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Where do above-average customer experiences start?


Many managers have come to the conclusion that the "how" of a customer experience is just as important as the "what". But how do you design outstanding customer experiences? So many years the focus was on the product and its marketing. You could rely on proven methods and well-founded key figures. But a great product is just not enough, the experiences surrounding it, are central. How do you reliably find out what customers really want? You hear about emotions, you see new fancy methods, sometimes great things come about and often not.

Part 1: A well-founded analysis has always been a good starting point, that's still the case.

In the first step towards creating above-average customer experiences, you have to look at the experiences from the customer's point of view. Sounds trivial, but astonishingly often it is done wrong. On closer inspection, the results are not very meaningful, and resources are therefore allocated in the wrong place. All people involved must have the courage to face the honest feedback of the customers and not model a survey that delivers the answers they would like to hear. I’ve seen this pitfall way too often and it’s usually not bad will. It’s just very hard to put aside one’s business interests. Two points are particularly important in your analysis:

1. Analyse the entire Customer Journey

It is particularly important to analyse the entire Customer Journey, not just individual touchpoints or interactions. A Customer Journey consists of a series of touchpoints and interactions that are perceived by customers as an overall experience. It may well be that individual interactions in surveys do well, but customers are still dissatisfied with the overall experience. A McKinsey study confirms this1: the correlation between customer journeys and business results is significantly stronger than that of touchpoints.

 

Therefore, you have to understand the Customer Journeys completely from the customer's perspective from beginning to end. This is where the first change of perspective takes place: When does the Customer Journey really begin? Let’s take the example of a hospital: when does the Customer Journey begin for the patient? When the patient enters the building? At the reception desk? When the ambulance brings him in? No, the moment the customer notices: "S***, there's something wrong with me". That can be hours, months or even years before. Everything that happens in between has an influence on the behaviour and expectations of the customers and thus also on their evaluation of the hospital's services.

2. Explain why customers show different behaviour

The Customer Journey tells us with its steps "how" the customer behaved. But the most important question in a customer journey analysis is the "why". Different customers can perceive and evaluate identical steps quite differently. An analysis must be able to explain this. Only when you have understood why customers behave in a certain way, you have a well-founded Customer Journey and Persona analysis. If a customer journey doesn't have several emotion curves, I would take a closer look at the analysis and survey method. It is also worth taking a closer look at the analysis, if there are more than a handful (3-4) personas or if they have sociodemographic characteristics (age, sex, income, ...) instead of behaviour-based characteristics (basic needs, goals).

What are the benefits of a well-founded Customer Journey analysis?

  •  A deep understanding of the most important Customer Journeys enables an organization to design processes and services around the different needs and behavior patterns of the personas.
  • Human Centered Design Methods and Design Thinking Workshops are much more effective. Because you don't poke around in the fog. With a well-founded analysis, you know exactly where to start and often customers already provided you with ideas on what the solution could be. Prototyping and iterations are therefore often more successful, because you already have a very good understanding of what the customer needs.
  • Understanding the customer's experiences and needs throughout the entire customer journey also helps the organization to remain focused and to work on the solutions across silos.

The survey and the analysis are in themselves a great experience if you are simply curious and enjoy the insights. If the analysis is good, it lasts for years and provides many ideas and opportunities for improvement and redesign. It is the foundation for above-average customer experiences.
 
Let me know your thoughts on this topic!

 

1https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/the-ceo-guide-to-customer-experience


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