Following Mandisa Makubulo's example of the power of including customers from all backgrounds and abilities, I share four tools to build empathy when designing services.
You’ve read posts, article and books. You know your business will gain from changing how you look after customers. But words like customer centricity, personalisation, emotional responses and other jargon cause your decision makers to open their eyes like bunnies in head lights, get run down or run away. They need practical ways of starting your journey to deliver enhanced customer experiences.
To form customer experience management habits, it must pay back. Not only financially, but through employee engagement and cultural changes. Use one of these five tips to kick start your activity, it’s your choice how far to go – but be warned delighting customers is addictive.
Gather your customer feedback, review and take action
If you want the jargon, we call this Voice of the Customer. It’s my favourite route into customer experience management because results are quick.
- At its simplest, Voice of the Customer recovers customer satisfaction.
- Going further, Voice of the Customer supports continuous improvement.
- Further still, customer feedback can inform the strategy and design of your products, services and customer touchpoints.
Well-executed Voice of the Customer gives insight into the future customer expectations and directs market research and development projects.
When individuals give negative feedback, and your team fixes it that customer smiles. When you have many customers, clearing their issues creates brand loyalty, hence the vast investments in customer service. However, focusing on individuals has two problems:
- the silent majority.
- resolving the same problem over and over in a bad Groundhog Day remake.
You must do more. You must involve other people and stop these issues at source.
Using customer feedback to fix products, services and customer touchpoints is the gold seal of Voice of the Customer. Instead of responding to customers piecemeal, you can prevent poor experiences, delighting more customers.
Build customer personas and use them to test and update your value proposition
Your products, services, the way you relieve customer pains and deliver gains add up to your value proposition.
Many businesses have unwritten value propositions which develop and grow over time. Unwritten value propositions cannot be shared or used as a standard in decision making. When a few people hold your value proposition in their heads, they assume customer needs and may miss the mark.
Before you can meet your customers’ needs (execute your value proposition), you need to know them. Two great workshop exercises increase understanding and help people align their day jobs to customer value. The first is the customer persona; it’s more than a marketing avatar. It goes deep into the jobs our customers are doing, their pains and the gains they hope to achieve. Notice how the persona aligns with the value proposition. To start quickly or include more stakeholder in B2B companies, use empathy mapping. The empathy map combines the customer persona and value proposition in one easy-to-use tool.
Map the customer journey
Another method to bring teams together and kickstart your customer focus is customer journey mapping. Map each customer touchpoint with your brand, products and services. Like Voice of the Customer, you can use journey maps to improve customer experience and start a cultural change in your business. In fact, customer journey maps help you frame customer feedback.
Review one product, service or customer touchpoint
Voice of the Customer, value propositions and customer journey maps may require more investment than you can afford today. Here’s a quick, direct alternative. Use data to pick a less popular product or service or a touchpoint with negative feedback. Focus on it.
- Understand the cost to your business of poor performance.
- Agree what would fix customer perceptions.
- Change your products, services and customer touchpoints to improve reviews, boost sales or turn around feedback.
Ideally, use the costs to identify the biggest bang for your buck.
Show the benefits of two or three projects, then your team will seek more.
Review a customer paper at every board meeting
The four interventions described above improve customer experience and business performance. But they depend on people having time. A ‘hearts and minds’ exercise will garner support and release resources.
Your board includes people whose first concern is money, others focus on reputation yet others put employees first. To gain everyone’s support, motivate each person with a single story:
- Share the Voice of the Customer – present written feedback, voice recordings or videos. Show your decision makers an authentic experience or ask them to experience it first-hand.
- Calculate the costs of poor customer experiences, be as specific as possible around a particular touchpoint, customer segment or issue.
- Show how customer talk about your business in public.
- Consider the impact on employees. Hard metrics such as overtime give insight, but absence / well-being, achievement of goals and other trickier metrics tell stronger tales.
- Remember to compare against operational metrics. The best customer experience teams understand the relationship between business performance and customer experience.
Don’t just present problems, recommend solutions – sometimes a fix, on other occasions a project to better understand and resolve issues.
If you are keen to improve your customer experience, any of these tips will help you start. Please be careful once you share the secret of sustained success, everyone will want more.