I’ve been talking a lot lately about customer experience ecosystems. And I’ve been getting tons of questions from people who would like to learn the tools and processes for mapping their own ecosystems.
Good news! Paul Hagen and I are hosting a Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping workshop in San Francisco on Wednesday, November 16. During this full day of presentations, hands-on exercises, and discussions, you’ll learn how to use Forrester’s ecosystem framework to:
Detail a specific customer journey and key touchpoints. (If you’ve got them, bring your existing personas and customer journey maps.)
Identify the people, processes, policies, and technologies that influence those customer interactions — both the parts of the ecosystem that are in plain view of customers as well as those parts that influence the customer experience from behind the scenes.
Identify the root causes of customer experience problems.
Prioritize fixes to these problems.
You’ll leave with a solid start on your own ecosystem map — and the know-how to complete it back at the office with your extended team.
Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative exercise, and we feel you’ll get the most out of this workshop if a colleague joins you — so we’re offering a 10% discount to companies who send two attendees.
I’m a Dropbox customer. I originally signed up for the basic plan — 2 GB for free — but ran out of space quickly and decided to upgrade to 50 GB of storage. So I forked over my $99 and got the following confirmation page:
A gold star! A hand-drawn cartoon! Now I know this page wasn’t designed specifically for yours truly, but when I saw it, I felt special. Like the people at Dropbox actually gave a damn that I had just given them $99 of my hard-earned money.
Compare that with the $700 I spent recently for several nights at a large hotel. My final bill was printed on a plain white sheet of paper and was so devoid of any brand messaging that I feared it would raise eyebrows with our finance department! Consider the $1,600 I just plunked down for a multi-leg transcontinental flight. The airline’s confirmation email didn’t waste any time trying to sell me on a rental car, hotel room, and credit card — but didn’t even wish me a pleasant trip. Or take my credit card company — which processes tens of thousands of dollars of business expenses for me each year. When I look at my bill, the things that pop out are how much I owe them, by when, and a late payment warning — key pieces of information, yes, but reading that bill leaves me feeling like I need a shower.
These small touchpoints — a receipt, a confirmation email, a bill — play a functional role in customer interactions. But they also represent prime opportunities for companies to reinforce their brands and (perhaps even more importantly) make customers feel good about where they spend their time and money.
In the US alone, Forrester is forecasting nearly 100 million smartphones by the end of 2011. And digital customer experience professionals are meeting the new mobile demand by creating or redesigning mobile experiences: 34 of the 48 customer experience professionals we surveyed at the end of last year said that they’re planning major mobile design projects in 2011.
In the rush to create great mobile experiences, most end up focused only on what occurs within the browser/app experience. But we know that consumers often call the call center when they can’t accomplish their goal on the Web. And that transition isn’t always seamless.
Let’s say we have a customer using a mobile banking app to look up the balance on his mortgage. Once he sees how much is left, he wonders what his options are to refinance at a better interest rate. He can get some basic refi rates in the app, but he wants to know whether, as a longtime customer, he can get a better rate. He goes to the "Contact Us" screen in the app and clicks on the phone number.
What happens next? He starts at the top of the IVR. He has to identify himself all over again and route to an appropriate agent. Talk about a frustrating experience for the customer and a waste of time for the agent to recapture what he was doing!
Remember: A smartphone is also a phone.
If the browser or app experiences are built for seamless transitions to phone agents, they should:
My colleague Andrew McInnes recently wrote a post about the tunnel vision that results when companies rely solely on analytics for understanding customers. By neglecting qualitative research methods like ethnography and related tools like personas and customer journey maps, firms run the risk of thinking they know what customers want and need but in reality not having a clue. And that’s the root cause of some of the worst customer experience problems — issues that can drag down a business.
Take the case of Kevin Peters, Office Depot’s president, North America. Kevin recently spoke at our Customer Experience Forum where he described the biggest puzzle that confronted him when he got his job. Even as sales declined, store mystery-shopping scores compiled by a third-party research firm were going through the roof. How could this be? How could customers be having a great in-store experience but not actually buying?
As it turned out, the mystery shoppers had been asking the wrong questions. They were accurately reporting that the floors and bathrooms of Office Depot stores were clean and that the shelves were stocked with merchandise. But as Peters put it: “Who cares?” When he personally visited 70 stores incognito, walked the aisles, and talked to customers, he discovered his real problems. For example, the combination of very large stores, weak signage, and employees who weren’t all that helpful made it hard to find products. That resulted in customers who walked in determined to buy and walked out without a purchase.
I started an unusual research project recently. As a follow-up to my report on the customer experience ecosystem, I wanted to dig into the highly visible role of frontline employees like call center agents, in-home service technicians, and retail staff. Specifically, I wanted to know how customer experience professionals could help these folks understand how they personally affect customers’ interactions and perceptions of the brand.
The topic was – I thought – pretty straightforward, and it essentially boiled down to two main questions: What’s the best way to share customer feedback with frontline employees? And should you compensate frontline employees based on their individual feedback?
But what made this research effort so unusual, and so unlike most of my other projects, is that as I conducted more and more interviews, the opinions and “best practices” began to diverge wildly. I found a variety of incompatible tactics. But more than that, I uncovered major differences in management philosophies and deep passions underlying those beliefs.
What’s the best way to share customer feedback with frontline employees?
A bevy of enterprise feedback management solutions can help managers collect and analyze feedback from customers – and not just about their overall impressions of a company, but about interactions with individual frontline staff members. Firms can collect survey-based quant data and/or verbatims. But what to share? The answers I’ve encountered include:
Oh, look what came in the mail yesterday: The order I tried desperately to cancel last week. But, no, UPS dropped it off, and the packing slip said nicely, “Thank you for your order! We are committed to ensure [sic] your experience exceeds your expectations.” Well, you failed.
Let me start from the beginning.
You see, I’m working on reviews for the latest “Best And Worst Of Website User Experience” report (check out last year’s report if you’re curious), and this year we’re evaluating the user experience at the top four tablet manufacturers’ sites. Instead of actually ordering brand new tablets, we are substituting an inexpensive accessory, completing the checkout process, and then immediately canceling the order so that nothing ships and no cards get charged. All went fine in canceling three of the orders, but the fourth, from a company that shall remain nameless, proved more difficult.
Here are all the steps I took to try to cancel the order:
I tried chat. I went to the “Help” page on the site and found listed in the contact info section a link to chat and a phone number. I initiated the chat and reached an agent, but the conversation was very slow (about 20 lines of communication in 15 minutes), the rep was hard to understand, and she couldn’t help me. She told me to call 1-800-[company].
I tried the website itself. I could check order status very easily on the site, but the info just told me the status (“In process”) and provided no contact information in context for order questions.
Are you a customer experience professional? Do you have 10 minutes to spare? Would you like some free data about the current state of customer experience?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, please be a lamb and fill out Forrester’s Q3 2011 Customer Experience Survey. (We’ve designed this to be super speedy for you to fill out — 10 minutes at the maximum. We promise!) We’ll ask you a few questions about:
How people throughout your organization get involved with customer experience efforts.
The intersection of marketing and customer experience at your company.
The interaction of social media and customer experience at your company.
The info you provide will help shape several reports that we’ll be publishing over the next few months.
The survey closes Wednesday, September 14th. After that date, we’ll analyze the data and send you the aggregate responses to each question — even if you’re not a Forrester client.
So give some, and get some! And thanks in advance for helping fuel our research.
(By the way, this survey is for customer experience professionals who are working to improve customer interactions with their own companies. Agency folks, tech vendors, and consultants: We’ll hit you up another time.)
I’ve just published a new report in response to all the great questions I’ve been getting about the customer experience ecosystem and the process of ecosystem mapping. Here are a couple of the questions (and answers!) from the report.
What is ecosystem mapping?
Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative process that helps companies identify the set of complex interdependencies that shape all of their interactions with customers. Typically conducted in a workshop setting, teams identify and document the people, processes, policies, and technologies that create the customer experience. This includes those parts of the ecosystem that are in plain view of customers as well as those parts that influence the customer experience from behind the scenes.
What benefits should companies expect to get out of ecosystem mapping?
Companies that undertake ecosystem mapping exercises can expect multiple benefits, including:
Detailed knowledge of customers’ journeys. When customers and frontline staff join ecosystem mapping workshops, teams can construct a detailed picture of what customers go through when they interact with their company. More often than not, teams identify interactions that frustrate customers as well as opportunities where companies could interact with customers, but don’t.
Greater understanding of the interdependencies within the ecosystem. Ecosystem mapping helps teams identify previously hidden people, processes, policies, and technologies — and the customer interactions they influence.
In my keynote at Forrester’s recent Customer Experience Forum, I introduced the audience to the emerging field of service design. Here’s a short video clip in case you missed it:
Because of their breadth and their focus on creating value for customers — as opposed to, say, developing marketing communication programs — service design agencies are key partners for companies looking to improve or overhaul their customer experience. If you’re not familiar with service design or haven’t yet worked with a service design agency, you should:
Read the Touchpoint journal.Touchpoint is the publication of the Service Design Network (SDN), a professional association for service designers and customer experience professionals. You can order hard copies on the SDN website or get Kindle editions from Amazon. (Disclosure: I’m on the Touchpoint advisory board, contribute a regular column, and act as an occasional editor.)
(This post was co-authored by Megan Burns and Andrew McInnes so appears on both of their personal blogs.)
Customer experience management (CEM) has become a marketing buzzword for technology vendors as of late. While this isn’t surprising given the current energy around customer experience in general, it is a problem. Here’s why:
Customer experience management is a discipline, not a technology. To truly manage customers’ experiences, an organization must understand its customers’ needs, how it intends to meet those needs, and how it is currently performing. It must also have people, processes, and tools in place to use that insight in order to design and deliver the right experiences and continuously improve them over time. Vendors that currently claim the CEM name (Adobe, Medallia, RightNow, Tealeaf, and others) help clients with various aspects of the management process like experience insight and delivery. But they can’t replace the overall discipline and activities required for a company to get customer experience right.