Measuring the Redefined Customer Journey

 

Infinity Diagram_Layer5_Metrics

“You can’t manage it if you don’t measure it,” has been a business cliché for decades. It’s not a sentiment everyone agrees with, as not everything worthwhile can be measured; but measurements can provide useful insights to trends and behavior patterns. So how does measurement (or lack of it) relate to the redefined customer journey I’ve been blogging about over the last few months?

So far we’ve looked at four different aspects of the customer journey: the customer perspective, company activities, departments, and the systems involved.

The final level examines the means to measure and manage the return on the investment in a continuous customer engagement strategy by linking various key performance indicator (KPI) metrics to different stages of the engagement.

Typical measurements used in the various stages of the customer journey include KPIs such as:

Net Promoter Score: NPS is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale

Revenue: The income that a business has from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers

Total Cost of Ownership: TCO is usually a summation of the total cost of acquisition and operating costs plus any costs related to replacement or upgrades to a product at the end of its useful life

Return Rate: Usually expressed as a percentage of the number of products sold that are returned

Call Resolution Time: Within a support group, this measures the elapsed time between a customer reporting a problem and the issue being reported as being resolved. Most support groups have target resolution times to meet, and the duration of those target may vary depending on the customer’s status

Churn: Measures the proportion of contractual customers or subscribers who leave a supplier during a given time period. It is a possible indicator of customer dissatisfaction or issues with the overall customer experience

Likes / Impressions: Usually a collection of Web and Social Media metrics such as page views, followers, and the number of posts that receive comments, likes, or are shared online. All of which contribute to an overall Brand Equity, or a measure of how the overall brand, its promise, products, and experience are perceived

This is not an exhaustive list above, you may be using other ways to measure and manage customer interactions. Yet whatever measurements are used they tend to be the indicator of success (or failure) for individual operational departments or groups, and rarely, if ever, looked at in a holistic way to provide and overall measurement of customer satisfaction. It’s possible that you could be scoring highly in specific categories, yet still deliver a poor overall customer experience due to a disconnected journey.

By looking at customer related metrics as part of an overall ecosystem rather than separate KPIs it allows you to develop a clearer picture of a customer’s overall journey and their lifecycle value.

The Redefined Customer Journey – Remove System Friction

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The customer journey is being redefined in the digital age from a linear process to an ongoing loop of BUY then OWN with the companies you choose to deal with becoming more and more engaged in every part of the cycle.

So far in previous posts I’ve discussed what that on-going loop looks like from a customer perspective and how the loop model aligns the customer’s activities to those of the organization, and which departments need to work together to deliver the continuous connected experience.

As we continue to dig deeper into the journey map the fourth layer (above) connects the departmental level activity to the typical enterprise systems that record, drive, and promote the various aspects of the customer’s journey. These processes and systems have to interact. Technology bridges need to be established to allow data to flow between them to ensure a consistent experience and to maintain a relevant, valued engagement. The platforms in use must promote a sufficient degree of interoperability that allows the multiple interactions to work together.

But unfortunately the truth is that they rarely do. How many times have you transitioned from trying to do something on a website, had to call a help desk to get your goal completed and they already know your account details and what you want to accomplish? Rarely, if ever. It shouldn’t be that way.

I recently moved house and needed to change my address on various accounts. Simple I thought; just go on the various companies’ websites, open my profile, and edit the details. In most cases that worked, but in a few cases I had additional questions and needed to make a call.

With one credit card company I had a question about why my statements had stopped being delivered. The call went something like this:

Automated System: Please state your name.

Automated System: Say or input your account number.

Automated system: What’s your account safeword?  (Note not the account password, but a separate “safeword” I set up when I opened the account years ago and have never needed to use since – of course I had no idea what it was).

Me: I have no idea.

The Automated System passed me on to a Call Center employee.

Call center: How can I help you?

Me: I need to change my address and I have a question about my statements.

Call center: What’s your account safeword?

Me: I have no idea.

Call center: I have to pass you on to our security team.

Wait while call is transferred.

Security team: How can I help you?

Me: I need to change my address and I have a question about my statements.

Security team: What’s your account safeword?

Me: I have no idea, that’s why I was passed to you.

Security: OK I can help you with that. What’s your name and account number? (Information I had keyed in the automated system at the start of the call and which the first call center person had).

After some back and forth we eventually got the “safeword” thing sorted out.

Security: I’ll hand you back to the customer service so they can set up your payment plan?

Me: Sorry? What payment plan? I just need to change my address and I have a question about my statements.

Security: Oh. Hang on.

Wait while call is transferred. – Get a different customer service rep.

Customer service: How can I help you?

Me: I need to change my address and I have a question about my statements.

Call center: What’s your account safeword?

Me: You have got to be kidding me!

To cut a very long story short I eventually got my address changed and asked about my statements not getting delivered. You guessed it, I got transferred yet again to a different department and went through the same run around. It turned out that when the account hit zero balance they stop sending statements. When I pointed out that it might be nice if they sent the account holder an email to let them know about that policy, or put something on the statements themselves, or even their website; I received a “oh that’s a good idea” response. An idea I doubt will get passed on as I’m sure billing and the website content are yet two more siloed operations.

Ideally silos between systems such as the ones I encountered need to be broken down, but as a minimum they should be bridged by data sets that can be easily transferred. Such data sets should reflect the information to support the customer at any given point in their journey and grow incrementally in detail as the customer progresses through their series of interactions with the company. Ideally at no point should a customer have to provide information that they have already supplied earlier in the process. It’s all about removing the friction from the process.

The processes and systems you employ shouldn’t define the customer experience, they should support it.

Customer Journey Redefined – The Departmental View

infinity-diagram_layer3_department-1050x525

The customer journey is being redefined in the digital age from a linear process to an ongoing loop of BUY then OWN, with the companies you choose to deal with becoming more and more engaged in every part of the cycle.

So far in previous posts I’ve discussed what that ongoing loop looks like from a customer perspective and how the loop model aligns the customer’s activities to those of the organization. As we dig deeper into the journey map it’s time to take a look at what parts of the organization are directly involved.

The third layer highlights the various departments involved in the continuous customer engagement model. It is no longer sufficient to leave customer relations to the sales or support groups. Customer experience is now a mission-critical, cross-functional activity. As Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute says, “It is the totality of all the individual experi­ences that make up a Customer’s experience.”

It can be argued that customer experience and responsibility for the customer journey is the remit of the company as a whole, and it’s a good axiom, but in actuality it tends to primarily fall within the following areas: Marketing, Sales, Finance, Distribution, Operations, Services, Support, and Customer Care.

Delivering and supporting a positive customer experience is all about removing the friction from the process. The smoother the transition from department to department, the easier something is to do, the better the experience. This means that each department should invest in the overall customer experience, not only in terms of systems, but in terms of training, education, and a commitment to customer advocacy.

As outlined in a previous post, serving your customers across a continuous digital experience journey maximizes Customer Lifecycle Value and increases revenue potential. The more other departments invest and buy in to the overall concept of a frictionless process, the greater the experience and the greater the customer’s investment.

The benefits from committing to a combined, systematic approach to growing Customer Lifecycle Value across the enterprise include:

  • Increased customer retention rates
  • Increased customer satisfaction scores
  • Increased revenue

By taking this a step further, managing and delivering outstanding customer experiences, you will drive benefit for the customer, as well as sustainable growth across the enterprise.

The Questions you Should be Asking Along the Redefined Customer Journey

Several blog posts ago I talked about the way that the customer journey is being redefined in the digital age from a linear process to an ongoing loop of BUY then OWN, with the companies you choose to deal with becoming more and more engaged in every part of the cycle.

I’ve also posted on how that on-going loop looks like from a customer perspective. But how does this relate to the activities within a company to support that experience?

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The second layer of the Continuous Customer Journey loop (above) maps the customer’s activities to those of the organization as it attracts the customer, informs, teaches, and converts the customer so they will make a purchase that then needs to be followed up by logistical operations, on-boarding and ongoing support. Winning organizations also use engagement assets, such as loyalty programs, to up-sell and cross-sell to the existing customer, thereby generating revenue at a lower cost of sales

Although the overall experience is continuous it is made up of 11 distinct stages:

Attract: Before any relationship with a customer can be built, it is essential to first make potential customers aware of the company and attract them to find out more. Do people in your potential market know you exist?

Inform: The company should then inform any potential clients about the products and/or services they offer. It’s surprising how many companies miss this step, just relying on building brand awareness without actually telling you what they do. What is it that you do?

Learn: Another step often overlooked is learning about the potential customer. In today’s digital world customers expect a more personalized experience and service that meets their particular needs and requirements. Do you know who your customers are, and why they need your products?

Convert: Perhaps the key moment of the customer journey is the transition from prospect to customer. Ensuring that the previous three steps outlined above have been well executed can ease the conversion process. Unfortunately a lot of companies are focused on this stage of conversion and see it as the culmination of the process, when in fact it is the start of a potential on-going relationship that can drive more revenue.

Transact: How easy is it to do business with your company?  Personally I’ve had too many dealings with companies that make it difficult for me to give them money – many of those companies lost my sale. The easier it is for the customer to complete a transaction the more likely they are to want to repeat the process.

Logistics: Once your customer has paid for the product and/or service how do you deliver the goods that they just paid for? Is it a quick frictionless process, or is it along drawn out experience?

Onboard: How do you make it easy for your customers to set up and start using your product? Do you welcome new customers to your company and community?

Support: Supporting your product is not just about helping to fix problems, although that is an essential part of it. Do you make it easy for your customers to own and operate your product? Do you connect with them on a regular basis? In a digital world do you use analytics and trends to be proactive with your customers? You should be supporting the customer, not just the product.

Loyalty: How do you make your good customers into great repeat customers? Loyalty programs can be a great way to do that, but they need to be proven to benefit your customers as well as the company.

Up-sell: Do you understand your customer’s needs well enough to be able to anticipate when they need to upgrade to the latest iterations of your services?

Cross-sell: Can you identify what other products from your portfolio will help your customers meet their business or personal needs? Do you know how to attract their attention and inform them about those other offerings? Have you built a solid ongoing relationship that means you can continue on the customer’s journey together?

I believe that this layer of the customer journey is best summarized in a recent tweet from Mark Hurst, the Founder and CEO of Creative Good:

“Did you know that your company has a team responsible for managing the customer experience? That team’s name is ‘the entire company’.”

The Customer’s Perspective of the Redefined Customer Journey

The digital customer journey is being redefined – it’s never been easier to buy stuff. All it takes is a few clicks of a button. But there are an almost infinite number of websites and online sources from which to make purchases. How do you choose? In today’s digital age do you simply buy something, or do you create ongoing relationships with the companies that meet your needs and provide a good experience? I’m guessing that it’s probably more of the latter.

Several blog posts ago I talked about how the customer journey is being redefined in the digital age from a linear process to an ongoing loop of BUY then OWN with the companies you choose to deal with becoming more and more engaged in every part of the cycle.

But how does that on-going loop look like from a customer perspective? Although the overall experience is continuous it is made up of 10 distinct stages:

infinity-diagram_layer1_customer

  1. Awareness: Do you know what is available in the market place that relates to your activities, business, or lifestyle?
  2. Need: Why do you buy something? It is generally to fill a business or personal need. Is it something to solve a problem, make life easier, or just to provide pleasure? Defining a need is an essential part of the purchasing process.
  3. Research: Once a need is identified and you’ve matched that need to an awareness of what is available, you will often start to ask questions. What has anyone else used or purchased to meet a similar need? In the digital world research is playing a more and more important role with the majority of purchasers doing their own research rather than engage with a sales person to get answers to questions.
  4. Evaluate: How do various products and solutions compare? What are other people’s experiences in using those products and solutions? The collective experience of a peer groups are becoming a vital part of the evaluation process in an increasingly connected social world.
  5. Buy: Once a decision has been made the ideal purchase experience should be frictionless and consistent irrespective of which channel you use to make the purchase.
  6. Delivery: This is the point where the experience moves from the BUY to OWN part of the process, and is often the point where many companies step away from the relationship with the customer. Delivery, be it digital or physical, should be well documented, well communicated, and as fast, and as efficient as possible.
  7. Use: The everyday use of a product or solution is the longest part of the customer experience, and yet is often to most overlooked. How easy is it to actually use what you have purchased? Does it meet your needs and expectations? Does the company you purchased it from provide information on its continued use, or ways to connect with other customers to compare experiences?
  8. Maintain: What is something goes wrong? How easy is it to get help, or receive product updates?
  9. Advocate: Do you talk about products, services, and solutions that you enjoy? So will your customers. Customers who have a positive experience will become brand and product advocates.
  10. Recommend: And good advocates will recommend to others. Or they will self-recommend and make repeat purchases based on having been engaged as part of a well-designed and delivered continuous journey.

The full engaged customer journey cannot be addressed by separate applications at different parts of the process. To be fully effective, it has to provide an exceptional continuous experience made up of a combination of the many different experiences and processes.

In an upcoming blog post we’ll take a look at the next layer related to the company’s activities in providing a continuous connected customer experience. In the meantime this white paper “A Better Way to Engage – Redefining the Customer Journey for a Digital World” is worth a read.

(This post was originally published on the OpenText Blog)

Redefining The Customer Journey

Management Consultant and author Peter Drucker once wrote that “the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” This may seem to be an obvious statement, but many companies traditionally focus on the first half of that statement to the detriment of the latter part. It could be argued that keeping a customer is more important than finding a new one – for a repeat customer is often an engaged customer.

As OpenText CEO & CTO Mark J. Barrenechea points out in his book, On Digital, the digital world helps you by giving you more ways to know your customer better. “Know Your Customer isn’t just a regulatory obligation, it’s a key competitive differentiator. The best way to satisfy your customer is to truly understand them. You can do this by mapping your customer journeys.”

But customer journeys are changing. The old traditional models of a singular pre-determined linear path or funnel from awareness to purchase no longer apply in a digital world where flowcharts have given way to multiple interactions at whatever point the customer wants it to be. The customer is not only driving the decision on when and how interactions are made, they are also demanding a more personalized experience.

In a recent article, CMSWire columnist John Zimmerman outlined a vision of a digital experience platform that delivers “individualized content presentation for each customer interaction.”  To achieve this vision, organizations need a better way of engaging with the customer. This requires an enhanced understanding of the customer’s journey, one that is an infinite engagement rather than a linear process.

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The process can be viewed from two different perspectives:

The Customer’s Perspective is one of a continuous experience where they BUY, then OWN (or use) a product (or service) throughout its lifecycle before repurchasing.

The Enterprise Perspective is one of a continuous process where they ACQUIRE and then SERVE a customer to lead to a level of engagement where they will acquire additional revenue from that same customer and/or more customers “through recommendation”.

The full engaged customer journey cannot be addressed by separate applications at different parts of the process. To be fully effective, it has to provide an exceptional continuous experience made up of a combination of many different experiences, processes and systems that all have to interact.

These different aspects of the journey can be grouped into five separate, but interdependent, layers:

  1. The customer’s activity,
  2. The company’s activity,
  3. The departments involved,
  4. The related business process,
  5. The associated metrics used to measure and manage the engagement.

I’ll be examining each of these layers in more detail in upcoming blog posts.

[Note: This post originally appeared on the OpenText blog.]

A Tale of Three Pubs – Customer Experience in a Culture of Assumption

An American walks into a English Pub wanting to order lunch….

It may sound like the beginning of a joke, but in fact last weekend it proved to be a good lesson in delivering customer experience. Let me explain.  In an online exchange a while back a friend of mine used the expression “a culture of assumption” when describing her frustrations at dealing with various levels of bureaucracy after relocating to another country. People just assumed that she knew which forms to fill in, or which agencies to contact. I can totally sympathize with that having gone through similar experiences when we relocated from the UK to the USA a couple of decades ago.

Last weekend we flew back to the UK for a family wedding and I noticed several examples of that “culture of assumption” on display – the written, and probably unacknowledged, concept that your customers just know how things are meant to work when dealing with your processes. From hotels, to paying for parking, to buying gas, to airline check-in procedures, there was an unstated expectation that we would just know where elevators were, where pay & display machines were located and how they worked, how to pay for gas at a pump that didn’t have a credit card reader, or which check-in line to stand in and where to drop off our bags.

So back to the pub…

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Over the weekend we went out for a pub-lunch with various family members on three occasions, all at different pubs. In each one we wanted drinks and a meal. After walking into the pub, we then had to figure out what to do next – and in each pub it was different.

  • Pub #1 – Find a table, note the table number, order drinks and food at the bar, open a tab on your credit card. Food is bought to the table. Return to the bar at the end of the meal to pay.
  • Pub #2 – Order drinks and food at the bar. Pre-pay. Get a number. Find a table. When the food is ready its taken to the bar. You go pick it up when your number is called.
  • Pub #3 – Order drinks at the bar. Let them know you are eating. Be escorted to a table in the “dining room.” A waitress takes your order and delivers the food. Return to the bar to pay at the end of your meal.

Three pubs, three different processes, three different experiences. All of them were good meals, and I wouldn’t want the pub experience to become a homogeneous standard, as it’s the differences that make the pub experience richer than the chain restaurant (especially in the UK) – BUT, none of the three pubs had anything posted to let you know how their individual lunch process worked. All it would take is a sign on or near the bar with a few steps explained.

Overall the inconsistency in ordering pub meals doesn’t seem like a big thing – but it got me thinking.

How easy is it for your customers to interact with your company / brand?

Do they have to know the way you work to achieve what they want, or do you make it easier with a guided customer experience?

Do you assume that just because you know how to do something, that your customers (or even other employees) will?