To get a grip on your customer experience ecosystem — the complex set of relationships among your company's employees, partners, and customers that determines the quality of all customer interactions — you need to map it, co-create it, and socialize it.
When I say “co-create it,” you might think of websites like My Starbucks Idea or Dell’s IdeaStorm — and those sites are great, but they’re not exactly what I’m talking about. Focus groups might also come to mind — but they’re not what I’m talking about, either. When I talk about co-creation, I’m talking about active participation from employees, partners, and customers throughout the experience design process — from upfront research to in-person ideation sessions and concept testing.
As I mentioned in my keynote at Forrester’s recent Customer Experience Forum, this is an approach that Fidelity Investments has taken to heart. It's been working with the Stanford d.school — yup, that’s “d” as in “design” — to embed co-creation within Fidelity’s organization.
The picture below shows a workshop in which Fidelity employees have immersed themselves with pictures and notes from in-field research looking at how Gen Y consumers interact with money.
Companies that want to improve their customer experience need to understand the intertwined and ever-evolving relationships among their internal employees, external partners, and customers. Forrester calls this complex set of relationships the customer experience ecosystem.
As I said in a previous post, to get a grip on your own ecosystem, you need to map it, co-create it, and socialize it. And when I say “map it,” I mean that you need to systematically uncover and document the ecosystem's hidden dynamics.
Here’s a story of a company that did just that: English utility provider Southern Water. (If you live in the southeast of England, you don’t get your water without these guys.)
For a long time, Southern Water was handling about 50 water-meter installations per week, all at its customers’ requests. But a few years ago, the company decided to roll out universal metering street by street across the region, moving toward 500 installations a week.
Many customer experience initiatives don't meet their full potential — or worse, fail completely — because companies don’t have a complete picture of what the customer experience actually entails or the dynamics that go into creating it. In order to break from their tunnel vision, companies need to understand their customer experience ecosystem: the complex set of relationships among a company's employees, partners, and customers that determines the quality of all customer interactions.