Definition for Customer Experience

Customer Experience is so obvious and yet so complex subject that has multitude of perceptions and views to consider. I try to put it very objectively. What do you think about this definition about:
“Customers approach their experience subjectively and holistically and they form their view of customer experience based on one or multiple engagements with the company’s services, products and interfaces. The company could build great customer experience with multiple engagements and crush the customer’s view with one. The customer has very different approach and expectations for the company along their purchase and customer relationship process and their expectations change along the way. The key to their view on experience is customer’s subjective expectations that the company intentionally or by chance set with advertising, promises, engagements across touch points and via other customer’s shared experiences. This is why same service level deliver’s very different customer experience and Net Promoter Score results from one company to another.”

You can create brand without engagements and the brand is the key to the expectations. The customer experience though is based on personal engagements with the company, it’s products and services.

I recently wrote the article “Beyond HBR’s truth about customer experience” and “Irina” asked what kind of definition I would use for Customer Experience. I wrote that definition before checking other’s opinions. I now listed them below. I often struggle with definitions, because generalizing them to the max reduce other’s capacity to fully understand how many meanings there are behind very few words and suppressed sentence. It’s often true, that we use the same words, but connect very different contexts and views to them. Effectively we could discuss about the same subject and think about completely different issues. This is such a fundamental question, that I’d love to come up with a definition everyone could share from CEO to customer service, marketing, CTO, CFO and well ..The Customer. What is your view on this subject? Have you come across events, in which people have had completely different perception about the issues and events influencing Customer Experience?

Here are some definitions from other thought leaders and players:

Beyond Philosophy: A customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the senses stimulated and the emotions evoked and intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact. – See more here

Wikipedia: Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction; the distinction is usually clear in context. – See more here

Adam Richardson, Frog Design: It is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer. – See Mr. Richardson’s article about the subject in HBR blog network here

SAS: Customer experience is defined as your customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with your brand resulting from all their interactions with your brand during the customer life cycle. – Article available here

Forrester Research: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” In Mr. Harley Manning’s blog post is available here

In Forrester’s article, there was also great picture about how expectations and meeting them influence customer’s subjective experience about the company.

The truth about Customer Experience has a lot to do with our emotional systems. This Infograph by Forbes makes a great point:

I just found a company “Touchpoint Dashboard” Do you have any experiences about using this tool?

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Beyond HBR’s “truth about customer experience”

Harward Business Review just published a great article about Customer Experience and Journey. See here. The main point of the article is, that managing single touchpoint engagements doesn’t provide sufficient customer experience.

HBR - Truth about customer experience

My advice is: Don’t design just touchpoints – Design chain of events, proactive and reactive. Development and measurement is often done engagement by engagement. The service design approach also highlight such emphasis. I’ve done Customer Journey mapping and methodology development since 2004 and agree with the article, only it’s lacking tools and methods how you should approach the challenge. I can help with that.

I’ve written an article series about customer journey management and you can choose and pick, which areas you are interested in or read them as a series of articles:

  1. Customer Journey FLOW
  2. How to map and study Customer Journey
  3. Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform
  4. Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation
  5. Customer Journey stag 3: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence

In order to really do Service and CX design for the entire customer relationship, you need to understand that there are very different journeys to begin with.

  • Purchase journey (From awareness to consideration and transaction, Acquisition)
  • Service journeys post purchasing (Using the product or service, value-in-use)
  •  Planned (e.g. Address change, regular maintenance etc.)
  •  Unpredictable (e.g. Product failure, reclamation, insurance coverage, etc.)
  • Delivering a service as a customer journey (taking a cruise or flight, restaurant, using media, etc.)
  • Retail customer journeys (e.g. IKEA store experience)

Once you have both Insight and Topsight level understanding about customer journey in full, you need to take a look inside the company. What organisation bodies are involved with customers, what kind of technical environment direct their operation and what kind of data steers their actions. The reality is, that management reporting practices represent management understanding and decisions. The systems and technical infra on the other hand define how the corporate body acts. In case you need to change the way how the corporate body in total behave, you need to define required technical changes, change management and manage change. In my experience, creating Service Blueprints has been quite effective tool for both challenge recognition at current status mapping and Customer Experience planning.

The potential is absolutely amazing. The customer’s expectations are constantly growing harder to fulfill and companies that are agile enough to cure “Corporate Autism” and take the steps required to move from “inconsideration marketing” and mass mailings to service automation, Customer Experience and Journey design at total relationship level, can win marketshare and increase profits considerably. The business-as-usual approach is no longer sufficient, you need to free the full potential an organisation can offer and tear down silos in order to take advantage of synergies available.

In the big picture, your company must act professionally and fulfill minimum requirement perfectly. Failing these requirements cause criticism and decrease your NPS results. Acting human, being considerate, thoughtful and proactive on the other hand increase the number of people willing to recommend you and increase you NPS score. Succeeding in both cumulate earned trust, which is the foundation for long-lasting and profitable customer relationships and strong brand.

creating customer loyalty and trust_improving NPS

In case you do well, the process will enable you to design lean processes and define the best possible value your business processes can possibly deliver. In my opinion this is the Future for CMO’s position inside the company. It’s not the job for CMO’s to define business process management, but it’s the CMO’s responsibility to make certain that everything the company does, delivers maximum customer value and experience across all customer interfaces

Customer interface reach & effectiveness

In case you can capture customer contacts, you can start servicing and inspiring customers individually and simultaneously your capacity to influence increases. The bigger share of the customers buying in a certain category you have in your database, the more effective means you have to influence their behavior and market dynamics. The ultimate goal is to synchronize customer portfolio with product and service portfolio across all touchpoints and marketing interfaces.

customer portfolio_customer touchpoint & marketing portfolio_product and service portfolio

In my experience the only way to do successful customer journey and experience design and create sustainable management model for it is to do the work upside-down. You start from the actual interfaces, motives, contexts and people. From there you continue inside the company culture, practices and technology and design the strategy level after you understand everything else. Like this:

Bottom-up strategy and data analysis

The Holy Grail of customer value is Symbiosis. Check Symbiosis Strategy – creating the ultimate value  -article here.

This is a video by on Sep 12, 2013, It’s All About the Customer Journey

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer, Toinen PHD

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join The Future CMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

From Marketing Automation to Service Automation

I’ve come to the conclusion that the name “marketing automation” for new breed technologies is simply too narrow. In the projects I have been working, it has been evident that the core challenges companies have lie in their business processes. As a customer, you expect to know what is going on and understand what the company you are paying for is doing for you. Not knowing equals emotions of neglect, inconsideration and generally drive criticism towards the company. As an outcome the Net Promoter Score doesn’t look too good, even if the company would be very good in something. However, gaining great increase in NPS only require erasing the issues leading to critic path of customer experience.

I would suggest to consider marketing automation as a methodology for service automation and start service designing the entire customer relationship. Such an approach put the customer in to a spotlight and helps you analyse the internal processes and multi-channel encounters in a new way. When you do analyze the engagements, customers’ motivation and contexts driving customers you can mirror it with customer touch poits with sales, customer service, billing, purchase confirmation communications, online service etc. While studying these touch points and their impact, also consider what is the technical platform for that specific touch point. Having this mapped enable you to look at the entire IT infrastructure and recognize gaps between them. In case you don’t have the necessary data available for answering customers’ questions you will make your company look autistic.

Fixing the gaps in IT infrastructure enable you to fix the reasons why people have doubt and negative experiences along their customer relationship. This is when you can start automating the customer communications. In many cases you have the means to cure the reasons for eg. negative customer service contacts by keeping the customer updated, feeling secure and well served. Considering the full customer journey and relationship help you increase lean process efficiency and simultaneously increase NPS. In current economic environment you can squeeze a lot more efficiency and synergies delivering higher customer value with current or even lower resources (Check out HBR article about managing complexity).

The same tool allowing you to do segmented emailing and event based marketing can be used for process automation and customer care. This is why I think the marketing automation technology should also be leveraged as service automation solution.

The companies often have an existing CRM already in place, like Salesforce, MS Dynamics or such. These mainstream CRM’s are relatively easy to integrate with Marketo, Eloqua, Neolane, ISAS or Hubspot (the price variation between these technologies is huge – you really need to know what want to do when comparing options). BM’s Unica is a fullblown solution for CRM & Automation and a lot of these challenges can be solved with Salesforce and MS Dynamics too. In many cases the company infra already has  much more to offer than is being used. In a best case scenario you already have what it takes. You just need to make choices that work best in your existing systems and requirements. The only thing I’m saying is, it is well worth the effort.  In case you only really need triggered messaging, eg. Silverpop is an option.

Many of these technologies are associated with B2B markets and it’s true that they have been developed for B2B and high invenstment B2C categories. This is because the value of single customer is so high that you should really take great care of them and it’s worth the investment. However, in B2C business the sheer number of customers and transactions is so huge that the automation makes sense and the technology price goes down/customer too. The most applied position for these technologies has to do with lead management process. I think, such approach is only a tip of an iceberg.

Let’s look at this challenge from the CMO’s perspective. Majority of critics in NPS measurements are actually an outcome of poor operational experiences. However, these experiences have a major impact on brand perception. I would consider this to be an opportunity for CMO’s to enforce brand identity at experience level and really help driving the brand promise and it’s practical delivery in to all touchpoints accross the company. Marketing is a great influencer in corporate culture and I think these new opportunities only enhance the capability of CMO to make the company better.

creating customer loyalty and trust_improving NPSI’d really love to hear your experiences and opinions about marketing automation and service automation. Please, let’s learn together.

For more, check out online (others have training, but I haven’t found great tutorials online)

Eloqua University cource list

Hubspot Academy

Here’s also Marketo’s “Marketing RFP” that I find quite instructional although it has been done by a vendor who optimize the RFP for their technology 🙂 Marketing automation-RFP

Yes, Business Process Design is business owner’s responsibility, but CMO’s need to understand how to leverage BPM in customer engagements and their outcomes measured with Net Promoter Score. Here’s a brief video on Business Process Management

Here’s Gartner’s very informative evaluation of multichannel marketing  solutions: “CRM Vendor Landscape: Multichannel Customer Analytics Is a Critical CRM Capability” http://www.gartner.com/technology/reprints.do?id=1-1FDDJZT&ct=130502&st=sg#!

Most companies approach CRM and marketing automation inside out, I prefer looking outside in. It’s the difference in perception, not in technology that matters. Here’s how Salesforce.com presents their approach as an infograph. It’s a valid approach, I’m just saying that there is more to discover than this:

Salesforce.com infograph

Toni Keskinen

Marketing Architect, Toinen PHD

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen/

Managing Social reputation – Brand is a verb

BRAND IS A VERB AND SOCIAL BY NATURE

Brands cannot be “created” one way – it’s the people’s perception of a company or product. Brand is no longer a noun; it has turned in to a verb. You could actually think brand as an agreement between a customer, customer’s peers (society) and company. Customers can agree or disagree with the agreement. As an outcome reputation and brand perception emerge, which could be good or bad. However, a brand cannot exist without the other parties. Brand is social by nature. However, a brand has never been as social as it has now become because of social media and online influence channels that customers are now very effectively and actively using. Customers have real power now that is global, not just local peers. No doubt that customer behavior has changed. It has completely changed in many areas and will continue doing so. Digital influence is the most important disruptive force along the customer journey.

Customers are actively using their power and they are getting more and more effective tools at their disposal to leverage this power to the most. For example WOT, Web Of Trust, crowd sourced rating of websites and brands has currently apr. 90 million people rating brands and websites. Any people who have WOT application in their browser has reputation score visually presented after every single link available online. WOT is a wonderful example of customers’ currencies becoming more and more influential. WOT is an ultimate rating tool. If some company acts unethically, spam, or in any way prove not to be trustworthy, apr. 90 million people in WOT start giving red to the brand. As an outcome, company’s online reputation score will become lower and eventually red. Red means, that if you try to enter the company’s website, you get a full-page size warning stating that other people have rated this site to be dangerous and not trust worthy. Would you do business with such a company?

WOT_trustworthy web page

Not only does WOT influence it’s users, but also everyone else online. WOT is also delivering reputation data to Google, which can then use it for any given purpose like Google AdWords or (safe) search. It’s not difficult to imagine, that Google might prefer to take people to brands and services that are trustworthy. Also, WOT made a deal with Facebook, which is using reputation data to make Facebook safer for it’s users. This picture will appear, if you are trying to enter un-trustworthy website from Facebook: Facebook It is quite remarkable how much people currently have ways and tools to influence brands business. WOT is just one of many tools available.

COMPANY’S REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

The mechanism of social reputation management has a strong emphasis on own touch points and encounters with customers. In case customer is dissatisfied, in every 1/10 cases the customer contacts call center and seek justice, making things right. The large majority apr. 9/10 doesn’t call, they are just silently dissatisfied. The more likely channel for making their point is customer satisfaction questionnaire, except companies only research small sample in order to get feedback suitable for their purposes – not all customers. However, the customer contacting actively is the fever meter and represent major urgency. The customer satisfaction questionnaire and especially customer’s open text answers represent confirmation to that urgency. These people are the most active social players because they have a personal story to tell and strong emotional commitment to the matter. In case they feel neglected they will become your brand destroyers and the 9/10 will join the choir. Here’s how the interfaces work:

Customer interfaces, touch points

What ever emerge from your own customer interface sources will spread all over social networks in case these matters are not taken seriously.

I’d love to hear about your social media analysis experiences. Which tools are you using? What kind of insights and phenomena have you observed?

I find Etuma to be an excellent tool for such analysis. Whitevector, Meltwater and other tools only help you analyze the outcome, what is already being discussed in public forums. Etuma enable you to analyze internal interfaces separately: call center logs, customer satisfaction questionnaires, customer forums & your own Facebook community. Looking at the fever meter results in own touch points and comparing that to the impact on discussions in public social mediums allow you to monitor the impact and velocity of change in the brand perception.

Toni Keskinen

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen/

Twitter: @toni_keskinen

Blog: http://futurecmo.org