“How do we get started with improving customer experience?” It’s a daunting question, and one many can relate to.

In fact, it’s the most common question executives ask us. And it’s easy to see why. If the answer was easy, companies would have done it long ago…
For the last few decades, there has been a chorus of analysts, publications, consultants, even boards, telling leaders that they should create trusted relationships with their customers. Since the concept of ‘Customer
Relationship Management’ first hit the scene in the late 90s a tremendous amount of money has been thrown at it, often resulting in endless failed investments.

Today, 89% of companies compete primarily on excellent customer experience (CX) – up significantly from only 36% in 2010. But while 80% of companies believe they deliver “superior experiences”, only 8% of their customers agree. Clearly, companies still have a long way to go in understanding what their customers want from them.

Most know they need to be easy to do business with – when, where, and how their customers want. So, many companies form new task forces, often re-launched for the third or fourth time, to solve the challenge of meeting these heightened customer expectations. Only 29% of CX leaders agree that these projects achieve the intended results. But why has there been such a consistent track record of organizations falling short, and how do you solve this customer conundrum?

In our experience, there are four critical moments of truth that make or break an effective CX program. In this paper we’ll explore them, explaining how to choose your first journey(s) and accelerate the time it takes to learn if they’re hitting the mark. We’ll then explore how to quickly get these new journeys to market, while setting yourself up for continuous improvement by using data effectively.

Step 1: Choosing your first journey(s)

Let’s start with a cautionary tale. It’s one we see repeated time and again by companies around the world. It goes something like this…

After having completed an exhaustive analysis of their customer experience challenges, a group of executives spend the next several months deciding what is the biggest priority. This protracted discussion means very little gets accomplished beyond fighting ‘business as usual’ fires. They know what needs to be fixed, but no action has been taken toward fixing it.

There are two key principals that you can employ to reduce, if not eliminate, such paralysis:

  1. Agree to prioritize progress over perfection
  2. Align to a decision-making framework

In any effort there are stated or implied guiding principles. For customer experience programs, they typically revolve around customer-centric design, solving for enterprise goals vs. individual functions, and being a data driven enterprise.

There is one critical principal that will make the difference above all others. Rather than spending consecutive task force meetings debating which CX challenge is the biggest priority, get going! Simply select a reasonable first choice and run with it.

This is where a decision framework can be incredibly helpful. By getting the team to agree to the criteria that potential journey’s will be scored against you eliminate much of the second guessing that can occur once a decision has been made. It’s very rare to find a company with a shortage of journeys to consider, and once they orient around this simple tool it is amazing to see how things get moving.

With your first journey selected you have now started a virtuous cycle. Each one selected will inform the next, as learnings are applied to improve future sprints. The real learning and eventual impact comes from the doing, not the planning. When your team knows that they are prioritizing progress over perfection, you are well on your way to results.

Step 2: Accelerate time to learning with design thinking & rapid prototyping

We empathize with teams who have historically agonized over picking the perfect journey. It used to take a lot of time and great expense to get a new journey to market, so the pressure to get it right first time was tremendous.

Despite access to data, 72% of CX leaders report that their organizations still do not fully understand what drives their customers’ behaviors and attitudes. Thanks to advances in technology and the development of lean startup practices like design thinking and rapid prototyping, we now require much less time and resources to get a new experience into the hands of our customers. Let’s break this down a bit to give you a clearer picture of what this means.

In a traditional systems development life cycle, the requirements were often defined from the point of view of the person interacting with the customer, rather than from the customer. Historically disappointing results have proved that this inside-out orientation simply does not work. Making matters worse, waterfall engages the customer at the end of development process when it is more expensive to course correct. Design thinking aims to flip both of those issues. It’s an outside-in directed effort where customer testing occurs immediately and iteratively.

But what does this mean in practice? Imagine you’ve been invited to participate in a design thinking workshop in support of the initial chosen customer journey(s). The first part of day one is to open your mind to the ‘art of the possible’. You’ll be exposed to market leaders and best practices to give you inspiration around what you can do for your customers. The second part of day one will be iteratively devising the new journey in teams. You’ll ideally be working side-by-side with a digital team, so that you can begin building rapid prototypes in the moment.

On day two, you take these prototypes to actual customers to get their feedback. Hit the streets, literally! After you have heard their feedback, huddle in teams to decide what, if any, changes you want to incorporate for the afternoon rounds of testing. In just two days, you will have a prototype addressing the chosen journey that incorporates direct, and iterative, feedback from customers.

Step 3: Accelerate time to market with a customer engagement hub

Assuming that based on the iterative feedback you have a winner, the question becomes how quickly can you get it to market? In the past, legacy systems have been a major blocker and operationalizing a new journey seemed impossible. It is here where innovative technology can make the difference.

Enterprise Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) is not just a buzz phrase. It is an emerging category of software that enables you to monitor customer journeys in real-time and to orchestrate a crosschannel, cross-departmental customer experience. Primarily, a CEH provides 3 capabilities:

Listen & monitor

Rather than replacing your businesses technology stack, a CEH sits on the top, connecting and enhancing your existing tools, making them work better together. With connectivity to all the relevant systems, business teams can listen for signals, monitor customer interactions, and define the key moments of truth in their customer journeys. You get greater visibility and historical context through real-time journey monitoring.

Decide & act

A CEH provides powerful decision-making functionality. Business users can write complex logic and rules that interpret one or many customer signals. In turn, it triggers relevant, contextual interactions across any system or channel. This enables you to provide your customers with in-the-moment experiences, regardless of channel. That’s how you create those ‘moments of delight’ that engender loyalty.

Analyze & optimize

The path to best-in-class experiences is not linear. A CEH enables a test-and-learn culture and provides the analytics and optimization toolset to experiment your way to better outcomes.

With an agile CEH in place, you’re ready to build and launch your first journey. This is best broken up into two pieces — baselining and orchestration.

Baselining starts by defining the journey in the CEH. From there, live data flows through to create a real-time, data-driven journey map. The map visualizes the actual paths customers take, enabling you to identify the exact moments where customers experience friction, and drop out. Unlike static journey maps which only define ‘ideal’ or ‘to-be’ states, a data-driven journey baseline can be used for ideation and as the launching point for orchestration.

Orchestration is the proactive delivery of personalized, contextual engagement across all customer-facing channels. According to Gartner, by 2022, 50% of large organizations will have failed to unify engagement channels, resulting in continuing disjointed and siloed customer experiences. These are the companies that will not survive as their customers will quickly get frustrated and switch.

With the key milestones in the journey defined and the baseline understood, you can leverage a CEH to build and automate complex, cross-functional journeys. Business users can build ‘if-this, then-that’ type rules across any connected tool or data source, while more technical users can ingest and operationalize machine learning models in real-time. The end result is automated, personalized experiences at scale.

Step 4: Measure & continuously improve

Now that we have live journeys in place, the final step to delivering meaningful customer journeys is to measure and continuously improve the journey. At this point, it’s tempting to jump right into evaluating analytics or BI tools. Instead, you should leverage the built-in analytics of your CEH to ‘close-the-loop’ on the impact of your baselining and orchestration efforts. This allows you to correlate individual actions or touchpoints to specific journey and business outcomes.

As a best practice, you should measure the success and impact of customer journey orchestration at three levels:

Journey level

As the name implies, journey metrics measure the achievement of desired journey-specific outcomes. For example, opening a banking account, changing address with a cable provider, or successfully signing up for a rewards program and making the first purchase. Journey level metrics can be applied to all customers in the journey or for a specific segment.

Customer Level

Customer metrics look at the same type of outcomes as journey metrics, but at the individual level. For example, did customer #1 achieve his/her outcome? What was the series of interactions that customer #1 experienced before completing (or dropping out) of the journey?

Business level

Business level metrics connect customer journey improvements to demonstrable financial impact. For example, what are the operational savings associated with a customer self-service journey? How much have we saved by deflecting calls?

Next steps…

It’s important to remember that journeys aren’t static. While getting a journey operationalized is a significant milestone, it’s just the beginning of an iterative process to refine and improve it.

You should follow a ‘Prototype, Test, Launch, Measure, and Iterate’ methodology. This will mean you can get a journey producing the desired results with an initial test audience first. Then, you can scale a journey you know works across the entire business, maximizing value.

Next steps

Getting started with improving CX is challenging for most large organizations. But, by following these four steps effectively, it’s definitely achievable – we’ve seen it happen in practice many times.

Now is the time to act. By embracing lean startup practices and today’s evolving technology landscape, you can confidently, cost-effectively, and expeditiously make customer-centricity a reality.

We’d love to answer any questions you have regarding specific CX challenges. Get in touch today.