Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Putting the Customer into Customer Experience

Image courtesy of Shep Hyken/ABR
Let's put the "customer" into customer experience.

What does that mean?

If you’re a customer of any business on this planet, no surprise here, you know this: most companies are not really focusing on the customer and the customer experience. They might be giving it lip service, but that’s not the same as actually doing the work, understanding the customer, and designing a great customer experience as a result.

What is customer understanding? And how can you achieve it?

Customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer-centricity.

What is customer-centricity? Exactly what the word says: ensuring that the customer is at the center of a business's philosophy, operations, decisions, or ideas.

This is the main topic that Shep Hyken and I discussed recently on my second time on his Amazing Business Radio podcast. I was thrilled to be back on the show to talk about something that is top of mind for me every day: putting the "customer" into customer experience.

In order to ensure businesses are putting the "customer" into customer experience, they must first understand customers' needs, expectations, the jobs they're trying to do, and their desired outcomes. And then use that information to design a better experience. You can't fake it. You just can't

In recent research conducted by Capgemini, they discovered that 75% of companies believe they are customer-centric, while only 30% of consumers agreed. Yikes.

I've written several times that there are really three ways to achieve that understanding: listen, characterize, and empathize. Shep and I talked about these three approaches in our conversation, and as we talked about journey mapping and walking in customers' shoes, we also got to expose Shep's humorous side, as he cited the Jack Handey quote: Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes. LOL.

I'd be honored if you'd take 30 minutes to listen to our conversation. I promise it won't feel like 30 minutes! The conversation is fast-moving and fun, yet packed with a ton of information that you need to consider in order to put the customer into the customer experience.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced. - John Keats

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Why Do I Need Data in My Journey Maps?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Are you adding data to your journey maps?

Back in 2015, I wrote a post titled Hey! You Got Your Metrics in My Journey Map! In it, I advocated for mappers to add data to their journey maps. I wrote that...
...mapping tools had to evolve because people failed to see the value in mapping with the then-current approaches; in addition, maps were not proving to be that catalyst for change that they are designed to be. In order to be that catalyst, maps have to be actionable. And the only way they can be actionable is if you have some data to support or to drive that action. Executives love data and metrics, right? Data-driven decisions are all the rage, and rightly so.
What kind of data? There's no shortage of data, right?! Obviously, the data needs to be related to the journey you're mapping, but here are some examples of the types of data you can add to the map.
  • Voice of the customer/customer listening data, including reviews, ratings, diagnostics, and verbatims
  • Emotion data, especially from qualitative sources, e.g., text  and voice analytics, sentiment analysis
  • Persona data: incorporate what you learned about the persona for which you've mapped that might help you improve the overall experience
  • CX metrics, including NPS, customer satisfaction, customer effort score
  • Other customer data, including interaction, transaction, customer lifetime value, reason for call, number visits to site, where they went on the site, etc.
  • Operational/call center metrics, including agent performance, call volume, first call resolution, hold time, time to resolve, # transfers, channels used
  • Business data: for a lack of a better way to label it, this data is all about the business impact, which will then be used to prioritize moments of truth; it’s revenue, profitability, retention, cost to fix, time to fix, effort to fix, impact to fix type of data.
  • Artifacts, including call recordings, videos, invoices, receipts, pictures, documents, screenshots, etc.
Clearly, if you've started mapping with butcher paper and sticky notes, which I highly recommend, you'll need to digitize your maps and have them in a journey mapping or journey analytics platform that supports integrating various data sources into the map.

There are a lot of reasons to bring data into your maps. Data is a critical ingredient for improving the customer experience. It helps us to understand our customers, make better decisions, and deliver the experience they expect.

Other than bringing the maps to life, why incorporate data in your maps? Data helps or allows you to...
  • Measure the journey (each of the steps and the overall journey)
  • More deeply analyze the experience and facilitates understanding
  • Identify and clarify high points and pain points in the experience – what’s going well and what’s not
  • Understand where channel optimization needs to occur
  • Bring additional customer perspectives and behaviors (outside of those in the room) into the map, shifting the map and the process from one that's been fairly qualitative to more of a quantitative effort
  • Shift the perspective from inside-out to the outside-in by adding another component (data) to put the experience in the customer voice
  • Make the maps actionable
  • Add validity and credibility (because there are multiple data sources or feedback channels and because it's now quantitative rather than qualitative)
  • Identify key moments of truth
  • Prioritize improvements
These last two points are important ones to make: the maps themselves don’t identify or prioritize moments of truth. You must use feedback, data, and metrics to do that.

The world is now awash in data, and we can see consumers in a lot clearer ways. -Max Levchin, PayPal co-founder

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

6 Steps From Journey Maps to Outcomes

Did you know that journey maps are more than a tool?

I've written previously about 11 myths and mistakes about journey mapping:

5 Myths of Journey Mapping
6 Bonus Myths of Journey Mapping

I should add one more myth, which is really the umbrella myth that likely encompasses all the others:

Journey mapping is just a tool.

Nope, it's not just a tool; it's not just a workshop: it's a process. Journey mapping is a creative and collaborative process that allows you to understand – and then to redesign – the customer experience. You must view it as the process that it is, otherwise there's no point in mapping.

This diagram outlines the six-step journey mapping process I advocate.

CX Journey Inc.'s 6-Step Journey Mapping Process

At a high level, here's what each of the steps entail.
  1. Plan: This first step includes all the pre-work and prep work that needs to be done in order to get ready for your journey mapping workshop, including identifying the personas for which you’ll map, outlining the scope and the objectives of the map, determining the appropriate workshop participants, and educating the participants on what lies ahead.

  2. Empathize: This is the actual current state mapping workshop, where you'll map what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling along the journey you selected in Step 1. You'll also add data and metrics into the map to help identify moments of truth and bring the map to life with artifacts (e.g., pictures, videos, documents); identify moments of truth; and assign owners to each of the customers' steps.

  3. Introspect: Once you're done with the journey map, it's time to look inward and create a service blueprint, which outlines the people, tools, and systems that support and facilitate the customer experience, and a process map, which outlines the workflows that do the same, to correspond with the customer journey you’ve mapped.

  4. Identify: The map alone doesn't identify moments of truth; for that, you need data - and it's one of the main reasons you need to insert data into your maps. In this step, you'll prioritize moments of truth, research issues behind those broken moments, conduct root cause analysis, develop action plans, and assign owners and deadlines to the plan.

  5. Ideate: Next up, you'll conduct future-state mapping workshops - for both the customer journey and the corresponding service blueprints - during which you'll ideate solutions to customer and backstage pain points and then design the future state.

  6. Implement: And finally, it's time to get to work, time to implement the changes. Prototype and test the new design with customers – and fail fast; fix, test, and fail fast; implement the new experience; share the maps and train employees on the updated processes and the new experience to deliver to customers; close the loop with customers and let them know what's changed; and always update the maps to reflect the new current experience.
You might have thought that journey mapping was as simple as "map and done." But that couldn't be further from the truth. And that's where a lot of companies stumble with their mapping efforts.

Maps are really just the beginning; as you can see, the current state map was only the second step, with four more steps to follow! And the maps must be done right in order to be the catalyst for change that they are meant to be.

The process is not as simple as it seems. There are rules, considerations, and guidelines to adhere to in order to get it right; after all, you want to ensure that the maps provide meaningful information that will allow you to design a better experience.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. If you don't do anything with what you learn, then stop doing it. It's a waste of everyone's time. But that's not why we're here. Instead, you need to listen, learn, understand, and do something.

Now, go do it! And if you need help, I'm here. Just reach out!

Your customers don’t care about you. They don’t care about your product or service. They care about themselves, their dreams, their goals. Now, they will care much more if you help them reach their goals, and to do that, you must understand their goals, as well as their needs and deepest desires. -Steve Jobs


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How to Make Your Customer Experience Stand Out in the Experience Economy

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Chris Ryba of VHT.

To compete in today’s market, companies have to go beyond providing excellent customer service. Today, we work in an experience economy, where people are looking for a memorable business interaction, not just a successful one.

Companies like Apple have dominated the experience economy by making everything from the website to stores to packaging an Instagram-worthy event. Fortunately, you don’t have to be Apple to stand out in your industry; even small changes in the contact center can shift your service from forgettable to remarkable.

1. Build a Friendship
We all love to spend time with our social circles. In the contact center, you can give customers the pleasure of chatting with friends by treating them as friends.

Know your customer.
You expect friends to remember important information about you. And while individual agents won’t remember each caller, most contact centers have good CRM data. Use that information to call people by the names they prefer, use their favorite modes of communication and pick up seamlessly from the last conversation.

Accept responsibility.
A real friend who makes a mistake accepts responsibility and apologizes. According to a study by the W.P. Carey School of Business, call satisfaction jumped from 37% to 73% when complaining customers were treated with dignity, got an explanation of what went wrong, and received an apology.

Show customers you appreciate them.
We like to be with people who recognize our value. But 49% of customers who switch companies do so because they feel unappreciated. When people call in, acknowledge their effort and willingness to work with you. For example, agents can open with, “I see you’ve been with us for X years. Thank you!” They can also thank customers for their patience, positivity, and time.

2. Make it Easy
People love seeing a complex process operate smoothly. Consider the satisfaction of placing an online order with one click and having it delivered next day. When businesses boil difficult tasks down to one or two steps, it feels like magic.

Respect customers’ time.
Most people want to fix a problem or make a purchase and then get on with their lives. Respect their time by scheduling callbacks when queues are long or offering live chats from the website. And never ask a second time for information collected through the phone system or online.

Save them a step.
Save people work, and they’ll want to keep buying from you. For example, use a dynamic interactive voice response (IVR) system to create personalized menus based on caller needs. After complaint resolution or technical support, take the initiative and call back to ensure everything is OK.

3. Have Some Fun
Surprise customers with a little humor, where appropriate. Or if jokes hit the wrong tone, mix in some inspiration, fascination, or curiosity.

Add whimsy.
Many websites, like Forbes and Google, use wit or diversions to amuse viewers. Contact centers can do the same by sharing intriguing company history, inspiring stories, or interviews for people on hold.

Avoid clichés.
The more a contact center clings to tired norms, the more forgettable the experience. Remove any clichéd phrases such as “your call is very important to us” or “you can also visit our website.” Switch to FAQs and knowledge bases rather than strict agent scripts, so conversations feel more sincere.

Upgrade the audio.
Wooden phone prompts and tinny music make wait time crawl. Have voice prompts professionally recorded and upgrade text-to-speech. Also, consider giving the phone voice an appealing personality. People get a kick out of talking with characters like Alexa and Siri.

4. Engage Agents
No one understands customers better than front-line representatives. Mine their knowledge regularly for new ways to create a memorable customer experience (CX).

Collaborate.
Let agents work together on finding clever ways to upgrade CX. Employees can try out new ideas and help direct company-wide initiatives with first-hand knowledge.

Hire smarter.
The right people can make or break the service experience. Consider long-tenured agents that customers love. Identify their key personality traits and look for similar job applicants. Let some of those experienced agents interview new folks; they’ll have a good sense of whether someone is right for the job.

Engage agents.
Engaged employees are more relaxed, happy, and proud of what they do, and they share that attitude with callers. It’s important to recognize and appreciate agents as much as customers. A recent McKinsey study also found that giving new representatives more support in early days and providing the team with opportunities to socialize improved engagement and retention.


According to a Walker study, 86% of consumers will pay more for a memorable interaction, and by 2020, experience will outweigh price and product as the key brand differentiator. If your contact center already treats customers well, it takes just a little effort and some imagination to go from ho-hum to unforgettable.

Chris Ryba, PMP, is the Director of Professional Services at VHT. As a seasoned technology professional with over 20 years experience in the IT/Telecom industry, Ryba has been actively involved in formulating processes, procedures, and guidelines intended to streamline project lifecycles from post-sale integration kickoff through production deployment.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Employee Experience Comes First

Image courtesy of Worthix
There should be no doubt: companies must recognize that employees come first. Not at the expense of customer experience or anything else, but in the scheme of things, without a great employee experience first, the customer experience will suffer!

I had a great time talking about this and many other topics when I joined Mary Drumond and James Conrad with Worthix for their Voices of Customer Experience podcast.

Focusing on employees and making sure they have a great experience is something that I've been talking to clients and prospects about for the last 26 years. It's nice to see that this topic is finally starting to get a bit more attention.

As I mentioned, we covered a lot of ground during the 30-minute interview. We started off touching on the 10 commandments of customer experience and the 7 deadly sins of customer experience - and why I make these religious references! All in good fun.

The gist really is that these are fundamental or foundational elements that must be in place to ensure a successful customer experience transformation. You can't transform the experience if these commandments aren't adhered to and the sins aren't committed. Among the basics: executive commitment, listening to and understanding your customers, doing something with what you learn, putting employees first, and more. On this podcast, we do talk about how to get executives bought in and committed to the work that lies ahead.

From there, we talked a bit about today's typical culture pyramid, where revenue and profits are put before employees and customers - actually, customers then employees, in that order. Sadly. We then talked about what a people-focused culture pyramid looks like, and summed it up as: focus on the people, and the numbers will come. (I'll share my post on these two culture pyramids here soon, but if you haven't seen what these two pyramids look like, you can learn more here.)

We also talked about
  • my five-step approach to working with clients on their CX transformations; 
  • how to engage, empower, and motivate employees;
  • core values and how important they are;
  • and more!
I'd be honored if you'd listen to this conversation. It's a 30-minute podcast. If you don't have 30-minutes to listen, there's also a transcript of our chat.

I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified. Not of our competition, but of our customers. Our customers have made our business what it is, they are the ones with whom we have a relationship, and they are the ones to whom we owe a great obligation. And we consider them to be loyal to us — right up until the second that someone else offers them a better service. -Jeff Bezos