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3 steps to creating better customer experiences

Need customers to love you more? Start with these to deliver a better experience for them.

Providing an exceptional experience for customers is a core objective for any business serious about growth, brand expansion and financial performance.
It’s a complicated mission though, with many traps and obstacles to be encountered along the way.

Customer Behaviors & Needs

Customers are demanding – they want companies to know them, understand their needs, not waste their time and provide the product or service on time and as expected. How does a company know what customers want and stay in touch with their needs?

Cross-Channel Alignment

The ways in which customers engage with an organization are evolving and expanding rapidly also – the so-called “omni-channel” experience is here to stay. Customers can walk into a store, call the service center, chat with an agent, send an email, send a text, engage through social channels – and the list goes on. How does a company keep these channels connected and in sync? How is a consistent customer experience delivered across every channel?

Systems & Processes

Systems and the “back office” generally move much slower than the marketing and “customer experience design team” would like them to. How does a company deliver the optimal experience working with the speed and capability constraints of the technology and process environment?

These are just some of the challenges. What are some of the proven methods than can help to overcome these obstacles and shape an exceptional customer experience. Whilst by no means exhaustive, here are some suggestions for analyzing, understanding and designing a world-class customer experience.

Customer Experience Design Framework by Expert Toolkit - the right business analysis tools to solve the right problems

A simple customer experience analysis and design framework

1. Use Gemba & Gather Data

Gemba literally means “the actual place”. Get out from behind your desk and go to where the customer experience is actually being delivered:

  • Direct Observations. Sit in a store and watch how the customers are engaging with staff, processes, and products. Notice issues and pain points that are being experienced. Ask front-line staff questions (use some 5 whys). Listen in on some customer calls. Put together a simple worksheet for tracking your observations before you do the exercise. If you have any hypotheses developed, take those and see if any evidence proves or disproves them.
  • “Day in the Life Of”. This method works great when focusing on a specific role that is involved in serving customers. It can shed light on how to make the role more effective or address issues further up the line.
  • Mystery Shop. Pretend you are a customer. Use the web site, buy a product, use a product, call customer service, chat with an agent, review your bill, make a complaint! How was the experience? Do the same with a few competitors - what are the differences?
  • Voice of the Customer (Voc). What do customers say about the experience? What do they want in the experience? A variety of methods exist for gathering the VoC including focus groups, surveys, interviews and using existing customer data such as complaints, feedback, reviews.
  • Gather & Compile Data. Supplement data captured from observations, DILO, mystery shopping, VoC with data from corporate systems related to customer experience. CRM systems, order management, complaint tracking, etc. Look at the macro-level (trends, volumes, patterns) in addition to the micro-level (specific instances of an issue, triggers that lead to a process breakdown, etc). Do some sampling if you need to – a good start is to grab a batch of customers, orders, complaints (whatever you are most interested in) and do end-to-end analysis on these. Roughly 400 is good sample size to get strong confidence in the results.

2. Map the Customer Journeys

  • Map the Current State. Using all the data that’s been gathered and the insights from the Gemba exercises, map the key journeys as they currently exist. Do this across channels and focus on the most critical and frequent journeys taken by customers. Brown paper process mapping is a terrific way to bring together a variety of stakeholders to build up a clear picture of the customers experience. It also allows the incorporation of different data elements and visuals to bring the journey to life. The data gathered will help draw out the key points and ensure the process mapped is actually what is happening (not what the team thinks is happening).
  • Map a Desired Future State. Using the same insights and method, craft a future state customer journey that aligns with the ambition of the organization. Look for opportunities to eliminate pain, points, waste and align with the aspiration of the customer – as told through the VoC.
  • Synthesize the Pain Points. From the current state process maps and the gaps identified in designing a new future state experience, document the key pain points.

3. Develop Solutions and an Action Plan

Once you have mapped the current state and designed an ideal future state and used this to highlight the gaps it’s time to move into solution mode and planning.
  • Prioritize Pain Points. Take the documented pain points and prioritize them based on “severity” and “frequency”.
  • Brainstorm Solutions. Ideate solutions and prioritize them based on their ability to address pain points, and their cost / complexity and time to implement. Look for solutions that address more than one pain point.
  • Scope & Plan. Scope out each solution including development of a charter and create an integrated improvement plan with clear milestones, activities, deliverables, success factors and performance measures. Be sure to follow good principles such as holding people accountable, testing solutions, monitoring results and scale solutions once they are proven to work.

Let us know if you have any questions or feedback. Many of the business improvement tools mentioned on this blog are available on as will the upcoming Management Consultant Toolkit which will be available in April.

Go make a greater impact!

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