Mapping Customer Experience
I have spent a large period of my life in designing: plant layouts, business processes, information systems and organizations. During these years I have seen, studied and applied several styles, methods and tools to design… and now I’m at the stage of designing the customer experience. I asked Kristina Tool, design strategist and customer experience designer, based in Milan, to explain what customer centricity is and how to implement it. Kristina brings a hands-on approach to service and customer experience design and design strategy. She helps organizations to innovate processes, services and experiences, applying design thinking principles to create a user centered approach.
P. Kristina, what Customer Centric Design is and what are its peculiarities?
K. Customer Centricity is designing of the processes, products, services and business strategy from the perspective of understanding who your customer is and what your customer wants to achieve, both emotionally and practically.
A customer centric organization takes this knowledge and actively applies it to create a better overall experience for their customer.
Many businesses achieved great success by focusing on their “product”, but now as customers are becoming more demanding and have more options, it is not enough to consider the product in isolation. Companies that do well today consider the overall customer experience, from all points of interaction, and across time, from finding your company, deciding to purchase from you and then what happens after the purchase.
The people inside of a customer centric organization analyze the entire customer experience across all points of interaction with their organization. They ask how they can make it easier for their customers to find them and learn about how they can solve their customer’s problems. They don’t stop this analysis at the point of purchase either, (it is not “out of sight, out of mind”) they interact with and actively support their customers after a purchase is made.
Customer centric organizations look for where the customer experience is inconsistent, unclear, frustrating or unsatisfying in some way. Once these pain points within the customer experience are identified they can then be resolved.
P: Why should companies be developing a more Customer Centric approach?
K. Recently I did some research for Generali Assicurazioni, one of their issues is the insurance industry churn rate of 20- 25%, so in an effort to keep more of their customers (while striving to acquire new ones), they are changing how they operate.
Putting your customer at the center starts by understanding the experience with your company from the viewpoint of your customer. Decide who your customer is and what his needs are, then understand how you can better meet these needs.
You may have a few customer types, but it is unlikely you are trying to be all things to all people. Do your customers value sustainability, prestige, adventure or speed of service? High quality, tiny details? Considering these needs can help you to examine your interactions with them. The company’s values have to be expressed in a clear way and must be consistent in all the interactions with customers.
P. Can you give me an example?
K. There are numerous businesses in Italy which make high quality products in a variety of sectors. Visiting their website or reading marketing materials they often profess such quality and attention to details, however if they are intending to appeal to an international market, the translations of their websites and brochures are often filled with grammatical an syntax errors. It is hard for a customer to believe words about quality when the translations are poorly done.
Regardless of who your customer is, all customer centric organizations must deliver on their promises. It is easy to “talk the talk” about being customer centric, but do your actions match your promises from the eyes of the customer? Customer centric organizations examine this and make improvements where needed.
P. How can I effectively examine the experience of my client?
K. The values of an organization that guide its culture can make it easy or hard to be more customer centric. Businesses, even some of the new startups today, but certainly long established organizations are often structured in a very hierarchal manner with isolated departments where information and actions got blocked. The focus is internal and often not very open. An organization that looks to understand what its customer sees from the outside will be able to be more customer centric. To do so, requires curiosity, openness and the willingness to try something new.
The Customer Journey Map is helpful tool for seeing how the customer has an experience with a company. This mapping process enables all inside an organization to see how their roles relate to the customer journey and how the customer moves across channels. A journey maps looks at the multiple touch points your customer uses to learn about and interact with your company; for example service calls, storefronts, websites and emails interactions. A journey map examines if how a customer transitions between these touch points and if the needed information provided in a smooth and easy manner, or is there lost time, conflicting information and inconsistencies? A customer journey map can be a great way to reveal where the problems lie and help to establish a starting point or taking action to address the problems.
P. Do you have one last tip for me?
K. Like many aspects of the business, (sales, product development, marketing) customer centricity should become part of the company’s DNA, and an essential component, without which the company cannot survive. Rather than thinking of customer centricity as a “project” the company culture and values should create an environment, which supports building a better customer experience. Overall, a company culture which supports curiosity, open exchange and willingness to try something new will fare better than one in which is strictly hierarchical, separated and fears change.
P. Thank You Kristina for your good advice. You gave me another reason to get out of my box, look what I offer with the customer’s eyes and redesign it with him.