Customer Journey Mapping? Been there, done it, so what?

Customer Experience Journey Mapping (CXJM) has become a commonly used approach for many organisations attempting to design innovative new processes that improve the experience for customers. The objective is to identify emotional “moments of truth” for different persona’s at different stages of a customer journey. For most organisations, there are many different “persona’s”, touchpoints, channels and this results in the work to map out entire customer journeys as being a lot of hard work. CXJM

However, this does not mean that the exercise is futile. Far from it. Done well, the mapping brings to life those moments that matter to a customer (and when I say customer, you could substitute the word Employee, Partner, Citizen or Visitor just as easily). In the example below, the journey was of a patient attending a MRI Scan.

IMG_0540

Without wishing to delve too deep into the methodology or process of the CXJM exercise, I am fully bought into the value it brings in identifying the key points that impact on a Customer Experience. Some might be obvious (e.g being routed to another Call Centre agent to whom you have to repeat all the identification process and explain, again, why you called). Others are more subtle (e.g Being forced to create an account online for what is likely to be a one-off purchase).

However, the question that I am often asked is why the process of CXJM often leads to….not a lot.

I was at a CXJM introductory event recently where the delegates were asked to put their hands up if they had ever done Journey Mapping before. Approximately 50% of the audience enthusiastically put their hands up. They were then asked whether the outcome of the exercise had been worthwhile. Again, almost all of the original hands remained up. Finally, they were asked whether they had implemented changes based on these findings. The hands in the air disappeared rapidly leaving just one or two delegates awkwardly looking around as if they had done something wrong.

This is not unusual. I often hear of organisations who “did” Journey Mapping but the output is on a shelf or in an archive file somewhere. So why is that?

Journey mapping, done correctly, identifies everything that is needed to positively impact the experience. The players, the technology, the process and policies. However, this is also where it runs into trouble. It becomes too darned tricky. It is easy to identify a problem but is not often as easy to fix it.

It may require money, time and stakeholder buy-in that exceeds the perceived value of the exercise. One of the biggest challenges is that to address any given issue requires input from a variety of sources that may be external to the initial Journey Mapping exercise. For example, what may seem like a small change to a website to a CX practitioner could require scheduled effort from Web Developers, Testers, Project Managers, Technical Analysts, Product Owners and many others. The suggestion then gets put into the “too hard” basket and is “backlogged” into the “future feature” set which, as many frustrated Change Agents know, means “never”.

So what can be done?

I believe that more realistic expectations for the success of Journey Mapping should be set by planning a roadmap for change. The roadmap should be the next step after the CXJM and should focus on multiple, incremental changes based on the output from the Journey Mapping. The most immediate changes would be those where the biggest impact can be achieved with the minimal disruption and input.

This might help avoid the time and expense of creating a Business Case. The days of Big Bang mega projects are (hopefully) in the past as the need for rapid and innovative change lends itself nicely to multiple, smaller Agile projects. However, Journey Mapping should also help identify the measurements of success that would be needed to justify any proposed change.

Perhaps the changes could be classified and viewed as per the matrix below?

benefit impact

So how does one know how to categorise and prioritise the changes?

Firstly, I would suggest creating an agile cross functional team, with the CX leader acting as Product Owner. By cross functional, I do not mean technical. It should be a blend of Business and Technical skills that can assess and prioritise. For this team to determine the delivery roadmap, the sponsorship of a senior leader is essential in being able to take the next steps and remove roadblocks. Being able to demonstrate success through regular small change from a customers perspective will give an impetus to the roadmap as well as delivering a tangible return on any investment.

Secondly, I would not assume that your organisation knows everything about its customers experience. Involve them. Bring in a Customer panel or forum. Interview them. Appoint customer champions. Do whatever is necessary to ensure that your roadmap WILL make a difference to your customers. In fact, I would involve customers in the Journey Mapping itself.

Finally, ensure that the roadmap achieves a consistency of Customer Experience across all channels. Your Contact Centre can be the best in the world but if you then look to migrate people to lower cost channels where it takes twice as long to transact, then there is an inevitable impact on customer satisfaction.

As Confucius once said, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one small step”. Make sure that you have the roadmap for your journey and then be brave enough to take that first step. I look forward to hearing more clients starting to get great outcomes from their Journey Mapping.

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10 tips for a Common sense approach to CRM for small companies.

Over the years, I have often been bemused by the attitudes of many running “small” companies. Whilst some behave like major corporates, others behave as if they simply do not care about winning or retaining your business.

It is well known that most new businesses fail within 3 years. Therefore, how can CRM help your company to not only stay afloat but actually grow and turn into the company you wish it to be?

Now I hear some of you saying “Ah, but how can a small company afford a CRM?”

You are assuming that by CRM, I mean software that can automate aspects of your Sales, Marketing or Customer Service processes. I am a big advocate of these systems but only when deployed properly and with appropriate, balanced consideration of the people and process transformations that need to go hand in hand with such an initiative.

In this article, I suggest 10 tips that will not cost a cent. Technology can help but the examples I will give you point to applying common sense rather than a stash of cash in delivering great customer experiences to acquire and retain customers.

  1. Look after your customers whether they are purchasing or not.

About 7 years ago, I sought some investment advice from a Financial Broker. Had he just accepted my proposal, he would have made a tidy income that day. Instead, he got to know me and talked about who I was, what I wanted out of life and my financial priorities. It was so conversational that I didn’t realise he was profiling me to see whether my proposal made sense. It didn’t and he advised against it. In fact, in the space of the next two weeks, he invested at least 8 hours of his time to persuade me against buying anything from him at that time. I was puzzled. How could he waste his time without remuneration? Nevertheless, I followed his counsel and did nothing for 6 months. My circumstances then changed so I went back to him for further advice. Same outcome. Sound advice but no cost and no purchase.

To cut a long story short, I remain a loyal customer of his and I have made decisions over the years which benefit him financially. He invested in me as a long term customer, recognising that the lifetime value of our relationship was far greater than a quick buck. He looks after me just like Tom Cruises character in the movie “Jerry Macguire” although I do not shout “Show me the money”.

Be loyal, honest and respectful to your customers so that you might expect the same in return

2. Be reliable, punctual and communicative 

One of my pet hates is unreliability. Unfortunately, it often goes hand in hand with small businesses. I cannot tell you how many times I have emailed, phoned or written to small companies yet without reply. Being late falls into this category. I don’t mind appointments being late, so long as I’m told in advance.

I recently had a great experience with a small company who I had found via Google. I rang a mobile number and got an answering service that made it clear that they were not available that day (they were updating the message on a daily basis) but promised to return all calls the next day. Sure enough, my phone rang at 9am next day where a lady clearly explained who she was and apologised for not being able to take my call the previous day. I wanted a quote which would require a site visit. Instead of overpromising, she set my expectation by saying that because demand for their service was so great, they set aside dedicated times for new quotes so that it did not interfere with completing ongoing projects. That made sense to me as I’ve often felt small business are so keen to find their next job that the existing job gets distracted. I made an appointment at their convenience and was told that they would ring me the day before to check that I was still available.

The odd thing is that once I was off the phone, I realised that I had done everything on their terms but had not minded as their professionalism was so good that I felt their service would be good too. That’s not a bad way to win new customers.  Of course, there is more to it than just that but I am impressed at their attitude which leads to my next point:

3. Act like a big business with the agility of a small business

The dichotomy of business growth is that the larger you get, the more the need for standardised processes which can often introduce more paperwork, bureaucracy and stifle innovation and agility. A good indicator of the ability to retain a small business feel is your connectivity to your customers and the subsequent brand advocacy.

Brand Advocacy occurs when your customers feel like an extension of your company and will defend/promote your company as passionately as you would. Do not confuse Brand Advocacy with big brands that people buy for a status kick. This is often only as deep as the fashion itself but true brand advocacy is where there is genuine connectivity between a company and its clients creating loyalty and referred business. The growing trend in recruiting Chief Customer Officers is an attempt to establish that customer intimacy and advocacy. For more on this, I recommend following the excellent blogs by Jeanne Bliss.

As a small business, you should be your own Chief Customer Officer and at every decision point, ask yourself what would your customers want. If you don’t know, you are not close enough to them.

4. Make a note of the detail 

A local Mexican restaurant we first visited a few years ago has achieved our loyalty through being clever enough to not only listen to its customers but to turn that listening into a revenue stream. When we first went there, the waitress asked my wife whether we were married. We confirmed this and she then asked us whether we were out for our anniversary. I said No. Before we knew it she came back with a simple form asking us for our names and anniversary date. She told me that on our next anniversary, they would treat us to a free bottle of wine as their anniversary gift to us. Over the next few visits, we realised that they were gradually finding out our birthdays, children’s names and what our favourite meals/drinks were. Interestingly, every birthday, we get a voucher posted to us for a Birthday Meal on them! When we dine there, our waitress always recommends wines to meet our preferences. We also get invites when they do “specials” on our favourite meals. This intelligence has come from just getting to know us but also tailoring their “offers” to our known likes and special dates.

I must be honest and say that the food, price and service is great but not amazing. However, we find ourselves visiting there more often and spending far more at this restaurant than we might otherwise have done so. I’ve told many locals about this experience which then brings me to my next point:

5. Referrals are critical advocacy 

Since it is up to 10 times more expensive to acquire a customer than to retain one, why don’t more businesses leverage their happy customers to gain more customers. Word of mouth is not just profitable, it is extremely powerful. Of course, whilst news of a good experience can travel fast, the speed of a bad experience will outpace the good experience significantly. One of my recent clients has a great product but they sell in an industry where there is a lot of misinformation, over representation and, historically, mis-selling. However, those who do buy are generally very satisfied and churn rates are very low. The company realised that the best way to overcome the negativity in the Sales cycle is to ask their existing Members to become a Sales team. Members are encouraged and rewarded for leads and for accompanying their own leads through the sales process. This reassures the new prospects and leverages the enthusiasm and advocacy of their friend, the existing member. It is a genuine win/win/win.

The prospect gets to buy a great product reassured and accompanied by their friends.

The member is rewarded with club benefits for the referral which increases the more they refer.

The company benefits by increased sales with a lower cost of sale. It is another benefit of creating a great customer experience. Advocacy and therefore referrals become much easier.

6. Paying attention to the smaller details can create loyalty 

Melbourne, Australia is a hub for coffee lovers. There are so many outlets, from the very small to the corporate giants yet everyone seems to have their own favourite.

One day, I was introduced to a small outlet where the queue went back around the corner yet there were only two people working in what looked like a hole in the wall. I asked my colleague whether this was the best coffee in town. He didn’t agree but he did say he wouldn’t go anywhere else. When we got to the front of the queue, the Barista greeted my colleague personally instantly knowing his preferred beverage. Not only that, he asked him how his eldest son had got on at a Football Trial and whether he had been able to finish building his new garage. As we waited for our coffee, which wasn’t quick given the queue, I noticed that the Barista seemed to know everyone in the queue and showed an interest in each and every one of them. He clearly had an amazing memory but I then realised that the loyalty was being driven by our basic human need to feel important and to be connected. I quickly became a loyal customer and thought nothing of waiting 10 to 15 minutes for my coffee. It became an outlet away from work and a part of my social calendar. It really had nothing to do with whether the blend of the coffee was any better than the competitors, although it was good!

However, one day I got served the wrong coffee and I complained. The Barista not only immediately resolved the situation by fixing me the correct brew without question but he also said “next ones on us Nick” and, of course, he didn’t forget. What a great way to treat your customers. No wonder it is such an iconic coffee spot to many of the Melbourne city workers.

7. Interact to gain honest feedback as opposed to NPS

Small businesses cannot necessarily afford full blown Net Promoter (NPS) or Customer Experience Management tools but there is a better way.

Being a smaller company, why not ask your customers for feedback directly? Explain that you are continually seeking ways of improving your service and/or product and would appreciate any suggestions. This does not mean that every suggestion needs to be applied but trends will emerge. You can also extend that to customers who do not buy or customers who do not return. Your own personalised exit interview! This intelligence will help you know how to continually sharpen your competitive edge and to keep in touch with your customers needs. The trouble with a lot of NPS initiatives is that they are simply a corporate scorecard where customers are asked the wrong questions. Small businesses can gain more insight from direct interaction and open questions.

8. Cashflow is king so reward prompt payment

Small businesses often sink or swim due to cashflow and prompt payment is of huge benefit to most small businesses. Therefore why not offer incentives for your customers to pay on time or earlier than would be normal. If you cannot afford to discount, why not add more value to your early payment offering? Being customer centric does not just mean providing service with a smile. It infers that you develop the ability to view 

9. Employ based on customer centric skills and values

If you want to develop a customer centric company, then make sure your new hires are recruited based on their alignment to these values. Build reward into their salary or compensation plans based upon customer centricity. It is easier than it sounds. You can set up an online survey for your employees to gather direct customer commendations or feedback. During interviews, ask for specific examples of them providing outstanding customer service or ask how they might resolve a customer complaint. At appraisal time, ask your customers for their feedback. As an Employee, I did this in the late 90’s and got a double promotion as a result of client feedback. It works!

10. Know your “wow” factor from a customers eyes?

Standing in the shoes of your customer might appear to be a simple task but in my experience, it is often not done or is done badly.

Your business needs a competitive “Wow” factor. It could be the Product, The Service, The Price or speed. This competitive edge is what you are proud of and when selling, it is probably the thing you are most proud of. However, is it what your customer truly needs?

Without 5pwishing to revert to the Marketing Mix basics taught at every business school, I would add that no matter what your competitive edge, you need to know what it is from a customers perspective.

I like to call this “Outside-In” thinking. You think as an outsider to apply the learnings from the perceptions internally.

Years ago, I took my family for a holiday up in the Italian Alps, north of Milan. We rented a house from an Artist who came from the village but had homes in Germany and Spain too. We loved it. We raved about it and returned frequently. One time, the owner was staying with his family in the village and came over to see us. My daughters ended up painting with him in the garden and we enjoyed a relaxing evening in his company. He apologised for the lack of garden, the clutter in his home and the lack of a parking space, promising that he would sort it all out. I asked him why he was worried about it. He replied that most guests wanted a tidy house with somewhere to park their car and relax in the garden. He saw this as very important attribute that he had neglected through not being “at home” very often. Had he stepped in our shoes, he would have seen that we loved the artistic clutter, the tiny garden afforded amazing views and that the lack of parking was more than made up for by fresh bread delivered every morning, log fires, friendly villagers and a peace and quiet that was quite unique. I’m glad he didn’t see it like that else he would have marketed it differently, charged more and we would never had been able to get a booking!!

How do your customers see your business? Nurture that wow factor as it may be something you take for granted.

Being customer centric is not necessarily about acquiring software. It is an attitude. A behaviour that is the catalyst for enlightened processes.

Why I have changed my view on CRM technology

For years, I have been preaching to anyone that will listen that the strategy must come before the software. People + Processes + Technology. I have used examples such as buying a car to explain my argument.

Most people would not go out and buy the car that looks best. They would first of all decide what they need a car for. They might then decide on a few criteria to narrow the search depending upon their own needs. safety, Speed, Economy, Luggage capacity, Auto, Price etc. Once this “strategy” had been reached, the search for a car could begin.

I have always believed that CRM software should underpin the business strategy and facilitate providing benefits to the organisation and its clients. However, maybe I was wrong?

Technology is now at a stage where it is providing features and capabilities that can INFORM a Strategy. In other words, a business strategy could be built around a CRM tool. Having seen some of the latest tools and capabilities from the likes of Salesforce, Sugar, Oracle, Kana etc, I am increasingly convinced that for many organisations thinking about CRM, the software could give them market leading strategies and game changing capability. There are capabilities that many companies would not have thought of which might create huge value. In the past, industry processes led the design for software. Now it seems that software design is opening new doors for business processes. Just look at how Social Media has “forced” organisations to change its internal and external processes. Does your organisation have a Social Media strategy? If so, I bet it has only been developed in the last two years.

I can imagine young or smaller enterprises could benefit from this wave of new capability. App Exchanges and Open Source platforms are driving a wealth of rich, new CRM capability that is beyond the imagination of most companies.

With immature processes and potentially tight budgets, a software led strategy can help enforce new processes (that could be leading practice for that industry) and can help cement in customer centric processes.

However, I still believe that larger organisations will need to develop strategies first and then find software that can support and extend those strategies. It will be interesting to see how the SaaS model affects uniformity and adherence to standardised processes and whether we do start to see software led customer centric transformations.

I would be very keen to hear any thoughts or experiences on this topic.

How the Chief Customer Officer Drives Customer Experience Results by Paul Hagen

How the Chief Customer Officer Drives Customer Experience Results by Paul Hagen.

Great article but I’m still to come across a CCO in Australia. Examples anyone?

“Do what I do, not what I say”

How often do we hear of people who say one thing yet do another?

Unfortunately, for the last year, I have been tasked with developing a CRM product but without being “allowed” to use Social Media. I was not allowed to blog, tweet or even post video’s on YouTube to evangelize my strategy, thoughts or latest updates.

I’m now free from such constraints and will be again blogging about things I’m passionate about:

  • Responding to “The Voice Of The Customer”
  • Developing and delivering mutual value from customer centric processes
  • The use of Social Media to drive value, loyalty and awareness
  • Understanding the best way to deliver CRM
  • oh, and maybe the odd bit of naming and shaming!!!!!

In doing so, I am only intending to pass on a perspective based upon my own learnings and experience. It is not instructional and should be taken as food for thought. In my own business philosophy, I try to inspire and lead by getting others to do what I have done rather than recklessly following what I say without question. Therefore, as always, feedback and discussion is invited and please do continue to share this blog with anyone with an interest in putting the customer at the heart of everything they do.

CRM and Xmas

Why is it that some companies good work in delivering customer service throughout the year goes to pot over Xmas?
I have had a few recent examples where it appears that a lack of preparedness has undermined any goodwill generated previously.
A good example is an excellent web site that I use frequently.

It is called “I Want One Of Those” and features novelty gift items. It is innovative, fresh and well designed. However, it appears to be a victim of its own success.

However, the increased pressure from Xmas has overstressed a poorly designed “non delivery” process. I ordered a present from Australia to be delivered to my parents in the UK. It never arrived. When I enquired, they responded promptly to tell me that I had to complete a “Statutory Declaration” stating that it hadn’t arrived. In other words, they didn’t believe me. They put the Stat Dec form in the post to the RECIPIENT (therefore spoiling any potential surprise) and my parents promptly filled it in and posted it back. By now Xmas was upon us and nothing more had been heard. I chased them up and they had no record of ever sending a Stat Dec to my parents or of receiving one back. Therefore, we had to do it all over again. I asked whether, given that we are in the 21st century, we couldn’t use email to save time. After another day of delibaration by IWOOT, they agreed (poorly designed process!!!) and within 24 hours, they had the 2nd Stat Dec.

By now, it is nearly 2 months since I ordered. I chased them up again yesterday. They confirmed that, yes, they had the Stat Dec but that the item I had ordered was now ‘no longer available” and they would refund me my money.

Think about the Customer Experience. How do you think I feel as a Customer? It was meant to be a birthday present so, thanks to inefficiency at IWOOT, the secret was spoilt and remained unfulfilled. Very unsatisfactory. A refund is hardly what I wanted to hear.

How much of this is due to Xmas and how much to poor processes, it is difficult to say. I do know, however, that their processes have been designed to suit IWOOT (inside-out) and not from a customer perspective (outside-in).

However, there is an interesting conclusion. Have I churned? No. Why? Because the “product” is that good that it is worth more to me to continue using them until a viable alternative appears. This challenges the notion that customer experience drives loyalty. It certainly is a major factor but is not the only factor.

The DNA of a CRM system

In thinking about a generic CRM technology product, I was recently asked what the common components are. Having recently been involved in a high profile government RFP and Vendor Evaluation, I have come up with the following list of common components. I believe these components represent the DNA of a CRM Technology solution.

In thinking about a generic CRM technology product, I was recently asked what the common components are. Having recently been involved in a high profile government RFP and Vendor Evaluation, I have come up with the following list of common components. I believe these components represent the DNA of a CRM Technology solution.

Continue reading “The DNA of a CRM system”