Excerpt #2: Customer Experience - Chap 21 from CRM @ The Speed of Light, 4th ed.

Summary:I have to be straight with you. I'm entering the head down, grind it, drive to the goal line when it comes to CRM at the Speed of Light's 4th edition.

I have to be straight with you. I'm entering the head down, grind it, drive to the goal line when it comes to CRM at the Speed of Light's 4th edition.  Which means that in other areas that I'm writing, I'm treading water. So there is a dual purpose to these excerpts. One is I'm treading water. The other is to give you a peek at what's coming. Its going to be around 750 pages all in all - a definitive work, according to me at least, on CRM 2.0/Social CRM covering everything - some in depth, some touching on it.  In a way, it has a companion relationship to the 3rd edition which is far more technology focused than this edition, though there is a healthy dose of technology in the 4th edition. But if you want details on, say, how analytics works, get the 3rd edition. If you're more interested in the business value and contemporary usage of analytics for customer insight, get this one.

In any case, I've got a new excerpt for you from another chapter.  Once again, its unedited and unexpurgated a.k.a. raw. Let me know what you think and what changes I might make. I'm stubborn. So convince me, please. All used input in the editing will be attributed.

The excerpt:

Why Customer Experience Mapping?

How many of your employees directly interact with your customers?  How many of your senior management ever interact with customers by anything but accident? How many of your customers have demands that you think are probably outside what the company can do or ever has done? How many of you use the incredible amount of intelligence that customers provide even in normal conversations? How many of you presume you know your customer? By the way, "presume" is a precisely chosen word.

The answers. Many. Almost none. Several, but what can you do? Not too many. All of us, especially marketing people.

Here's how little you really know your customers.   EMarketer reported on a 2008 study done by QCI International:

  1. 41% of the companies surveyed do not record customer contact channel preferences.
  2. In more than 90% of companies, the staffs who are responsible for talking to customers could not articulate why customers should buy from them.
  3. Only 13% of senior management has regular contact with customers.

Truthfully, we don't know our customers all that well, despite their often easy willingness to be known. Put on your customer hat for a minute.  How many companies are you willing to say, "Damn. They seem to know just want I want!"  A few...maybe.  But what about this next statement, "They not only know what I want, but how I want it?"

Back in Chapter 4, I spoke a lot of American Girl.  I mentioned the varying options that they had that each cost something.  How each young girl dresses their doll, which services they choose (haircut, hot dog) and which associated media they see or buy, affects the revenue of Mattel.  It's rarely a matter of price except as a consideration in a granular look at the customer experience.

The reason for all this variation is that each of us is self-interested. Note, I didn't say selfish. Self-interested.  Mother Theresa was self-interested. Doing Good with a capital G was a way of satisfying her internal emotional "benchmarks." Self-interest. Not selfish.  That individual interest can be a benefit to a company that understands what it is that drives that customer but a major headache when it doesn't.  The biggest "FAIL" is when someone at the company presumes that they know what the customer's self-interest is - and they don't.  Believe me, they don't.

There is a simple answer to that presumption failure though which I mentioned way back in Chapter 4. It's worth repeating. ASK THE CUSTOMER WHAT IT IS THEY THINK AND WANT!

Mapping will be your first set of brushstrokes for your freshly painted customer portrait.

The Preparation

Customer mapping isn't merely a questionnaire that you get to ask a customer - via Survey Monkey or your internal email system.  However preparation for customer mapping can be done using the traditional instruments for customer queries.

But it doesn't start with that.

Before there is a single question even discussed there are several strategic CRM elements that have to be in place.

Consistent Perception of CRM Mission and Vision

I established the importance of the mission and vision statements last chapter.  NOTHING proceeds without a clear mission and vision statement that provides the customer-facing cues that the company needs to define how it will approach its interactions with the customers and what the future holds for that.  This is a prerequisite for any sort of customer experience mapping that you are preparing to do.

The full evolution and development of a strategy isn't.

The reason that it isn't is pretty straightforward.  If successful, the mapping will help you define the strategy - helping you execute on your mission. As time goes on and you redo the mapping - yes, redo - this isn't a one-time-whew-we're done- wipe across the forehead - it will provide you with the insight to tweak the elements of the strategy going forward. That means that your vision can be realized.

However, before you get to that, you have to make sure that the perception of the mission and vision are consistent across the company also.

What do I mean by that?

Let me get literary.

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Titinius returns home to find Cassius of the lean and hungry look, dead.  He says, "Alas, thou has misconstrued every thing." That is a state that you have to make sure that you avoid.

The only way to avoid that is to make sure that the mission and vision that are the fundamental statements for the CRM 2.0 strategy are not only clearly defined but clearly understood across the entire value chain.   By having that mission and vision clear, the direction that the strategy has to be pointed will be obvious to all concerned - and that doesn't need the entire strategy done.

The entire value chain, includes the accounting department, your logistics organization, the warehouse managers, the human resources department and all others in the back of the company. The reason this encompasses the entire value chain is that with the increased customer demands and the heightened emotional sensitivity due to extreme economic fluctuations, among others, how every part of the company performs will have an impact on the customer experience.

For example, several years ago, a client of mine called up with an odd dilemma.  Their accounting department, a few years before the call, had developed a technique that they used in accounting entries that saved their rather large department around $40,000 per year.   However, they had added ecommerce to their portfolio of sales pipes. As a result, this accounting technique created an online "glitch" which made the customer purchasing whatever they did online enter some of the same data twice.  Never mind how it got there - it's not germane to this.

They wanted to know what to do.

My recommendation, since it wasn't technically fixable was to jettison the technique - despite its improved efficiency, because it was degrading the customer experience - and thus irritating customers, who expected their online shopping to be seamless and easy.

They did just that. Which is great, but the true moral of this story is to note how even the back office can affect a customer experience that is expected to be something it turns out not to be - in other words, there is a failure to meet expectations.

So what can you do to prevent that - and, hopefully, even exceed expectations?

The Traditional Approaches

There is nothing wrong with traditional approaches - though they work less and less.  When I say "traditional" approaches that includes focus groups, standard surveys, customer interviews that have directed questions and attempts at customer segmentation. Each of them has a strength or two, but there is an underlying flaw that they tend to have - the results tend to reflect the prejudices of the company - rather than the raw honesty of the individual customer. Even with analytics-driven customer segmentation for example, your result is the assessment of people who are similar to you but not of "you" as an individual. While "someone like him" might be your customer's most trusted source, companies should remember that it isn't a good demographic in the eyes of that same individual customer.    They may trust someone like them but they want you to know them personally.

To do that, you need to start by mapping the customer experience.

Now We Map

Mapping the customer experience is a granular process - and one that encompasses all channels that a customer uses to interact with you or vice versa.  If you are a retail store, it encompasses every interaction starting with the moment that the customer walks through the door and notices something to the moment that they leave the store and go home; to the time they call up customer service or the sales rep that has to do follow-up on the purchase.  It encompasses their web experience and how they interacted with you on the web - ranging from how comfortable the site was when they were navigating to the effect that the 11 seconds of latency that you uncovered in your customer interview affected that customer behavior or marred their experience - or not.

But as important as the specific interaction is the expectation of the result of that interaction the customer brings to the table - and what kind of importance the customer assigns to it.

I'm going to start by breaking out the fundamental elements.

Interactions

An interaction, for the purposes of the customer experience, is any time that a customer communicates with the company - regardless of the communications channel - and regardless of the whether it is a cyber-communication or a physical conversation.

Examples of good and bad interactions are in Table 21-2.

Communications Medium

Good Interaction

Bad Interaction

Retail Store

Clean, well lit, friendly service from a store representative, and well-stocked

All the other good but a surly store representative

Web-based

Easy to navigate, no latency when ordering

Ten second or more wait for order to complete when submit is clicked

Telephone Based

Immediate access to the right human being

Multiple IVR menus

Email

Rapid customer service turnaround in answering a support question

More than 24 hours wait time for answering a support question

Customer Service

Solving a problem - and adding a bonus as a "we're sorry."

Lack of knowledge or unsupportive CSR

Fax

Completion of a transaction

Unsolicited offer from a company you know

Table 21-2: Examples of good and bad interactions via different channels

These are simply examples. What I'm sure is that as you read them, you were able to attach a real life experience either specifically or that more generic, slightly ethereal feeling that you know what I mean, but you can't pinpoint it specifically.

But "good" or "bad" can be attached to interactions only if there was an expectation of how that interaction was going to turn out. If it met or exceeded the expectation - voilà - good. If it fell below the expectation - oi vey - bad.

Expectations

Then what is a customer "expectation?" One definition (Olson and Dover, 1979) says, "Customer expectations are pretrial beliefs about a product that serve as standards or reference points against which product performance is judged."  I don't know about you, but that's good enough for me.

There are at least six significant factors that customers incorporate when it comes to determining their expectations. What kind of result do I expect:

  1. Given my past history with this company - especially my last interaction
  2. Given what I've heard about this company - especially from my peers
  3. Given what I expect of the industry this company is in (e.g. airlines)
  4. Given what that kind of interaction, in my experience, typically results in.
  5. Given ordinary standards of human behavior when it comes to interactions
  6. Given anything that might have happened to me the day (or so) that I'm interacting with you that could affect how I'm thinking about things (random and uncontrollable)

Each of them, and, usually, all of them, has an effect on what the customer thinks the outcome is going to be.

Weight

But not all expected outcomes and their actual results are the same.  What makes understanding the customer's thinking even more difficult is that each expectation and how well or poorly it is met has a different importance in the eye of the particular customer.

But you already know that, don't you?

For example, I have to assume that most of you reading this have used review sites like Yelp to find a restaurant that you might want to eat at or Epinions to see about a camera or Amazon for the book reviews.   When you go to the review, you use the ratings - say, 1 to 5 stars to filter how you want to read the reviews.  Maybe you want to only read the bad reviews, not the good ones, so you can see how bad the negatives are on something that you really want to buy.  Or maybe you read all of them.  What I think most of you don't do is to aggregate the stars and make your decisions based on the number of stars that a product has.  Instead, you actually read the reviews.  What you then do is to say, as you read them, "oh, that reviewer says the delivery was a bad issue, but that doesn't matter to me, but they loved the look of the product, which matters to me a lot" OR "that reviewer says that they think the duck at the restaurant is too dry but that the tilapia is to die for." If you like duck, you tend to not go, if you like fish you tend to go - because you are weighing what is important to you - and not.  But note something, "if" is a key word here.  Fish or duck?  That will determine something based on a review that might be 4/5 stars.

Want to check how you weigh further? Go back to the beginning of the chapter and read the descriptions from the review sites.  What's important to you in each of the reviews? Was it what was important to one of the reviewers and not the other - or a compilation of both - or neither met your standard for importance?

You get the picture now?

This is a major facet of what can be uncovered when you do customer experience mapping.

Topics: CXO, Enterprise Software

About

In addition to being the author of the best-selling CRM at the Speed of Light: Social CRM Strategies, Tools, and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers Paul Greenberg is President of The 56 Group, LLC, a customer strategy consulting firm, focused on cutting edge CRM strategic services and a founding partner of the CRM training company, BP... Full Bio

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