Targeting better customer experience? Apply some marksmanship principles
Customer Experience is the key battleground for modern business, with proponents (including us!) singing the praises of improved CX everywhere wherever you look online. Yet stories of bad, sometimes terrible, customer experience are still turning up online and in conversation with depressing regularity.
Looking through recent CX articles there is a disquieting disconnect between customers complaints about businesses that are failing to deliver the fundamentals of good service and experts advising complex solutions to CX challenges. For example establishing high volume data capabilities and machine learning to understand ‘real-time’ what all your customers are doing.
CX can be made easier, but while good tools, especially software, may help, consistently delivering good experiences isn’t achieved by simply procuring the right technologies, it has to be built into how the organisation operates.
It should be obvious that knowing more isn’t going to solve the CX problem if the business isn’t set up to deliver good CX. At best you might have a better understanding of why your customers are unhappy, at worst you’ve spent an awful lot of money to be told things that your customer service team could have told you for free.
The British Army makes soldiers accurate by focussing on firer, not the weapon. They teach soldiers how to consistently hit targets through the marksmanship principles, four simple rules that focus on getting the set up right, once done correctly the accuracy comes automatically.
A business that has everything aligned to support the end delivery will naturally deliver a good experience through normal operation. That should always be the goal, delivering postive experiences as standard, day in and day out, without special programs. Once the fundamentals are right great results can be acheived with only small adjustments.
Here’s our take on the four principles applied to customer experience:
1. The business should be structured such that it supports the customer need
Businesses can be inward looking, especially with departments that are not exposed directly to the customer, in turn leading to business objectives being established that are unrelated to the primary purpose of the organisation, delivering for customers. Every part of the business should support the customer need, establishing and understanding the customer journey helps identify opportunities to improve alignment.
2. The business should deliver a positive experience without undue effort
No special measures should be required to deliver a positive experience to customers. The customer journey should be designed, or refined, such that in normal operation the customer has a positive experience with your business. Communication should be clear and consistent, appropriate expectations established and the standard operating model of the business designed to meet those expectations.
3. Business goals and the customer need must be aligned
The goals of your organisation should build on and align with the customer needs that you are servicing. If the business is trying to steer customers, rather than following their lead, or get them to adopt something which is receiving significant customer resistance then that alignment is off. That isn’t to say that you business has to be responsive, there is plenty of innovation and market opportunity to be had from deeply understanding customers and delivering beyond their expectation.
4. The sale should lead to follow through as part of the standard journey
The sale is not the end of the experience and is just a part of the process, it is the least important element to the customer, what happens in their journey before, in regards to expectation setting and after the sale, with regard their experience is significantly more important to them. The sale is just part of a process and should form part of a smooth transition through a much longer customer journey.
Achieving this may not be easy, especially in a large business but it isn’t possible at all if you don’t know what you are aiming at. The first step has to be gaining a proper understanding of your customers and their journey. With a ‘good’ customer journey established as your target you can check the alignment of your business with that purpose.
The fundamentals of customer experience are defined by the way your business operates as a whole, if your standard operation model is aiming at a good customer experience, that is what you will deliver. If it’s not, then no bought in solution, no matter how grand, will deliver better experiences to your customers.
Jay is Strategy Director at design agency Make it Clear, we use customer experience (CX) to help companies improve their interactions with their audiences. Improving engagement and adoption of products, services and change processes.