When A Customer Experience Ecosystem Fails

Adele Sage

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.
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Give 10 Minutes, Get Free Customer Experience Data!

Kerry Bodine

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.)

Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping

Kerry Bodine

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.
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Want To Transform Your Customer Experience? Learn More About Service Design

Kerry Bodine

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.)
  • Attend the 2011 service design conference on October 20th 21st in San Francisco. This year’s global service design conference will look at service design’s impact on business. (I hope to see you there!) Companies in Europe can also attend several regional conferences that take place each year.
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How US Cellular Socializes Its Customer Experience Ecosystem

Kerry Bodine

To get a grip on your customer experience ecosystem, you need to map it, co-create it, and socialize it.

In a previous post, I talked about how Fidelity Investments co-creates its customer experience ecosystem. Through co-creation exercises and workshops, you can engage a fairly large number of internal employees, external partners, and customers in the design of your company’s customer experience. But for most large companies, this group will still only represent a small fraction of the people in your entire ecosystem.

That’s why you also need to socialize the ecosystem. You need to help every single employee and every single partner — especially those in behind-the-scenes roles — understand how their actions and decisions affect the customer experience.

US Cellular spends a lot of time doing just that. US Cellular certainly isn’t the biggest wireless service provider in the US, but it consistently receives industry recognition for providing a great customer experience.

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How Fidelity Co-Creates Its Customer Experience Ecosystem

Kerry Bodine

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.

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Want To Raise Your Net Promoter Score? Try Improving Your Customer Experience

Harley Manning

Many of our clients work at companies that use Net Promoter. I recently had dinner with two of them at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011. Both are senior people at companies that have been recognized as customer experience leaders in their respective industries.

When a third guest (Forrester’s CEO) asked them why and how they use Net Promoter Score (NPS), they gave remarkably consistent answers. In brief, they use it as a simple, easy-to-understand metric — one number — for aligning the business. Its main appeal is that busy executives don’t need to spend hours studying tables and spreadsheets to get a sense of how their firms are doing. Similarly, frontline employees down to the lowest levels of the organization find that NPS makes intuitive sense.

But there’s a next big (and obvious) question for people like our dinner guests who work to improve the customer experience at their companies: Does improving customer experience raise NPS? Because let’s face it, if your firm ties its overall health back to NPS, then you better be able to connect the dots for what you do, or you won’t seem to matter.

We’ve been wondering about this issue ourselves. So much so that late last year when we ran the big consumer survey that drives our Customer Experience Index, we included the Net Promoter question for two of the 13 industries in our study: banks and retailers. We were looking for a correlation between how people rate the customer experience at a company they do business with and how likely they are to recommend that company to a friend or colleague.

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Your Guide To Video Highlights Of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011

Harley Manning

Over the past few weeks, Paul Hagen, Kerry Bodine, and I have been posting our takes on Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011. We’ve included video of moments we like from 10 out of the 11 main-stage sessions (sadly, we don’t have video of the Voice Of The Customer Awards, but at least we have a list of the winners!).

To give attendees and others an easy way to find the moments that matter to them, I’ve assembled this guide to our posts about the event. If you find these posts interesting, you can jump into the discussions that started at the forum in our online Forrester Community For Customer Experience Professionals.


“Customer Experience Is Personal”

Harley Manning, Vice President, Research Director, Forrester Research

Here’s the man-on-the-street video I used in my opening remarks. We took a camera crew to Harvard Square and asked people to describe their best and worst customer experiences. Yikes!

 “What Is the Right Customer Experience Strategy For Your Company?”

Paul Hagen, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research

What is a customer experience strategy? What is it good for? How can you recognize a good one? Hear Paul’s answer, which sets the theme for the rest of the event.

“A Relentless Focus On Members”

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It’s Time To Develop Your Digital Customer Experience Strategy

Ron Rogowski

Today’s digital landscape is complex. As companies use digital interfaces to engage with customers and foster long-term relationships, customer interactions are spanning an increasing array of touchpoints, with customers often crossing multiple channels in the pursuit of a single goal. While this new reality is riddled with challenges, it’s also ripe with opportunities for companies that have a strategic plan for digital customer experience.  

In a recent report, and subsequent Mashable article, I made the case that companies need to develop and execute digital customer experience strategies. As opposed to digital marketing strategies that focus mostly on what a company will provide and where, a digital customer experience strategy determines the “what” and the “where” based on the “who” and the “how.” That is, a digital customer experience strategy balances company goals and strategy with user expectations (the “who”) and describes the intended experience (the “how”). This, in turn, guides specific investments based on what customers need and a well-thought-out way of delivering on those needs that leaves a lasting positive impression.  

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Customer Experience Is Personal

Harley Manning

Late last year, I attended a workshop at a small but quite interesting conference in London. The two guys running the workshop separated the attendees into small groups where each of us took turns describing the worst customer experience we’d had, and then the best customer experience we’d had.

I thought it was a remarkably effective exercise, and I would have liked to try something like it at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011. Of course with roughly 1,200 attendees, we couldn’t do that so instead we did the next best thing. A few weeks before our event we took a camera crew out to Harvard Square and asked some people on the street to tell us about their experiences.

Let me tell you a little bit about Harvard Square. It’s right in the heart of the Harvard University campus, which is right in the heart of Cambridge, Mass. — a town that Amazon.com recently ranked as the country's most well-read city.

The day we were there, it was graduation week. So in addition to the usual students and tourists from around the world, we met parents there for their kids’ graduation and alumni there for reunions.

We heard some fascinating stories, which led us to a few conclusions. For example, it’s very hard to satisfy every customer, every time — even for a customer experience icon like Apple.

Hopefully that first segment scared you just a little because when companies get the customer experience wrong, it makes a big impact.

But of course, there’s good news, too. When companies get the customer experience right, that also makes a big impact.

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