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.
For the past five years, I’ve been leading Forrester’s research on measuring customer experience. With the recent explosion of interest in customer experience overall and the perennial popularity of metrics as a topic within that space, we’ve decided to expand the team that covers it.
I’ll continue to write reports about general measurement best practices and how to apply them in an enterprise-level experience measurement program. My colleague Adele Sage is adding to that body of work by exploring how the latest experience measurement theory applies in digital channels like Web, mobile, tablets, and whatever new channel they dream up next. And in fact, she just published her first two reports in this research stream:
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 industryrecognition for providing a great customer experience.
Earlier this year, I ran a workshop designed to help customer experience professionals get a jumpstart on the process of transforming their organizations to be more customer-centric. We got great feedback from that session, so we've decided to run it again on September 20 at Forrester's brand new headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
As before, this will be a one-day workshop that starts with an overview of the state of the practice in customer experience today and then takes attendees through our latest research on how to:
Choose the right customer experience strategy for your company.
Build a world-class voice of the customer program.
Generate active executive participation in customer experience programs.
Transform your company culture to be more customer-centric.
I’ll share what’s working inside real companies and lead a series of exercises designed to help attendees benchmark their own firms against best practices. At the end of the day, we'll put it all together into a set of customized, actionable steps designed to jump-start your customer experience program.
This session will be an educational, interactive, and entertaining way to figure out how to start turning your organization into a customer experience powerhouse. For more information and a detailed agenda, please visit the event page for this workshop. I hope to see you in Cambridge!
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.
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.
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!).
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.