There’s More To Service Design Than You Think You Know

TSA, America’s infamous airport security organization, made headlines last year when it placed the blame on passengers for long lines at airport security, claiming that individuals were at fault for showing up to checkpoints unprepared.

Any time an organization puts the onus back onto the user for not being able to properly navigate a service should raise a huge red flag.

Now if the TSA scenario doesn’t scream service design misalignment to an informed CX pro, then it’s important to clarify what we mean when we talk in terms in “service design.” By Forrester’s definition:

“Service design is a creative, collaborative process that draws from the tools of human-centered design to holistically improve and innovate new value for users as they move through sequential service interactions.”

As CX pros continue to build out their CX design tool kits, they will have an advantage if they can discern that service design allows them to:

  • Scale a human-centered mindset through processes and tools. Design-led organizations such as Apple, Tesla, Airbnb, and Slack won’t go to market with a new service until they carefully analyze and understand the impact it will have on customers as they move along the service journey.
  • Take the pulse of the broader CX ecosystem. The holistic, end-to-end nature of service design gives CX pros multiple opportunities to appraise the health of a broader user journey. Logically, process reengineering around the needs of the customer thus forms a critical component of service design. 
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Lots To Learn From Pokémon GO

The Pokémon GO phenomenon washed across the globe like a tsunami — and while the pace at which it subsided was almost as sudden as its inundation, the customer experience (CX) lessons that it has left behind are invaluable. The game’s success reveals key elements that any company can borrow to create its own powerfully engaging multisensory experiences. By simultaneously activating multiple neural systems and chemicals, a larger, multiplier effect is observed. Consider how Pokémon GO:

  • Stokes the anticipatory-reward system with constant yet unpredictable rewards. The euphoric “high”  that we feel when we anticipate a future reward, especially as it gets closer, motivates people to continue pushing for the reward in order to receive more intense and stimulating dopamine-driven pleasure sensations. However, an additional component in Pokémon GO’s success is the unpredictability of discovery. Whether it’s a shadow of a rare monster in the vicinity, the anticipation of what’ll be hatched from a 10-km egg or the Pokémon that just appears out of nowhere; the potential-reward scenario increases levels of dopamine like no other.
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Join me in Sydney for a Dose of Product & Service Design Thinking in Financial Services, August 4th

I started my corporate career in financial services – working for several large, global high street banks in Asia. During my time “in the trenches” of wholesale and mass affluent consumer banking, I watched a number of ambitious and well-intended new product and service ideas rise through the ranks of budget approvals and stakeholder support only to make it to market and then die a slow death on the vine when customer adoption or planned value failed to meet expectations.

Notwithstanding, the ideas were good – many smart people worked on these projects. However, equipped with the clarity of time, I reflect back on some of those projects today and see a common thread between them. Fundamentally, those shipwrecks all shared one thing in common – they were never properly vetted with the customer before they were commercialized.

Today, while financial institutions are getting smarter at collecting quantitative data around channel experiences; the qualitative validation piece, the ethnographic research piece, the co-creation with customers piece is still missing in most organizations. In some cases, it’s only happening at the bleeding edge. While agile methodologies and minimum viable product-quick-to-market thinking has closed the gap on aligning with customer needs and expectations, the industry as a whole would benefit from an injection of human centered product and service design thinking to move the industry’s CX from good to great.

Join us for our inaugural invitation-only Next-Generation Financial Services summit in Sydney on Thursday, August 4 where I will delve into the topic of design thinking for financial services with my presentation, Fix your Products and Services with a Dose of Design Thinking.

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Welcome To The Dawn Of Anticipatory CX

Forrester’s CX Index shows that, across the board, companies are getting better at delivering quality customer experiences (CX). But in as much time as it takes to open a celebratory bottle of champagne, the tide of rising customer expectations threatens to push the product or service CX pros have been working on for so long toward obsolescence. Essentially, customer expectations are rising faster than companies can conceptualize, design, and deliver improved experiences.

Now, imagine if you could better manage your customer’s expectations before the delivered experience — first by elevating your customer’s positive emotions as early in the interaction as possible and then initiating a positive emotional momentum that will carry throughout their journey with your brand. It’s called anticipatory CX and it is the most powerful element of CX that you’re not currently paying attention to. Consider the following:

  • Evolution gave us anticipation as a motivating force. People are wired to anticipate future happy experiences as opposed to negative events. When you think about the BBQ this weekend or your friend’s wedding next month or a vacation later in the year, you’re anticipating a positive experience. Your brain’s intrinsic anticipatory-reward system has kicked in.
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What The World Can Learn From Japan's Exquisite Service Culture

Those of you who have spent time in Japan might have noticed that interactions with service staff there play out in a carefully choreographed blend of ceremony and gratitude, regardless of whether you’re buying a coffee at the corner shop or a bag at a local boutique. The paradox is that this delightful customer experience occurs despite most companies in Japan lacking the accountability, rigor, and coordination that characterize leading CX global organizations.

What's interesting though, is that a high level of empathy enables Japanese organizations to overcome their CX maturity shortcomings by delivering an exquisite level of hospitality service. This empathy-focused culture is rooted in what the Japanese call omotenashi, a spirit of unobtrusive and respectful approach to guests that anticipates their needs, bestows respect, and surprises them at every point in the service scenario.

One misconception is that this exquisite hospitality is solely and inherently connected to Japanese culture and cannot be easily replicated elsewhere. Parents and schools inculcate an awareness of and sense of empathy toward others into Japanese children from an early age, and this ethos permeates Japanese society. However, as Charles Darwin pointed out in his book, The Descent of Man, everyone is born with an intrinsic level of empathy that remains present to varying degrees in all of us. Companies should recognize that omotenashi can take root anywhere and can begin planting the seeds of an omotenashi culture in their companies by codifying CX empathy programs that, in principle:

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Best Practices For Managing CX Via B2B Partner Networks

While much of the glitz and glam around customer experience has orbited around B2C organizations, Forrester believes that the imperative shift toward customer experience and subsequently, customer centricity, is creeping into the B2B space – sooner than we might expect.

Recognizably, there are inherent challenges in distributing through channel partners, not the least of which is a lack of direct contact with end customers and the complexity of trying to manage experiences that cannot ultimately be controlled. All of which pose sizable obstacles to CX professionals in such organizations. My most recent report describes six principles and examples that companies selling via channel partners should consider to better manage their prescribed end user experiences so as to align with the company’s CX strategy.

Here are several of the key collaborative principles that can help B2B companies foster better partner alignment:

·         Apply B2C tools to understand your partners.  More and more firms are creating B2B personas from stakeholder maps, co-creating customer journey and empathy maps with their channel partners, and implementing voice of the partner (VoP) programs to capture CX sentiment from their intermediaries.

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Differentiate Your Customer Experience with "Signature Moments"

Every March, children run around, eagerly filling baskets with Easter eggs. The eggs come in all sorts of colors and sizes, some hard to find, some more easily discovered.  The ritual continues every year with the Easter Bunny (or parents in rarer cases) hiding eggs to impart joy and wonder in innocent children.

One can analogize that smart companies have taken over the role of the Easter bunny, trying to bring joy and delight to customers, not children.

While the holistic brand experience, or Easter egg hunt, looks at the sum of these interactions – each interaction can be broken down further into a series of microinteractions.  These small-scale opportunities, when carefully tied back to the brand, give birth to what Forrester calls ‘Signature Moments’ - which we define as: 

Memorably crafted and branded microinteractions that deliver delight and value to customers in an often subtle yet, recognizable way.

In my report, Differentiate your Customer Experiences with Signature Moments, I describe the ‘what, how, and where’ of Signature Moments, provide examples, and look at how they can be carefully designed and infused into broader customer journeys to delight, differentiate and ultimately resonate with local customers.

During ideation of these moments, take stock of the following:

■   Is it sufficiently differentiating?Assess whether the proposed microinteraction is like a literal signature, unique only to your company and not easily replicated by others in the market.

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Brands In China Have High CX Aspirations But Most Fail To Deliver

With recent drops in global stock markets and all eyes on China’s economy, the timing of the China CX Index report couldn’t be more serendipitous. While customer experience (CX) most likely doesn't have a direct impact on all this sudden share volatility, our research shows that there is a strong correlation between CX and revenue growth.

Forrester’s Business Technographics™ data shows that CX improvement is a growing priority for companies in China: 70% of tech and business decision-makers indicated that improving the experience of their customers was a high or critical priority for 2015 and 2016. However, CX Index scores reveal that these aspirations have yet to manifest themselves in actions and — more importantly — results.

Evolved from the inaugural assessment we completed last year, The China Customer Experience Index, 2015 now includes loyalty elements to the mix to gauge how well brands in China are at delivering quality customer experiences that create and sustain customer loyalty. This year, we examined 60 brands across five industries in China: banking, insurance, retail, eCommerce, and mobile device manufacturing.

At a high level, the results of 9,000 customer surveys in China revealed that:

  • No brands stand out as especially good or bad. The good news: No brands ended up in the very poor category. The bad news: none achieved excellent scores either. The vast majority of brands (80%) rated as just OK; 5% landed in the poor category, and 15% qualified as good.
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Customer Experience Pros Should Shift Their Focus From Needs To Expectations

Expectation Maps Are A Smart Way To Visualize Customer Journey Emotion

Talking to clients, it’s interesting to see and hear how the topic of “customer needs” still comes up as frequently as the sun comes out in Singapore. In a day and age when customer “needs” such as food, clothing, and human interaction are largely met, it makes sense for CX professionals to shift focus toward dynamically changing and ever-evolving expectations of what a quality experience should feel like.

When making a purchase online, for example, the “need” is for the item to get to the address provided in the time stated — that’s a given. It gets emotional when there’s a disconnect between the picture of the product purchased and the actual item received. Wildly exceeding or failing to meet expectations elicits emotional reactions that shape customer perceptions of the quality of a given experience.

Culture and language also have a very powerful influence on customer expectations, and companies need to be mindful of this when going after customers outside of their home markets and localize those experiences appropriately.

My latest report, part two in a three-part series on tools CX pros can use to customize customer experiences in markets they operate in overseas, explores expectation mapping as a tool to capture diverse emotional elements to augment your existing customer journey work.

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