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How to Define Customer Experience – 4 Methods & their key ingredients.

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We’re going to explore Customer Experience, so let’s examine what ‘experience’ really means. According to the dictionary, it is defined as practical contact with and observation of facts or events; an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. Or to encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence).

You probably know by now how much I like talking about Customer Experience. This has been a natural path of growth for me over the last few years.

From building online products and services, to imagining global Customer Experiences in-line with the company’s vision. It actually makes so much sense to work this way – with the global picture in your mind, set as a direction, a goal.

Every decision is easier to make, collaboration is more efficient and, clearly, the results follow according to the effort invested. So I can’t help but promote it, you know? It’s like when you’ve just discovered an amazing product that works seamlessly, takes the frustration away and makes your life so much easier – you talk about it to your friends, convinced they will love it as well…

Working with Customer Experience methodologies makes my work life so much easier in the two aspects I care about the most: collaboration and customer satisfaction. That’s what I call a win-win situation.

Why focusing on Customer Experience isn’t a fad

Some might have thought it was a fad – CX here, Customer Experience there. It’s everywhere… but that’s not new. 

If there is one thing I knew before I started Business School it was: The client is king.

I’m sure you know about this one as well. It’s quite easy to comprehend and is at the heart of any customer centric user experience strategy.

Suddenly, the whole digital revolution happened… Then Steve Jobs came with his famous, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around”.

And, since then, this topic has just been getting stronger and stronger. Because the methodologies are getting sharper. Because the results are so obvious and promising.

All the inspiring companies everybody looks to are using these methods: Spotify, Patagonia, Nike, Disney, Apple… and so many more mature companies. They are imbuing an emotional connection into the customer relationship to the point that it becomes part of the company culture.

Today, we can even say that the customer is the marketer. 

They have much more power than ever before; they’ve been marketers’ ‘guinea pigs’ for generations, and grew up learning marketing tricks. People are aware of old fashioned marketing methods and they want better than just claims and advertising.

In 2019, GlobalWebIndex stated that 47% of consumers are blocking ads. I bet this figure has not been decreasing, either… So, yes – people know how to get rid of the incessant noise marketing brings into the world.

I know I’m being a bit harsh here… That’s not only a marketing issue… Lately, ‘customer experience’ has really been a matter of marketing because they built products, services and addressed messages to the customers. As such, the two primary touchpoints that made up the customer experience were people and products.

So it sounds about right to start there – but quickly you realize there are multiple touchpoints that need to be factored into the customer experience. And each touch point occurs on a cross-functional basis.

I developed a free downloadable Guide with templates to help you to determine your Customer Journey Map when you define your Customer Experience.

So – no – it’s not a ‘trend’ you should follow, it’s part of your digital transformation. But I’m not saying it’s only digital.

Embracing Customer Experience as part of digital transformation

The companies which are experts in Customer / Brand Experience, as listed earlier, are the true examples that give people both real life interactions and online interactions. Everything is interconnected. Even Amazon is building physical stores now! There is no such thing as ‘online’ and ‘offline’ businesses – everybody and every business is a little bit of both.

When you say ‘digital transformation’ it’s still a bit weird as we all have digital tools now that help us to, basically, live and work. The keyword here is ‘transformation’.

Yes – ‘transformation’ is not only a layer of tech that covers the existing, running business – it’s much more than that. But we’ll explore transforming in another article, and in another episode of my People&Digital podcast.

Adopting Customer Experience methodologies is changing how you operate, it’s delivering value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.

Now you understand why I brought the big ‘digital transformation’ concept to the table.

Key methodologies

So now let’s see what are the key methodologies to define and measure the Customer Experience:

  • Research and Segmentation:

Data is key. It’s not the ‘secret sauce’ but you want to have accurate and reliable data to build upon. These silos are the last place you want your biases or errors to occur. 

It all starts with the customer – that’s the motto – so you need a solid base from which to start to understand and take decisions. This work is your cornerstone, so you want to get it right.

Don’t forget to listen to my podcast episode covering Managers’ three main biases, or you can read the article, if you prefer. 

  • Buyer Persona also called the Ideal Client

A buyer persona is, according to hubspot, a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better it will align.

Once it’s done, share it, use it. 

Your persona is a fictional but living person. They are impacted by everything that is going on, so keep them close and refer to them as much as you can.

  • Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience your customers have with you. 

It helps to tell the story of a customer’s experience with your brand from original engagement and – hopefully – into a long-term relationship.

This is also an evolutive tool that will help you to understand, define and measure the Customer Experience at a high level, but also at a very, VERY detailed level, thanks to the many layers of information you can add.

I like to call it my problem-solving tool because everything is much more clear once we build it. Also, it is a real enabler for collaboration and stakeholder management. Check the free Guide and template I created for you to download so you can produce a seamless experience for your customers.

  • Experimentation

With all these methods running, you will have so many ideas to improve the CX and fix the problems. Some that you didn’t even have a clue about.

I encourage you to prioritize them using the Customer Journey map, but mostly you should experiment. Great ideas do not mean you get great success; the best approach is to break down the ideas in pieces and start to test them. If it’s not working, you learned from it; if it’s working fine, just scale it!

Every person in the company should be aware of these methods. The moment your job impacts the Customers, you will need to get familiar and apply the CX methodologies to provide the best to the Customers.

Pro tips & key ingredients

Now you know what to add to your To Do list, I would like to share with you some crucial ingredients you must not forget whilst defining your Customer Experience.

People need to belong, they will relate more easily with your brand, product, or services if you share the same purpose, the same values. Also, it will bring authenticity to your actions and messages.

I’m personally sick of greenwashing, of the fake ‘we are all feminists’ messaging. Seriously. These are not campaign topics – they are about purpose.

  • Personalization: 

This is not new but it goes way further than just using the right addressee name in an email. Yes… we are in 2020 and a lot of companies are still struggling with this simple personalization. 

Your client wants to be understood; personalisation is not just putting your next best offer out there on the right track, it’s about being relevant and bringing value to your customer.

  • Simple & Easy: 

Lately, the adoption of e-commerce has boomed. The last barriers to online purchases and online services conversions just collapsed. People have seen the best and the worst of the customer experience. 

Their level of expectation is higher than ever. There is a high chance that your ‘getting the basics right’ is already not enough. Your customers’ digital maturity grows quickly! They have no interest in embracing your corporate complexity through digital tools.

  • Accessibility: 

Be easy to reach, responsive and proactive – but there is more.

As you know your customer off by heart by now, you know which channels you should use for your services and messages. This is key to being contextual, relevant and helpful.

After all, what we are trying to do through this Customer Experience is to collaborate with your co-workers to deliver solutions to enhance customer experience in an easy and friendly way. Right? 

Well, these methods and ingredients will help you to build and improve experience, but we’ll have the chance to deep dive into each method to make sure you have all the elements you need to get results, at your fingertips!

One last thing to think about: the best way to define customer experience is by the impression you leave with your customer. This results in how they think of your brand across every stage of the customer journey. 

  • Are they blown away by the performance of the product? 
  • Are they delighted by the attention a customer support rep gives them to help solve their problem?

Customer experience is now officially of critical importance to the sustained growth of a business, and a major differentiator.

It’s important to create a positive experience that is both relevant and reliable for customers. This then encourages them to build brand loyalty, affinity, evangelize your product of service, and refer their friends. As well as leaving you positive customer feedback and reviews which will help your business to retain revenue and earn new customers.

I hope this has helped you to flesh out your ideas about Customer Experience and strengthened your will to adopt these easily actionable, powerful methodologies.

If you do try and adopt them, I’d be very interested to know! Don’t hesitate to reach out and share your experiences with me.

And, remember, it’s always a good time to start 🙂

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Amélie Beerens

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