How companies can assess and plan their actual customer experience
Customer experience. The first word – Customer, it says a lot. When it comes to marketing and technology investment, the lion’s share is certainly in pre-sales with three core phases:
- Discover – that old thing called advertising, or whatever format is your paid flavour today
- Decide – content and tools to help the customer understand the product and make a decision about which one is right for their needs
- Purchase – a checkout journey using all the standard techniques to nudge us to complete the process and stay on track
It’s familiar. And that’s the problem because brands organise and measure themselves around this sales funnel. Conducting peer reviews ends up in a vicious circle where the category simply copies itself in developing these pre-sales tools.
Thanks for the cash, sorry who are you?
Then think about what the customer experience is really like once the cash register has gone ‘Kerr-Ching’. What actually happens? Today activity falls into three broad categories:
- Customer services – getting in touch, complaints
- After sales – care information
- Account services – recording my details
All sounds quite boring. Not much of an experience. Feels very much like you’ve taken my money and that’s that.
So despite CX being a continuously discussed topic, what most brands really mean is sales to prospects, with little strategy (and budget) for actual customers. Maybe this should be a new domain? PX: Prospect Experience.
In many brands the ideas people are all aligned to these PX streams; anything after that is seen as less exciting and not where the glossy photoshoots and social campaigns are being formed. But with planning out how useful a brand can be after purchase, that’s the real opportunity to provide ongoing services to develop habits… brand relationship anyone?
Does your customer experience start from the confirmation button?
Much like brands obsess with their capabilities in pre-sales, now is the time to maturity assess each dimension. I have conducted many heuristic reviews of the post-purchase experience with all dimensions being lumped under one phase – Use. But it’s not like that and, depending on the category, the expected experience ranges from the pure functional to exciting anticipation of using the thing time and time again.
The main life phase is variable depending on the product and category and it’s this phase that will provide such value to a customer that it drives excellent CXI scores resulting in the magical outcomes:
- Increase in willingness to consider the company for another purchase
- Lower likelihood to switch business to a competitor
- Increase likelihood to recommend to a friend or colleague
In almost every CX (aka PX) conversion I have with brands, this what they want to achieve in their strategy, but they continue with their focus on the pre-sales journey.
I’ve used service design thinking to illustrate to brands how they can provide real useful value and drive these outcomes, but they can’t change – the organisation model just doesn’t allow for it. It got me thinking that all this Use Phase experience should be thought about in a framework allowing a maturity assessment to take place. Then some clever data science people like WeAreCrank can tell you what the revenue opportunity is.
The four major periods of actual customer experience
In terms of relative time, the phases contain a number of dimensions. The expected experience is set not only by the category but from comparator experiences. For example, delivery tracking could be down to a single email with a range of dates, whereas Uber allows us to see in realtime using GPS where the car is. These current poor experiences might continue to be put up with but will simply continue to undermine the brand in the long term.
The tempo is set by the duration:
|Logistics: Fast (e.g. 1 week)||Onboard: Fast (e.g. 2 weeks)||Use: Slow (e.g. weeks to multiple years)||Change: Fast (e.g. 1 week to 12 weeks)|
|Dispatched||Learning||Help and FAQs||Product updates|
Thinking, feeling, doing
Is the sum total of your current customer experience a continual bombardment of sales emails? Even for a product just purchased (yes Mini, that’s you: guilty as charged).
Everything starts with your customer and how useful you are to them in helping them achieve their own goals.
For now ask yourself the following four big questions:
- Do we know what our customers want, what their pain is and how others might be attempting to alleviate some of it?
- Do we have this plotted on an experience map to understand where our gaps are?
- How are we using data to continually improve and update the experience?
- Have we conducted a competitor and comparator review – to know parity in the category, then exceed it with what’s best out there?
- The challenge may well be that you have so little time to think about these big questions given all your efforts are needed in pre-sales. Your first item therefore should be to look at a business case for the monumental loss of revenue and attempts to constantly fill the leaky bucket. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is in providing actual customer experience.
The next article in the series will look at the dimensions and detail of the logistics phase. Comments as always are welcome.