Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CEM Toolbox: Defining Your Customer Experience

I originally wrote today's post for Delight's blog on May 9, 2013.

In my previous post, I talked about the tools that you’ll need to facilitate the first step of your VOC strategy, Setting the Stage. In today’s post, I’ll offer insights to help as you take on the next step, defining your customer experience. This step involves outlining the customer experience from a variety of angles, including defining who your customers are, identifying and prioritizing customer segments, outlining the customer experience lifecycle, and mapping the customer journey.

I’ve provided some links to sample tools and documents, where appropriate, and given very rough estimates for timing to complete each. Of course, timing depends on availability, resources, and support – hopefully my last post provided some ideas to help on that front.


Tools to Define the Customer Experience
Customer Personas
: Personas are characters you create to represent the various types of customers that (might) buy from you or that use your products or services. These personas are built based on conversations or interviews with customers and prospects. The interviews allow you to learn more about the customer: his needs, goals, behaviors, demographics, motivations, etc. Importantly, you are trying to understand what jobs they are trying to do with your company. Each persona is described in detail based on the unique characteristics that comprise it. Once you understand who your customers are, you are better able to create and target messaging, design products and services, and deliver a more-personalized experience.

HubSpot offers some great details about personas, sample interview questions, and a persona template. Defining your personas could take several weeks to complete, depending on how quickly you can complete your customer interviews.

Customer Journey Map: A map (many maps) that outlines the customer lifecycle or stages that a customer goes through – and the touchpoints they interact with – with your company (i.e., brand, product, service) as they are trying to achieve some goal or do some job; it is created from the customer perspective. Know that you could actually create hundreds of maps to represent your customers’ journeys with your organization, but you’ll likely create one master map (with many sub-maps) and prioritize customers/journeys to focus on. Customer journey maps are the backbone of your entire customer experience management strategy.

A great online tool for building customer journey maps is Touchpoint Dashboard; I’ve used this platform, and it’s extremely user-friendly and intuitive, yet powerful. Building a journey map is not a “one and done” effort; it’s an ongoing process, so it’s tough to put a timeframe around this. To build the original strawman version of the map, especially using a tool like Touchpoint Dashboard, might take you a day. To build out the map with all of its components might takes several weeks to complete.

Other Maps: Service blueprints and process maps are also great tools to use during this stage. Process maps outline the back office or backstage processes to what customer's experience along the customer journey and can be part of service blueprints, which, according to Service Design Tools, are operational tools that describe the nature and the characteristics of the service interaction in enough detail to verify, implement and maintain it.

Program Roadmap: This document outlines how you’ll design and execute your VOC strategy – how you’ll get from where you are to where you want to go. It will house all the details you’ll need to build the framework for your efforts; as a matter of fact, you’ll put the outputs or deliverables of most of the tools already mentioned (and those yet to be addressed) into your roadmap. It will also include this next tool…

Project Plan and Timeline: Fail to plan, plan to fail. Without solid documentation of how you’ll define and design your efforts – and a timeline to drive to – you’ll most certainly fall off the tracks somewhere down the line and be forced to start over. I’ve used tools like ProjectManager.com and MS Project in the past to create project plans and timelines. A project plan can take a day or two to create, but it’s also a living, breathing document; it needs to be updated as deadlines are met or missed.

You don't build it for yourself. You know what the people want, and you build it for them. -Walt Disney


2 comments:

  1. Annette,

    I've always struggled a bit with customer personas. Whilst I understand it is important, perhaps even critical, to know who your customers are and what they want I've always found that customer personas are too bland or average to really give me any sense of who we are serving and why.

    Do you recognise this? And if so do you have any suggestions on how to resolve the problem?

    James

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    Replies
    1. James,

      I've been talking a lot about personas lately, and I know what you mean. They are generic. And when we talk about delivering customer experiences, we highlight a delightful experience as one that is personalized. Personas don't quite get to that level of detail.

      However, having said that, they bring us down from the 30,000 foot level that "target audiences" leave us at. So, they are a step in the right direction. It seems like the next step would be to truly look at the individual.

      Annette :-)

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