At Edenspiekermann, we find that our clients are often surprised when we show them how their customers actually perceive their brand, service, or product. Was the service hotline really helpful? Was the newsletter relevant? Is the loyalty program annoying? Did they get lost in the online booking procedure?
A systematic analysis and visualization of the authentic customer experience, along all interactions with a brand service design, is a very powerful method for strategy development.
The customer focus inflation
Qualitative customer research is a growing discipline within UX design, marketing, branding, and product and service development. The process seems relatively straight-forward: by combining interviews, observations, user-data analysis and other research methods, a basis is formed from which customer journeys and personas can be developed.
A growing number of organizations have integrated these methods into their daily work, and these golden Moments of Truth have become popular currency when dealing with almost every aspect of B2C business development.
Is it helpful?
Being confronted with the reality of customers’ everyday brand experience can be disillusioning for many leaders. The reality is that hardly any organization is built to focus all of its departments’ efforts on designing a unified customer experience. Mostly, you’ll find the customer journey divided by several departmental barriers.
Customers, however, don’t care who within the organization is responsible for their good or bad brand or service experience. An uninspiring newsletter or a queue when calling the hotline is a broken customer journey, no matter whether it came from marketing, the customer service department, or even a subcontractor.
Sadly, this is the where many customer focused processes end: internal barriers get in the way of changing the customer experience because organizational structures offer no basis for collaboration across the silos.
What can we do as an agency?
We’ve been confronted with this situation several times at Edenspiekermann. Good intentions get strangled by unclear project responsibilities, and then the project stops after the first round of research.
There are solutions we try to apply to every project in order to avoid this. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way:
Work agile—no waterfalls: We introduce several research phases throughout a project, followed by short, lean prototyping phases. This allows for fast wins and motivates managers to work together across different fields of responsibility. It’s easier to agree on how to fix a few smaller issues than be confronted with a broken customer journey with many major problems.
Include internal stakeholders: Our research includes interviews with the most important internal stakeholders. In 99% of cases, broken customer experience is a symptom of structural challenge in the organization; it’s very rarely a result of an individual or team’s bad performance. Reward systems, conflicting strategies, unclear responsibilities or KPIs focused on personal performance rather than customer satisfaction are frequently seen as challenges. By identifying these areas, we can solve them as part of an ongoing process and create a healthy basis for optimizing customer experience.
Celebrate solutions: Customer journeys are the starting point, not the final result. Through experience, we know that a dedicated solutions budget is needed—even before you know what those solutions are. On several occasions, a project has been stopped after the first round of research. Why? Because responsible partners in the organization didn’t have the power to get the right people around a table and finance the development of solutions for the problems we identified.