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“The Power Thinkers insight community has revolutionized our relationship with our customers,” said Mike Thiede, customer experience consultant at Alliant Energy, during a breakout session at the recent Customer Intelligence Summit. Thiede was joined by Heidi Martin, strategy and insights consultant at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, as they shared steps on how to create the ultimate end-to-end customer journey.

Both the U.S. natural gas and electric utility and art organization are winners of 2016 Visionary Awards for good reason. Alliant Energy, for example, decreased regulatory complaints by 50 percent over the last two years and increased its Net Promoter Score by 88 percent by adopting a customer-centric approach for their business decisions. You can create an award-winning customer experience by following these three recommendations from Thiede and Martin:

  1. Find your customer’s engagement triggers

Martin advises customer experience pros to lose preconceptions about the customer journey. Instead of assuming how customers want to engage with your brand, go straight to the source and inquire about their preferences.

Many brands identify trigger moments, when consumers are more likely to reach out, require help, or have a defining brand experience. To improve the customer journey, Thiede asked Power Thinkers, an insight community with a membership composed of 1,830 residential customers, to point to three key ‘moments of truth’ where they are most likely to interact with Alliant Energy. Moving or starting a service, receiving or paying bills and experiencing an outage during an emergency or service disruption came out on top. Establishing these engagement triggers lead to a better understanding of key moments in the customer journey.

  1. Establish customer personas

In order to truly welcome the customer into the process, brands must get to know who their customers are—and find similarities and differences among them. “For us, there are as many customer journeys as there are visitors to the gallery,” said Martin in her breakout session. The Art Gallery of New South Wales aims to engage a larger and more diverse local, national and international audience by 2021. This requires Martin to understand different audience segments and personas, and tailor experiences based on that insight.

Summit 2016 audienceAlliant Energy’s consumers, on the other hand, expect varying levels of service based on their personal needs and preferences. For this reason, the company identified six customer personas that capture the wide range of customers. For example, the persona ‘Brent’ represents the young professional demographic who expect Alliant Energy to engage through a mobile app. He wants speedy interactions, no matter when they happen, and he wants to be able to pay bills in one click. By creating customer personas and mapping them to engagement triggers in the customer journey, Thiede can help identify how customers like Brent would want to hear of an outage.

  1. Find the real people behind customer personas

According to Martin, the final step in creating the ultimate end-to-end customer journey is to bring it to life. Martin selected a target group of Gallery Insiders insight community members to visit the gallery and test how easy or challenging it is to physically navigate the space. Throughout the visit, she asked customers to answer questions about the customer journey. As a result, she identified areas for improvement and missed opportunities, and established the customer journey through a customer lens.

Thiede taps into Power Thinkers to find real people who match each persona, and begins to connect concepts to real customers. This allows the company to understand how its customers view the brand and its products and services. Thiede can ask them which products they prefer and why they chose Alliant Energy over competitors. He uses this information to create a storyboard for each persona, making them more relatable to customer service associates and other front line staff who directly interact with customers every day.

Both Alliant Energy and the Art Gallery of New South Wales have truly welcomed the customer into the heart of their organizations. That said, customer centricity is a moving target. “Never consider a job done,” warned Martin, “continuously test and learn.”

How to Use an Insight Community to Improve Customer Experience

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