options to make their tasks simpler. They might do this by asking themselves a question such as “What is the best 4 slice toaster?”. They might enter this question into Google and land on a website that sells 4 slice toasters.
The website might provide unique and valuable content that answers their question. Now armed with this information, they know which kettle and toaster to buy.
They buy the products using a checkout experience that has been designed to be frictionless and pleasurable. They pay using ApplePay which saves them having to type in credit card details and shipping details on their phone (See figure 1).
But what if the customer wanted to see the product before then buying it online. They might walk into an appliance store to take a look at the products. They might then read the information provided on the shelf edges. Following this, they might have some questions to ask and want to speak to a member of staff on the shop floor.
They now might also want to ask the store staff to check the stock levels and when an expected time of deliver. The customer then might choose to go home and order it online using a discount code to save some money (See figure 2).
How do we understand and plan for human behaviour such as this? How do we look at ways to optimise the customer experience? The answer is with Service Design. Service Design looks at the end-to-end journey and experience across multiple touch points and the ‘service as a whole’, both offline and online over time. In her article ‘What we mean by service design’, Louise Downe, Head of design for government, describes how the GDS team design services ‘as a whole’ and the various elements of this:
We design whole services: From end-to-end: this means from when the user starts trying to achieve a goal to when they finish - including both content and transaction agnostic to the department providing it From front to back: this means the user-facing service, internal processes, supporting policy or legislation and organisational, financial and governance structures of the service In every channel: digital, phone, post, face to face and physical elements
The illustration below (See figure 3) shows the difference in terms of breadth and depth between UX and Service Design.
What does a good end to end experience look like?
Although it isn’t a customer focussed example, Government Digital Services (GDS) have analysed the overall job to be done, which is ‘learn how to drive’. They have invented an extremely user-friendly and easy to understand way of guiding a person through a numbered sequential, step-by-step process of learning how to drive and passing their driving test.
They have created a master landing page pattern that clearly illustrates this end-to-end journey, and tasks someone has to go through, starting from top to bottom of the page. The page acts as the lynchpin to link to other existing services in the step-by-step series of tasks a person has to go through. Although the services are online, thought has been given to surfacing links to information where activities happen offline (See figure 4).
Individual services within the step-by-step process include a link back to the main ‘Learn to drive a car: step by step’ and indicate as to where you are within the process (See figure 5).