Friday, August 28, 2015

CX Journey™ Musings: Busy Work vs. Real Work

Image courtesy of myfrozenlife
Think about the things that you're doing to transform your organization and your customer experience. Are you doing busy work? Or are you doing real work?

Today's post is inspired by this quote from Thomas Edison:

Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.

Wow. Doesn't that just describe what's required to make some real improvements when it comes to customer experience transformation! defines busy work as work assigned for the sake of looking or keeping busy. defines it as work or activity performed with the intention or result of occupying time and not necessarily to accomplish something productive.

As customer experience professionals, we have no shortage of work. But are we spending time on things that matter? Or are we spinning our wheels, doing tactical things, and looking like we're making improvements - when, in reality, we're applying bandaids and simple fixes rather than making/doing meaningful overall process improvements and customer experience redesign work.

You might be doing busy work if you...
  • were moved into a CX role with no real, clear direction or support
  • were put into said CX role because "everyone does it" or "we know we need this"
  • think tactics only, not strategy
  • are not focused on customer outcomes
  • don't make improvements based on what's most important to your customers
  • don't listen to customers
  • make decisions and improvements based on what you've been told is best for the company
  • don't have executive commitment and support
  • haven't assembled a cross-functional team to drive initiatives forward
  • are working in your silo without thinking about the holistic experience
  • haven't defined and/or communicated your CX vision
  • haven't outlined a roadmap for change / change management plan
  • think you can do it alone (change the experience)

I hate to say this, but I will: (unless you're working on building your business case to get executive commitment for your customer experience transformation) if you are only trying to fix things in your corner of the world, you're doing CX busy work. Seeming to do is not doing. The customer experience goes well beyond what happens in your department, so while you're fixing the experience for the customer in one step or area, he's having a completely different, disjointed experience with another. While it may feel like you're doing something, making progress, and making an impact, you're not. It's not enough. The entire organization must be in on it, starting with executive commitment and that shift to a customer-centric and customer-focused culture.

How do you ensure that you're doing the right work and that you're set up for success? Take a look at The 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience post I wrote earlier this year. Make sure that you're not committing any of them.

Being busy and being productive are two different things. -Unknown

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Validating Your Journey Maps for #CX Design Success

Image courtesy of ~db~
Today's post is a modified version of a post I originally published on Touchpoint Dashboard's blog on March 19, 2015.

In a post from earlier this month, I wrote about the most-basic and most-important rule of customer journey mapping: maps must be created from the customer viewpoint. This is a must; otherwise we perpetuate inside-out thinking that is anything but customer-centric.

In that post, I mentioned four steps/ways to bring the customer perspective into the map:
  1. Create the assumptive map from the customer's viewpoint to begin with (using "I phrases")
  2. Validate the map with customers
  3. Infuse with the voice of the customer
  4. Add performance and importance metrics based on customer feedback
In today's post, I'm going to spend some time focusing on #2, validating your maps with customers.

Why do we need to validate maps?
Assuming you've started the exercise by building assumptive maps, you have yet to bring the customer into the process. Recall, an assumptive map is created by internal stakeholders, without customer input; it’s a map based on what stakeholders assume to be the steps customers go through to complete some task. It is, however, a common starting point for mapping. Validating with customers is the critical next step; after all, that's the whole point of mapping, to walk in your customers' shoes.

Why else?
When we validate the maps with customers, we:
  • confirm we have captured all the steps customer take
  • identify any steps that we've missed
  • identify painpoints, areas of effort, and highlights (what's going well)
  • identify key moments of truth, those make or break moments that keep customers moving forward or that cause them to deviate from the plan
  • identify gaps in the internal perception of the experience; this is a huge learning opportunity, and there is great value in doing this
How do we validate with customers?
I would recommend doing 3-5 sessions, ensuring that you get a good representation across your personas in each session; if you find that you're hearing common themes/steps across the first 2-3 sessions, then you've probably done enough. Each session should have 8-12 people, again, representing your various personas. Allow 4 hours for each session. You'll likely need to incentivize, just like a focus group.

You might also prefer to do some 1:1 interviews to validate. There are benefits to both approaches. In the 1:1 interviews, you can get an individual/unbiased perspective, while in a group setting, participants will likely bounce ideas and steps off each other, perhaps reminding others of what they may have forgotten about the process.

I'm not as big a fan of taking a more quantitative approach to validating the maps, as the logistics are a bit challenging, but I suppose you could do that in the form of a survey.

Can the validation sessions be done online or offline?
You can do them either way. With a tool like Touchpoint Dashboard or some other digital journey mapping tool, the virtual/online sessions become a no-brainer, though you can use these digital tools for in-person sessions, as well.

With whom do we validate?
Maps should definitely be validated with current customers. If you have the ability to (or if they are willing), potential and lost customers should also be included in the exercise. Make sure you've got your key personas represented, as different customers have different needs/goals/outcomes and difference experiences.

How do customers validate the maps?
Obviously, the first step is to explain the exercise to them. After that, outline the scenario that you're mapping and validating. You've likely got an assumptive map in hand, so there are two approaches that you can take to validation. The approach you take may be driven by time constraints.
  1. Show the assumptive map and let them review it and react to it, e.g., you missed a step, etc.
  2. Have them map the journey on their own
Or you might want to do both, starting with a clean slate and then identifying the gaps between the two.

What do they need to validate?
Customers should tell you the steps they take to achieve the task; the people, tools, and processes they used or interacted with; what they were thinking (needs) and feeling (emotions) at each step; and the effort each step took, so you can identify painpoints and highlights.

What next?
Once they've shared all of that with you, you'll want to capture what the ideal experience would/should be. What did they expect the process to be? Where do opportunities exist to enhance the experience? What did they like about the experience/steps to complete that task?

Don't make any promises at this point, but take it all in so that you can formulate a future state as a next step.

Just know that you can't move on to designing the future state without (a) understanding the current state, (b) identifying what works well and what doesn't, and (c) capturing expectations about how it should/could work.

I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses. -Johannes Kepler

Thursday, August 20, 2015

CX Journey™ Musings: Guiding Principles

Does your company have a clearly defined set of guiding principles?

On the heels of the Amazon "exposé," I thought I'd tackle a slightly different angle of the story. I'm not going to weigh in on what's happening there - I don't work there, so I have no idea. Besides, there are always three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth, right? Somewhere in between all of it lies the truth about what's really happening behind the scenes. The only thing I will say is this: the employee experience drives the customer experience; and we know their customer experience rocks.

OK, on to the subject at hand: guiding principles. What are they? Quite simply, they are beliefs or philosophies that guide the organization through everything it does. They help employees understand what's right and what's wrong. They outline how employees are expected to act and behave. They help employees make decisions and do the right thing; when faced with a challenge, they can first question, "Is my intended action in line with our guiding principles?"

The first article I read about issues at Amazon's workplace called out the 14 principles that outline how their employees are expected to think and act. They're called leadership principles, and they state that leaders...
  1. are customer obsessed
  2. take ownership and never say "that's not my job"
  3. invent and simplify
  4. are right, a lot
  5. hire and develop the best
  6. insist on the highest standards
  7. think big
  8. have a bias for action
  9. are frugal
  10. learn and are curious
  11. earn trust
  12. dive deep; no task is beneath them
  13. have backbone, disagree and commit
  14. deliver results
I don't know. Those sound like pretty solid principles to me. I'd work for a company with those principles. Before you accept employment from a company, be sure your principles align with theirs. My guess is, no one at Amazon had issues with those 14, nor should they.

But here's the rub...

The interesting thing about guiding principles is just that ... they are guiding, they guide. How they are communicated, interpreted, and executed seems to be the problem. Bruce Lee said: Obey the principles without being bound by them.

And perhaps that's where Amazon ran/runs into issues, should the other side of the story contain some truth. Did someone get a bit overzealous? Are they being "enforced" in a way that's unbecoming of the intended outcomes?

What do you think? How do your guiding principles affect employee behavior? Are they referred to often?

Everyday, you will make millions of choices - subconscious and conscious. Your choices will reflect who you are. Who you wish to become should affect nearly all of such choices — allow it to. -Unknown

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Moments of Truth

Image courtesy of symphony of love
Do you know the moments of truth for various tasks customers attempt to achieve with your organization?

Before you can know or identify your moments of truth, you must first know what that means.

So, like I usually like to do, I'll start by defining the concept. defines moment of truth as an: instance of contact or interaction between a customer and a firm (through a product, sales force, or visit) that gives the customer an opportunity to form (or change) an impression about the firm. states that a moment of truth is a critical or decisive time on which much depends; a crucial moment.

And, contrary to popular belief, Jan Carlzon did not come up with the phrase when he wrote his book by the same name. The phrase was first introduced by Richard Normann, who was a strategy consultant for SAS when Carlzon was CEO. Normann defined it as that moment where quality as perceived by the client is created.

While Carlzon did't coin the phrase, he popularized it with his book. Carlzon's definition of "moment of truth" is: anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression. In his book, he states that those moments determine whether the company will succeed or fail and that they are moments when companies must prove to their customers that they are the best alternative.

So, you get the idea; it's an important moment. I usually define moment of truth as that make or break moment in the customer journey, that moment when, if all goes well, the customer will continue the journey and complete the task or interaction; he will do (or continue to do) business with you. If things go awry, he will not complete the interaction and will go elsewhere.

I don't agree with Carlzon that every touchpoint, every interaction, is a moment of truth. I think he's right that every touchpoint is an opportunity to form an impression, but I don't think every touchpoint becomes a make-or-break point. Think about the customer journey to purchase a product online, for example. Is every step, every touch critical? No. Every step is certainly important to the process, but there are only a few that will ultimately be make-or-break points for the customer to want to (a) complete that transaction and (b) buy again.

Let's take a closer look at Normann's definition. I'd never heard "moment of truth" described using this definition of value or posing it in terms of value creation; it's an interesting way of looking at it.  This video by FutureSmith explains Normann's definition and the value-creation concept further.

In the video, the narrator (Don Smith) presents the concepts of vicious circles and virtuous circles created by failed and successful moments of truth, respectively.

A vicious circle occurs when failed moments of truth form a chain reaction; he states that once a company slides into a vicious circle, it's difficult to get out of it. A vicious circle is defined by negative, defeatists attitudes that create a toxic culture where customers are considered the enemy and are hated and ridiculed.

The opposite is true in a virtuous cycle, which happens when successful moments of truth propagate more successful moments of truth, i.e., the positive energy from one interaction spreads to the next and creates more successful moments of truth. Customers who experience positive, successful moments of truth are positive going into future moments of truth - and they tell others about their experience. Employees feel good because they feel valued, and they are part of a contagious positive energy that is hard to extinguish.

Either way you slice it - vicious or virtuous - those moments of truth are moments that matter; they matter to the customer, first and foremost, but they subsequently matter to your employees and, ultimately, to your business.

So let's go back to my original question: have you identified your moments of truth? If not, identify tasks that your customers are trying to complete and map the journey. (And act on your findings!) What happens along the way that causes customers to stay? to flee? If you know what they are, then what are you doing to execute them flawlessly?

I guess they're called moments because they don't last very long. -Sarra Manning, author

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Most Important Rule of Journey Mapping

Image courtesy of Culture Republic
Today's post is a modified version of a post I originally published on Touchpoint Dashboard's blog on March 9, 2015.

Creating a customer journey map is an important first step when it comes to your customer experience transformation.

Notice the word that I used a couple times in that sentence: "customer."

So, it's no surprise, then, that the most important thing to do when mapping the customer journey is to do it from the customer's viewpoint, right? And yet so many companies create an assumptive map and then leave it at that. An assumptive map, by the way, is a map that we build with internal stakeholders and is based on what we assume to be the steps customers go through to achieve some task with the organization. This is fine to do, but we must then take that map and bring the customer perspective into it. We think we know the steps, but customers are best equipped to tell us their journeys. Often, the most important parts of the journey happen between the touchpoints, and customers are the ones who can and need to tell us about those parts.

We also need to make sure we capture what the customer is thinking and feeling, and he is the only one that can tell us that. What he’s thinking and feeling are important to identifying those key moments of truth, those make or break points on the journey. The map is a catalyst for your CX transformation – and identifying those points is critical to doing that.

There are four steps/ways to bring that perspective into your map:
  1. Make sure that you create that assumptive map from the customer's viewpoint to begin with. How? Here's a tip to get your team thinking in the customer’s voice: plot the steps using what I call "I phrases," i.e., I entered my username and password to log into my account; I clicked the link to pay my bill; I then selected the dollar amount of my payment, etc.
  2. Then validate the map with customers, using both quantitative and qualitative research. Through validation, we confirm that these are the customers’ steps.
  3. Next, bring  the maps to life by infusing the voice of the customer. Bring customer data and feedback into the touchpoints to really accentuate the pain, effort, or highlights of the touchpoint. You can even add metrics, e.g., customer effort score, to a touchpoint, which is my fourth point.
  4. Score touchpoints (on performance and importance) to prioritize improvements and resource allocation – again, based on customer feedback
The most important rule of journey mapping: it's critical to create maps from the customer's viewpoint and to bring in the customer voice. How many of these are you utilizing as you create your maps?

Whoever understands the customer best wins. -Mike Gospe