On February 14, Amelia Sizemore and I delivered a Webinar about customer experience co-creation. We received so many questions that we couldn’t answer them all during the call, so I’m answering them (in brief) here:
How is co-creation different from human-centered design?
Co-creation is a process of face-to-face active collaboration with your company’s employees, partners, and customers. It’s not an explicit step in a human-centered design process – it’s a methodology that can be applied to any stage in that process.
How does co-creation fit with journey mapping?
Co-creation can help you explore and address misperceptions in your current customer journey maps. For example, you might plot out the customer’s journey as you perceive it, and then bring customers into a co-creation workshop to poke holes in it, point out inaccuracies, and tell you about steps you’re missing.
Once you’ve had customers define what’s really happening today, you can involve them in co-creating the ideal customer journey for tomorrow.
During the co-creation process, is there room for negotiation? What if customers want an experience that just isn't possible from a business perspective?
The term “co-creation” might sound like this activity is focused on defining polished solutions. However, its primary purpose is actually to unearth deeper insights.
Last month, I was in Europe with a group of customer experience professionals from various divisions of the same large company. Although their expertise was at varying levels, no one was clueless, and everyone seemed highly motivated. About halfway through the all-day session, one of the attendees asked me a question that I’m going to paraphrase here.
After some preamble about the pressures the company was under to increase revenue and profits, he asked, “Given that, when should we put aside the need for profits and fund customer experience projects instead?”
His question surprised me. And I clearly surprised him when I responded, “Never.” I let that hang in the air for a moment so that it could sink in. Then I added, “You should never put aside the need for profits when you fund customer experience projects.”
I could see that people were a little confused, so I went on. “You should only fund customer experience projects that will produce profits. That’s why you do those projects in the first place. And if you have other kinds of projects that will produce better business results, do them instead. But if you take the time to create the business models for your CX projects, you’ll probably find that they’ll produce better ROI than most of the initiatives they’re competing against.”
To be clear, the guy who had asked the question seemed very bright and had a lot of expertise in his area (metrics and measurement). But he had fallen into the same trap that so many customer experience advocates fall into. He wasn’t thinking of improving customer experience as a path to achieving business results. Instead, he was thinking of it just as a generally good thing to do for customers (which it is, but that’s not why you should do it).
Are you trying to take your current customer experience measurement to the next level?
Many of the customer experience professionals we talk to regularly are working on improving their customer experience measurement. You are probably one of them. You might be working on picking the right metrics, on connecting customer experience to business outcomes or to operational variables, on using data to improve the customer experience, or on getting traction for CX measurement in your organization. To conquer any or all of these challenges, you need a solid and well-founded customer experience measurement framework.
I was flipping through the 2012 Forrester Voice of the Customer Award nomination forms the other day, and I realized that I’ve been unwittingly holding on to an valuable resource — all the advice that we asked nominees to impart on other voice of the customer programs. The very last of the six questions on our nomination form is, “What advice would you give to other organizations to make their programs successful?” We got some great answers from the 40 or so nominated companies, so I pulled together the top 10 pieces of advice. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own VoC program, look no further than the advice of your peers.
1. Build executive support. The majority of nominees offered this advice, and it’s consistent with Forrester’s own research showing that executive support builds a foundation for VoC success. Executive support helps CX pros put key building blocks in place, such as adequate tools to collect and analyze data and processes to systematically act on it. How do you build support? Prove the value of the program by demonstrating tangible business value. Track the results of service recovery efforts to save unhappy customers and aggregate the results of improvement projects initiated by VoC-collected data.
It’s Valentine’s Day, so shout it as loud as you can: “I love my customers!” Now, prove it by designing products, services, and experiences that actually meet their needs. How are you going to do that? By involving actual customers (as well as employees and partners) in the design process.
This collaborative activity, called co-creation, might ring a bell — two of my recent blog posts addressed what co-creation means and what the benefits are. Co-creation is a versatile and valuable methodology. And while it might seem effortless, it usually doesn’t happen on the fly — which is why Amelia Sizemore and I wrote our latest report, tackling the logistics behind planning a stress-free and productive co-creation workshop.
Newbies often assume that the workshop itself will be the most challenging part of a co-creation initiative, but most of the heavy lifting actually occurs before participants ever show up. Advanced preparation — and lots of it — ensures a smooth and productive workshop that feels like it runs itself. For example, you need to:
Hook participants with the right incentives. T. Rowe Price asked a lot of its participants — in addition to a full-day co-creation workshop, participants completed a 30-day diary study and a phone interview. In exchange, the company rewarded each person with an iPad.
"Can consumers respond to having an experience with multiple companies?"
In some cases, yes, and in some cases, no. In the bank, credit card provider, insurance, consumer electronics manufacturer, airline, hotel, and rental car categories, they can pick up to two brands they’ve done business with most in the past 90 days. For retailers, they can pick up to four. For the other six industries, they are limited to one.
"What is the threshold to determine if the person is a customer? Interactions one time, over time? A recent experience?"
We don’t strictly require the person to be a customer. The person could be a prospect or a former customer. All we ask is that this person has done business with the company in the past 90 days.
"Why don't you track high tech?"
We do, actually. Two years ago, we added the consumer electronics manufacturer industry, which covers most of the latest high-tech gadgetry. We don’t include software in part because there are just so many types of software and so many brands. It would be hard to narrow them down to something manageable.
It’s time again for our annual survey about all of the digital customer experience improvements, redesigns, and new digital experiences you’re working on this year. Please consider taking the survey, where we’ll ask you about:
What projects, if any, you have planned for this year.
Details about those projects, like budgets, staffing, and research tools.
Incremental improvements you’re working on in addition to — or instead of — the big projects.
To what extent all those projects and improvements are integrated.
Not planning anything? That’s okay — we still want to hear from you!
The info you provide will help shape an upcoming report. And good news: To thank you for your time, we’ll send you a copy of that report when we publish it.
Despite professed customer centricity, many firms don’t think to involve customers, employees, or key partners in the experience design process. That’s unfortunate, because this activity — called co-creation — can help companies understand what types of interactions will best meet people’s needs and then figure out how to implement those interactions the right way.
Co-creation might sound familiar. Some people use the term to refer to Facebook ideation contents or crowdsourcing websites like mystarbucksidea.com. But in the experience design world, co-creation isn’t about soliciting hundreds or thousands of ideas through an online community. It’s the process of face-to-face active collaboration for the improvement and/or innovation of mutually beneficial products, services, or experiences. During co-creation workshops, teams focus on eliciting deep insights from participants — and translating those insights into tangible prototypes that can be evaluated in real time.
Co-creation is an extremely versatile tool, one that can inform the design of discrete touchpoints, complex customer journeys, emotionally resonant experiences, and just about anything else you can think of — even the employee experience. But pulling off an effective co-creation session requires extensive planning, preparation, and willingness to let a few customers behind the scenes.
So what’s the payoff? In our recent report, Amelia Sizemore and I outline several of the benefits co-creation provides, including: