Case Study: Understanding the end-to-end customer experience to find focus
Delivering the best experiences to users and customers requires contributions from everyone in the organization.
Challenge: Product Management at a large enterprise software company approached my team to help them define what would it take to make one of the flagship products simpler, lower cost, and quicker to get value as part of a strategy to expand market reach.
Solution: I led an effort to understand end-to-end the customer experience (CX) so we could holistically look at opportunities, address pain-points and define the vision for this new offering so we could plan necessary work to support it. This was a multi-faceted research and design project that involved collaboration across all functions across the lifecycle of the product. Some key artifacts created were an end-to-end customer experience journey map as well as a vision prototype for rapid on-boarding and setup of the product.
Duration: ~1 year
Team: 3 designers on and off and 1 UX researcher. We collaborated with over 15 teams that support different pieces of the customer experience, including marketing, sales, product management, engineering, support, technical writers, operations, professional services, customer engagement, finance among others.
My contributions: Lead UX Designer. Consolidated research, conducted audits, interviewed experts, created concepts and artifacts to communicate current state/ideal state/potential futures (journey maps, prototypes, storyboards, share-out reports and presentations). Socialized artifacts to get alignment across the organization and identify key needs that would drive the experience to the next level.
- Provided better organizational understanding of our end-to-end customer experience and ecosystem.
- Generated empathy with users and customers & helped visualize how different touch-points in the experience were affecting sales and customer retention. As a bonus, we uncovered several pain points that impacted more than one product in the portfolio that could benefit from a common solution.
- Helped teams visualize how all the different pieces need to come together into a cohesive, well orchestrated ecosystem that generates value for the customer. Socialized a vision customer experience that influenced product roadmaps.
- Provided insights into the “what would it take?” question”. Helped identify areas of investment (such as infrastructure, out of the box content, and productivity tools) so we could make incremental changes towards creating a lower cost, quick time to value product.
- Served as a means to rally overlapping initiatives with similar goals to reduce repetitive efforts and ultimately reduce costs. For example, by identifying more than 10 publicly facing product websites that could be consolidated into a single customer portal.
- Bring actionable items into focus by surfacing different types of improvements and ranked them based on effort and impact. This allowed for rapid action and planned initiatives for larger efforts.
In enterprise software it can take months or even years to get solutions installed and operational depending on the size and scope of the implementation project. In the current state, it took customers a very long time to go from sales and implementation using the solution and getting value from it.
In addition, there was a lot of internal and external confusion on the product portfolio and key offerings, which stemmed from years of growth through acquisitions, in-house solutions and shifts in strategy. The organization had been consolidating the different businesses, and with the consolidation came overlapping solutions, processes and entities like web portals, training materials, documentation, support portals, metering and logging, etc.
Phase 1: Journey Map Evolution
Before defining how we could reduce time to value and simplify the offering, we first needed to understand the end-to-end customer experience (CX) in place (where are the breaks in the experience and the root cause of these issues so we could determine where our team’s contribution could be more effective and where we could influence other teams).
It made no sense from a cost and time perspective to start from scratch, so we collected existing artifacts from within the organization that documented pieces of the larger ecosystem. We conducted interviews to fill the gaps and document every stage of the process and personas involved.
From our base journey maps, I started including the different systems needed to setup and operate our flagship product, as well as activities that needed to happen on the customer side and on the product side to make it all come together. The map depicts product lifecycle and where the customer lifecycle overlaps, from new product development and launch, to day-to-day usage, customer adoption, how feedback makes it back into the product, and off-boarding/product end of life communications. It also showed the activities by persona, the tools required and the pain points.
We then created an alternative journey map that addressed the pain points, and highlighted areas where changes to the product or process would be needed to get to the goal of shorter time to value. Both journey maps went through various iterations and revisions as we got more alignment with different teams.
Phase 2: Tracking a customer going through the journey
Later we started creating relationships with the professional services team in charge of setting up customer projects to use our products, and they agreed to let us shadow their activities for an on-going implementation project (~2 months). We were able to uncover repeatable processes and activities that should be added as part of the product on-boarding tools to accelerate time to value, as well as opportunities for better documentation and best practices definition.
In parallel we worked with the support team to better understand the types of issues they were handling more often, types of resolutions, and their pain points trying to help customers with the product. We also went back to our research archive and were able to map other customer feedback items directly to the map to provide a sense of the severity of the pain points.
The journey map was later used as a basis to rationalize the tools in place, align processes, and identify stakeholders to help improve customer experience end-to-end, make recommendations for simplification, and identify areas where time to value could be reduced across different categories (apps/tools to do work, support, web portals, admin tools). It became a living document to track pain points and ongoing initiatives to resolve issues with the customer experience.
PM+UX collaboration to define concepts
Having understood the process I was then able to hone into the setup and on-boarding process as one of the biggest pain points for customers, which heavily relies on a costly, time consuming professional services engagement to install and setup the product after purchase.
I enlisted 2 product managers and a marketing analyst to define some scenarios for an improved quick setup experience, entirely done by customer. The key idea was to shift the setup to the hands of end-users, instead of relying on a paid engagement to setup the application, reduce the need for training, and provide a guided experience that was easy to follow and could be completed end-to-end in minutes.
We storyboarded and iterated through different key concepts to flesh out the key details and ideas from the perspective of different users.
I then created a prototype of the end-to-end ideal on-boarding and setup process to help communicate the story better. This was used to collect feedback from users. For example, while most users liked the guided workflows for complex and infrequent tasks, they also needed a way to jump in on different sequences based on available data to setup. This concept helped our development teams and product management teams understand key functionality and workflows that would need to be developed to to support a faster on-boarding experience, as well as all the supporting materials and content that would simplify the process.
Delivering the best experiences to users and customers requires contributions from everyone in the organization, and it cannot fall on a single team to somehow make it work.
The biggest impact the UX team had in this project was helping others see the bigger picture and become more conscious of where and how their day to day efforts can make or break the experience.
That being said, looking at a large ecosystem and pain points in the abstract can be overwhelming. Surfacing “low hanging fruit” type of improvements, as well as areas where biggest customer impact can go a long way in helping teams drive actionable improvements.
It is very easy to get obsessed with fixing problems, but it is equally important to surface what is working and what is done well that could be leveraged in other areas.