According to a report by the customer experience consulting firm Walker, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. While companies understand the importance of customer experience, many don’t know how to make improvements.
Preparing for Customer Experience Design
Customer research is the first thing you should focus on when designing your customer experience strategy. How can you design a customer experience if you don’t know who your customers are?
Developing a persona is the first step in the research process. A persona is a ‘character’ developed through research, to represent a common group of people. By developing 1-5 personas of your customer base, you can better understand the psyche of your customers and build experiences for your most valuable segments. If you start with building empathy and understanding the profile of your key customer segments, you have a way to connect with them so that everyone has a shared understanding of their demographic profile, behaviors, and pain points. The persona should include an image of the imaginary customer, demographic profile, attributes and motivations, needs, pain points, and actual customer quotes. To create the persona(s) you should conduct customer interviews and analyze and theme your data to draw meaningful insights that relate to various customer types.
An empathy map is a tool used to better understand the needs of customers. It allows teams to provide a complete picture of the customer and what actions they might take as a result of their beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. Empathy mapping uses 4 quadrants labeled as ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘say’, ‘do’ to help make sense of different aspects of the customer’s experience and preferences.
Stakeholder management is the process of understanding the attitudes of stakeholders before initiating a potential change with the goal of developing alignment and collaboration between the various groups. Stakeholder planning helps to identify stakeholders’ needs and interests, mechanisms to influence stakeholders, potential risks, key people to keep informed about changes, and negative stakeholders and their adverse effects on the change. Map stakeholders into the 4 quadrants to determine the best engagement strategy:
- Supporters (high support, low influence) Involve supporters with the project team to leverage their enthusiasm
- Champions (high support, high influence) Keep champions close as project partners who can help to influence other stakeholders
- Gatekeepers: Major Risks (low support, high influence) Investigate concerns from this group and leverage champions to improve their support
- Bystanders (low support, low influence) Keep this group well informed via mass communications
Mapping the Customer Experience
Once you fully understand your customer you’re ready to start mapping out the customer journey. This is when you get into the customer’s mind as they’re interacting with your product/service.
Before you set up a customer project, you need to align your stakeholders on the primary intent., so you can clearly define the set boundaries to explore. This enables you to focus your team’s thinking to drive the right action. It removes any assumptions within a project statement to guide clear direction. To set up a customer project or initiative, you need to spend time understanding and defining your customer challenge. A focusing challenge will help you to clearly define your future state vision or challenge and communicate the intent across the business. Use this formula: (Who) can (do what) so that (why: the outcome).
Customer Journey Mapping
A Customer Journey Map is a design tool that provides a view of the end-to-end experience of your customers. It is a way of visually illustrating customers’ processes, needs & perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with your organization. The Customer Journey Map outlines customer needs, pain points, opportunities and different interaction points which accumulate to build a comprehensive “journey” based on their experiences. To create a customer journey map, pick a persona and map out the key steps across the journey. Once you fully map the customer experience, identify pain points and use the 5 Why’s model below to determine the root cause.
5 A’s Customer Journey Mapping Framework
The 5 A’s Customer Journey Framework is a way of depicting the key interactions throughout the end-to-end customer lifecycle. It is an engaging framework used to organize the key stages a customer goes through as they become aware of your organization right through to exiting or extending the relationship. This alternate approach to Customer Journey Mapping helps organize the themes for analysis through both the eyes of the Customer (above the line) and your organization (below the line) – exploring key touch points, systems, processes, pain points and opportunities.
The 5 A’s are:
- Attract– How are customers attracted to and informed of the service or product?
- Accept– How does the customer enter into dealings with your organization?
- Adopt– How does the customer interact throughout the entire experience?
- Amplify– How do you leave the customer feeling at the end of the interaction?
- Advance– How do you follow up with customers and extend the current relationship?
Building the Future State Experience
The future state experience is crucial because it allows you to envision what you want your customers to think and feel when they’re experiencing your product.
The 5 Why’s is a simple, yet powerful problem-solving tool that works to engage teams in understanding the root cause of simple issues. Once you have identified your root cause, you still need to prove or disprove it using data. When you investigate you might find that it’s not what you thought. Start by writing down a specific problem statement or pain point your team is trying to solve, ask the question of ‘why’ the problem occurs, and write down the answer below the problem. Then keep using the why question to the previous answer, until you get to the real cause of the problem.
Brainstorming is a structured technique used to apply a different way of thinking to generate and explore new ideas. Brainstorming is traditionally done as a collaborative effort, by bringing together the right people with the right knowledge to help solve your problem. To get the most out the session and the people involved, brainstorming works best when you first apply divergent thinking without limitations, then converge on appropriate ideas to explore in more detail. This means considering all angles, before narrowing on designing a solution that best meets the needs of your customers.
The four main brainstorm techniques are:
- Classic– Generate as many ideas as possible and score all
- What If?– Ask “what if” three times. For example, for a problem of high customer turnover ask “what if we halved the price?”
- Wrong Way– Deliberately try to generate bad ideas. For example, if you were trying to improve customer retention, ask “what could we do to drive our customers away?
- Risky Options– Concentrate on the issues that matter most, and thus generate better ideas. People are often discouraged from suggesting seemingly wild or risky ideas which might lead to the best solution because they fear failure or group criticism.
Experience Design Development
The experience design process is a method to further develop initiatives subsequent to your customer journey mapping and opportunities brainstorming session. This agile process ensures unproven ideas are stopped and retired, and viable ideas are further developed into a business case to incite action. The methodology is: we believe (describe the new experience), will solve (customer’s needs and organizations issue/opportunity), enabled by (full solution), resulting in (new attitude/behavior/result). Run each opportunity through the design tool to further develop each opportunity and then rank each opportunity in terms of its customer and business value.
By designing a CX strategy for your business you can better understand the customer and meet their needs. To learn more about designing a CX strategy for your business, download the Customer Experience Design Toolkit.