Friday, June 21, 2013

Walk in Your Customers' Frankenshoes!

The most important component of customer experience management is understanding the experience from the customer's point of view.

What does that have to do with a picture of my foot (to the left)? Read on to find out!

I had foot surgery three weeks ago, and for the weeks that followed, I walked around in what was not-so-affectionately dubbed my "frankenshoe." For a very active person, trust me, it was extremely annoying to be so immobile. As it usually does, stuff like this gets me thinking about the customer experience - and, of course, a new blog topic.

During my recovery (the shoe is off now, thank goodness), every step I took required a bit of effort. I needed to plan ahead if I wanted to go from point A to point B (where often point A was my office and point B was the kitchen downstairs!), pooling all my needs into one trip. This got me thinking about customer effort and the efficiency of processes customers go through to achieve what they are trying to achieve with your business.

Do you have old, outdated, or unnecessary processes that customers go through to accomplish a simple task? Do you need examples? How about that antiquated phone tree on your IVR system? Or the million clicks that customers need to go through to purchase an item online? Or the multiple calls that need to be made to get an issue resolved? Or the search for a phone number just to call your support line? Or your return process? I could keep going...

Why does it have to be that way? It doesn't have to be! The crazy part is that we are all customers, and yet, we still design these awful processes that make no sense. Why isn't it just common sense?

In the all-too-often absence of common sense, we need a plan.

The customer experience can be immediately improved by reviewing the steps your customers have to go through in order to interact with your company. Not sure where to get started? Well, honestly, it's a pretty straightforward process.
  •  Map your customer journey. Walk in your customers' shoes to identify the journey, but walk in their frankenshoes to understand their effort.
  • Listen to customers at key moments of truth. 
  • Conduct a root cause analysis to get to the heart of the matter. Surprised that it's a ridiculous process? Don't be. Just fix it now that you're aware of it.
  • Act on the feedback. Improve the processes that they say are broken or cumbersome.
  • Map your internal processes. Look at your behind-the-scenes process, too; likely they are a burden to your employees, which then trickles out to your customers and their experience.
Process improvement must be a part of your customer experience toolbox. It's time to remove broken, outdated, unnecessary, or cumbersome processes that inhibit or hinder the customer experience.

Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all. -Peter Drucker

10 comments:

  1. Annette, great post and really great points, especially this one: "we are all customers, and yet, we still design these awful processes that make no sense." Looking at business through a customer lens should be second nature and not require prompting because, as you say, we are all customers. I'm going through a home refinancing where the "agent" didn't report any progress with me in over a month, even after leaving several emails and voice messages. When I asked them to please call me once a week with an until the closing was scheduled, they asked me "How will that make you feel when I call you next week and tell you there are no further developments?" My reply was "I will feel just fantastic." I will feel like you care about me and have a handle on the process and you are keeping me, the customer, adequately informed. I didn't have the heart to delve into why they would even ask me such a question, as if updating me weekly was more of a bother on their part than offending me. I received my first update call this morning so they are now walking in my Frankenshoes, but it didn't come without me having to ask first. Let's hope there was at least a lesson learned here on their part.

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    1. Thanks, Karl. Wow! That's unbelievable. Is it possible that the agent hasn't been through a refi personally? If you've ever been through one, you know that even no information is good information - as you say, I know you care about me if you call. Ugh. It is exactly that type of behavior that makes me say: "we are all customers, and yet, we still design these awful processes that make no sense."

      Annette :-)

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    2. Hi Karl, Annette,
      This is something that has always troubled me and something that I described as the 'Jekyll and Hyde syndrome'. I wish wish more businesses would think about and treat their customers in the way that they would be like treated if they were their customers spending their own money.

      Frustrating that this happens,

      Adrian

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    3. I agree, Adrian. Just seems like there really is no reason for this to still be happening. Extremely frustrating.

      Annette :-)

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  2. Annette great post. This makes me think of the Commerce Bank approach (I think it was) of allowing employees to "Kill a stupid rule." This way employees who can see a customer or internal obstacle can nominate the bad process or rule and kill it. Helping them and helping the customer.

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    1. Thanks, Kim! Love that idea.

      Annette :-)

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    2. Kim / Annette, never heard of the "kill a stupid rule" approach (I'll google it) but I guess it is similar to GE's "Work Out" as in take the work out.

      A fantastic way to engage your staff and improve your business

      James

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    3. I googled GE's Work Out - love the concept!

      Annette :-)

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  3. Great post, loved how you used your own circumstances to come up with the "Walk in your customers' shoes" concept. Great idea

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