We all want to improve our customer experience. We’ve created customer journey maps and tried to focus on improving the whole experience and the Forrester CX Index is telling us that across the board in all industries, the customer experience is not improving. What are we missing?
At the Forrester CX SF 2019 conference in San Francisco, the focus was on that very topic and how the customers' context and perceptions are what shape their experience, and organizations tend to focus on the wrong parts of the journey when they should be listening more to what customers need and want.
I was fortunate enough to attend the conference, and I walked away with five key nuggets to share.
1. What Is Your “Peak Experience”?
Every industry has its “peak” or moment in the customer journey that can make or break the entire experience for a customer. For online retail, it’s speed. For airports, it’s the restrooms. It’s not often what we might think it is. Most companies tend to think the peak is during the Discover, Explore, or Buy phases of the journey but customers care much more about Use, Ask, and Engage. Forrester CEO George Colony challenged the audience to define what their peak is for the average customer. Do you know what yours is?
2. Focus Efforts on Improving That Peak Moment
Once we know what that peak is for our business, what next? In order to focus efforts and truly make a difference, we must move resources away from trying to maintain the entire journey and instead shift as much as we can to the peak moment and work on it. And it’s never completed—it should always have a bit more focus and resources than other moments year after year in order to truly move the needle. The rewards are threefold: customer experience efforts will be restored, customers will respond positively to the improved peak moment leading to higher loyalty, which ultimately results in more revenue.
Naturally our minds then go beyond the average customer peak... won’t every customer have their own peak moment in the journey? George Colony suggests that within five years, we must plan for each individual customer’s peak.
3. Set Up a Dedicated Team
If the message in our organization is “innovation is everyone’s job”—then it’s nobody’s job. In order to de-risk going to market with innovation, we need to set up a dedicated, multidisciplinary team connected to the company strategy that focuses on innovative ideas. The key to success is having a process that is well-defined, sanctioned, and funded, and has executive sponsor support.
4. Leverage Customer Insights
Uncovering customers' unmet needs through insights can help guide new product and service innovation. We have experienced this first hand with our customer insight community, Sparq Next. While asking for advice from our customers on things like our product development, marketing messaging, and service offerings, we have discovered opportunities for improvement that we might not have realized before.
For example, our Customer Education services that provide training on our software and theory around community management. When we asked customers for their advice on what’s working and what isn’t, we realized synergies between two departments delivering similar content that we could break down and repurpose to meet customer needs more effectively. A great example of intersecting our business, technology, and customer experience to create a solution that is more customer centric.
5. Measure Learning—Not Launch
I loved this one most of all! As CX professionals, we are focused on getting it right the first time so we don’t waste resources or further impact the customer journey in a negative way... but learning amongst our cross-functional teams should be the goal to cultivate a growth mindset and enable our teams to be constantly learning and engaged. Also, important to make sure we are socializing our projects, customer insights, and progress through regular stakeholder updates to ensure engagement and stronger partnerships within the organization.
The main message was that improving the customer experience is hard work and it’s often not in the areas that we might think. We must listen to our customers' feedback, encourage innovation in a team that feels supported and connected to the company strategy, and focus our energy on that peak moment that can really drive results and improve the customer experience.