3. Be self-aware in your relationships with your customers.
Clients often say, “We want to be the Amazon of the [fill in the blank] industry.” They see these model experiences and want to apply the same approach to their own organization. However, not everything that the Amazons, Apples, Ubers, Disneys, or Warby Parkers of the world do would make sense for every industry or client.
For example, consider the broad topic of how brands communicate with their customers. Customers’ expectations for how an organization communicates with them correlates directly to the relationship their customers feel they have with them—if any. A life-insurance client said, “We want to use SMS to engage customers, but we don’t know what content to include. We were thinking of doing, ‘Happy birthday.’” I asked, candidly, “Do you believe that your customers even remember they have life insurance with you?” They responded, “Probably not.” So I jokingly suggested a more appropriate SMS might be, “We see you’re still alive. It’s time to renew your policy.” My quasi-sarcastic point was that this life-insurance company needed to exhibit self-awareness about the relationship they had with their customers and understand their role in their customers’ world.
Is it possible to evolve a relationship to one where a more personal communication might make sense? Yes. But you first need to define the right engagement approach based on where you are now.
4. A process flow is not a journey map—and a business analyst is not a UX professional.
I’m not a believer that there’s magic in a journey map or other experience-design asset and won’t spend a lot of time debating industry lingo. (What really is service design?) But I do think it’s important to clarify the distinctions between things such as business requirements and user requirements, a business analyst (BA) versus a UX professional, and process flows versus journey maps.
Years ago, people simply didn’t understand or care about the differences between these things or get the value of User Experience. But that mindset has improved dramatically—so much so that, instead, I’m now seeing people try to UX-ify things such as process flows and business requirements. They sprinkle some human-centered fairy dust on it—for example, adding Emotions to a process flow and calling it a journey map. This has a two-fold impact: not only does it erroneously lead others to believe that a process flow is, indeed, a journey map but it also diminishes the discrete value of a process flow.
The reality is that you need equal representation of business, technology, and people to make a design a success.
5. The customer shouldn’t be the center of your universe.
Again, I know this statement may sound blasphemous, but the reality is that clients who are laser-focused on customer centricity often forget the broader experience and ecosystem of which the customer is a part. You must put equal focus on your employees. They may be responsible for interfacing with the end customer directly; or they may be more back office, but accountable for something that impacts the end customer. Regardless, if you don’t give these employees the tools, processes, information, and support they need to do their jobs effectively, this will eventually impact customers.
Companies are realizing that they need to consider the employee experience as complementary and of equal importance to the customer experience.
6. Solve the right problems and measure the right stuff.
Clients often have defined business objectives for an initiative—such as improving efficiency or increasing customer satisfaction—and they may even have measurements in place to assess their progress. But even when clients seemingly have concrete goals and data that illustrates problem areas, they may still be solving the wrong problem and measuring the wrong things. For example, clients frequently complain about low customer satisfaction with contact centers—perhaps based on survey data. They usually attribute dissatisfaction to long wait times or an ineffective interactive voice response (IVR) system—and these may represent part of the problem. But the reality is: calling a contact center is rarely the first path a customer would take. Customers usually want to solve any issue on their own through other self-service channels. If they call the contact center, it’s because those other channels didn’t work for them.
If clients don’t have a comprehensive Customer Experience (CX) measurement strategy, they won’t uncover all of the issues they need to address. The process for defining this CX measurement strategy involves journey mapping and identifying key moments at which measurement should occur. This process inevitably uncovers the broader issues that an organization needs to address.
Ideally, we can help our clients to redefine their solution to solve the full scope of the problems that we identify. However, more often than not, the client has already accounted for only the original solution—in terms of timing, budget, leadership support, and stakeholder alignment—so redefining the solution is not an option. In such situations, we must clearly explain what metrics we’ll be able to measure against accurately and what metrics would not be accurate until the full end-to-end solution is in place.
I hope you’ve found these bits of wisdom helpful for your own work—or at least that they validate some of your own experiences. I welcome hearing about the experience-strategy and service-design advice you find yourself giving to clients, colleagues, and direct reports in the comments.