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Everything you need to know about Customer Experience

My site covers customer experience in great detail and I understand some of the terms I use and some of the topics may be a bit tricky to figure out. This is where you can get a bit more information about whatever you need.

If the topic isn’t covered here then please get in touch and I will answer it for you.

How can I measure Customer Experience?

We act on what we measure and Customer Experience is no different to other aspects of performance. To understand your customer experience, you need to set up listening posts and measure directly or use business measures as a proxy.

Listening posts

Listening posts is the CX jargon for the places where you acquire data. Some are formal and allow easy quantitative measures – such as surveys and structured reviews. Other are purely qualitative and require more analysis to build measures. (see this post for more on Qualitative vs Quantitative measures).

Relationship surveys – a more traditional approach to understanding how our customers feel. We send relationship surveys at fixed periods and they have multiple questions. The downside to using relationship surveys to manage customer experience is that we send them when we are thinking about our customers, not when our customers are thinking about us. As a result, the transactional survey was born.
Transactional surveys – also called micro surveys or in the moment surveys. The two question surveys give our customers the opportunity to quickly tell us how they are feeling in the moment. Comprising two questions – how do you feel and why – they collect data from individual touchpoints.

Unsolicited feedback

However, we needn’t rely on surveys to understand our customers. Either manually or using technology we can gather feedback from online reviews, social media, call centre interactions and anywhere else our customers are talking about us. To see understand the wealth of data sources, watch this video.

CX Measures

Customer satisfaction
– Answers the question ‘how satisfied are you’ can be used in relationship and transactional surveys.
Net promoter score aka NPS
– This popular measure asks ‘how likely are you to recommend us?’. Research shows that businesses with a higher NPS score enjoy greater business success. Best used in relationship surveys as customers rarely decide whether to recommend you on their experience of one touchpoint.
Customer Effort Score
– While less commonly used this measure, asking ‘how easy was it to buy from us’, is a good predictor of churn. Change ‘buy’ to the action your customer takes. Can be used in relationship surveys, but generally more meaningful at a transactional level.

Business measures

If you understand the drivers of experience, you can use business measures to predict experience and improve it. Some operational metrics can stand as proxies for experience, but generally we have to see measures from a customer’s perspective. For example, you might measure delivery times from the point you place an order with a delivery partner, but your customer is counting from the moment they placed their order.

Other business measures, such as complaints, returns, churn, cost of sales, reputation can let you know you have a problem, you will need other data to understand the problem, choose a solution and predict the impact of your actions.

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

We use Journey Maps to understand our current experience (as-is) or to design an ideal experience (to-be).

An as-is Customer Journey Map describes what happens as your customers move from having a need to ending their relationship with you. It describes each touchpoint from the customer’s perspective.

A to-be Customer Journey Map helps teams design an experience that meets all customer needs.

Creating either map brings your teams together and helps them understand how they contribute to CX singularly and in combination.

You can map the whole experience end-to-end or focus on a sub-journey – such as the buying experience. However, you must test your assumptions about the journey with customers.

Using your journey map

Maps help you identify moments of truth and opportunities to fix, improve or transform your customer experience. When designing internal process, your journey map should be a reference point. Then you can test and understand the impact of internal change on your customers – you may even find new ways of meeting customer needs.

Desire Paths

When designing parks, planners watch how people use the space. Only after understanding their customers do they lay pavements and other features.

“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them … that we must fit our plans.” Jane Jacobs

How does that compare with how you design your customer journey?

desire path

Who should own customer experience?

Marketing has a good claim. Marketers use lots of data. They know your customers and look after many customer-facing metrics. But marketing uses customer data to sell more. In customer experience we use data to serve our customers better.

Some companies appoint a Chief Experience Officer (other titles are available). This role has authority and can influence right across the business. To succeed, they need a team; here’s my take on the roles involved.

The CX team
Chief Experience Officer
– a board level executive who leads your business to meet customer needs
– can unite cross-functional teams to transform business culture, goals, measures and processes
Core team
– the people whose only job is to fix, improve, transform and create customer experience
– as well as CX specialists you may include project, change, data and HR specialists
– this team must be able to inspire the wider organisation
– one kind of associate is functional / team representatives (reps)
– the reps raise issues to the core team and CEX, for example, customer feedback
– they contribute to problem definition and lead solution design
– the other associates are specialists (internal and external)
– specialists possess skills you need for specific activities and projects. For example, a graphic designer or friendly-neighbourhood Customer Experience Consultant.
Extended team
– in successful businesses, everyone is accountable for customer experience
– so, everyone has targets and goals that will deliver a compelling customer experience
– and everyone receives communications and training
– most of all, everyone’s view on customer experience impacts customers – so the core team must listen and be ready to influence

What does outside in actually mean?

Outside in, as opposed to inside out, comes from the idea of customer centricity – putting the customer at the heart of the organisation. Organisations mature as they use CX tools and techniques. Initially outside in thinking can be as simple as putting aside your biases as you read customer feedback, using customer requirements in the design of products, services and touchpoints. Ultimately outside in thinking focuses on the customer as the sole reason for being.

I believe that goes too far and ignores the motivations, aspirations and expertise of the business, its people and its stakeholders. For me, a balance between outside in and inside out is necessary to engage our employees and be successful as a organisation.

For example, customer journey must reflect the experience of the customer. So they are outside in. But when you want to change the way your business operates to improve that experience, you need to understand and improve the way you work. And that has to be inside out.

What are moments of truth?

Also know as moments that matter. These two terms are used interchangeably and with a range of meanings.

My preferred definition is

In customer experience management, moments of truth represent the points in a customer’s journey with a brand when a key event occurs and an opinion about that brand is formed. Brian Solas

This means that moments of truth can be positive or negative.

There is school of CX that also calls these points as wow moments. This schools subscribes to a definition somewhat like this one about employee engagement from brand experiences:

Moments that Matter (sometimes called ‘Moments of Truth’, or ‘Wow Moments’) are opportunities to surprise and delight an employee and make them feel all warm and gooey towards their employer. These should be peppered throughout the Employee Lifecycle.

I feel the second definition assumes that the business knows what makes customers / employees all warm and gooey. It also runs foul of the Kano model.

Whichever definition you use, just make sure everyone knows what you mean when you say – “this is a moment of truth”.

How does CX compare with other customer centric methodologies?

Let’s be honest, the difference between customer experience and the range of similar sounding tools and methods is confusing. I suspect that all the people that talk about customer have more in common that they have different. So here is a simple set of comparisons. I hope they help you work out which you need or if you would rather just speak to a practitioner who puts your needs first.

Customer satisfaction vs customer experience (CX)

Customer satisfaction is a one measure of experience. Customer satisfaction is also the term used in Quality Management to mean the satisfaction of customer needs. It is an older concept than CX which is richer and more nuanced.

User experience vs customer experience (CX)

If any part of your customer experience uses technology, user experience (UX) is vital. While not the only factor, UX has the potential to make or break your CX. Unfortunately, UX is sometimes used to drive customers through a sales funnel and is more about sales goals than satisfaction.

Customer service vs customer experience (CX)

Customer service is how we manage something less than perfect in the customer experience. You may answer a question your website doesn’t cover, or resolve an issue with your product or service. Organisations intent on delivering a compelling customer experience invite customers to ask for support. They do this because most dissatisfied customers say nothing and move on.

I have heard people say that customer service is transactional excellence, and customer experience is relationship excellence. While you need good relationship skills to excel at transactions and a relationship alone can only take you so far, I think this is a useful differentiator.

Customer success vs customer experience (CX)

Customer success focuses on maximising the value customer gain from your products and services. It often sits with account management and has the goal of preventing churn and maximising revenue. Customer success and customer experience use similar techniques with similar aims.

Digital experience vs customer experience (CX)

Consumers and a growing number of B2B buyers want to choose how to interact with you. So, if you don’t have a phone line, email address and chat facility you could lose customers. Digital experience thinks about the devices and apps you use to serve your customers. When a customer uses several digital tools for the same conversation, they expect a seamless experience. This is called omni-channel.

Voice of the Customer (VOC) vs customer experience (CX)

VOC is the key to delivering a compelling customer experience (learn more about the Voice of the Customer here). Without feedback no-one can truly know what their customers are thinking and feeling. VOC comes in all shapes and sizes. You might survey your customers, they could talk about you on social media, call centres overflow with insights, or you could run a panel.

But listening to customer feedback is a waste of time if you take no action!

Total customer experience vs customer experience (CX)

What is Total Customer Experience? In the last few years this term has appeared to correct misunderstandings about customer experience.

Total Customer Experience emphasises two important points. The first is that customer experiences start with awareness and end only with the end of the relationship; therefore, everyone is accountable for delivering a compelling customer experience.

The second is that customer experience is more than the sum of all the touch points; those interactions have to be consistent and seamless.

Reputation management vs customer experience (CX)

If you have suffered from fake reviews or something went wrong and you have fixed it, reputation management can be invaluable.

However, if you use reputation management to give an overly positive impression of your customer experience, you are on a hiding to nothing.

Reputation management is reactive and smooths the implications of a miserable experience. But it does nothing to improve the way you interact with your customers. Overused, customers see it as manipulation. Building a compelling customer experience relies on more than reputation management.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience (cx) is what happens between you and your customers. Explore key measures and related activities.
Read more

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After our confidential, 30-minute consultation, you will…

  • See a path to managing customer experience to drive product, service and touchpoint improvements
  • Feel confident you and your team can continuously improve
  • Be keen to get ahead of your competitors by delighting your customers
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