Whether intentional or not, every business already has a “customer experience”. The question is have you designed this experience or is it just happening?
There are many frameworks that exist, we have used one time and time again and have seen the benefits in many organisations. The framework we deploy has four core components – Strategy & Promises (or proposition); Priorities & measurement (or facts); Processes (operating model) and People (or engagement & advocacy).
Below we have focused on the Measurement component, and how you can go about arming your business with THE FACTS it needs to become truly customer focused, support the right decision-making and create sustainable changes.
Firstly, let’s clarify why understanding the facts is so fundamental to organisations that aspire to have a customer focus or to be more customer centric.
All businesses, large or small, B2B or B2C, possess a huge amount of data. Businesses use this data to produce report after report and KPI after KPI.
Senior leaders use these reports and KPI’s to run their businesses. They will use them to determine the performance of their staff or third party resources. They will use them to determine the performance of the business strategy.
From our experience, in the high proportion of cases, the reports and KPIs that are produced in vast quantities are generally missing something quite vital – any link to the customer!
To test this statement, and what we are saying we have experienced, let’s ask you three important questions:
- Is ‘customer’ on the agenda of your regular business meetings (from board level down)?
- Is a customer metric(s) included in your performance management process and/or incentive programme?
- Are the metrics used to measure business performance related to anything the customer would deem important?
If you have been able to answer yes to these questions, you are definitely in good shape when it comes to deploying what we would describe as a customer focused measurement system. If you cannot answer yes, or know of organisations that cannot, you will understand what we are referring to when we describe organisations that make decisions ‘without having all the facts’.
Organisations who do not know all the facts, or who have the ‘customer piece of the jigsaw’ missing, are taking a big risk. They will be reacting to issues not fully understanding what the cause of the problem is. They will be making a judgment(s) as to what customers want and need. They will potentially be investing money and resources in products and processes that are not significant to their customer. It is not a surprise that the organisations that usually tend to fail, are the ones who have not understood what it is they need to do to continuously meet their customers’ needs.
Implementing a customer focused measurement system as part of a Customer Experience Framework/Strategy will complete the often, missing piece of the jigsaw. It will provide invaluable insight and understanding into what it is the business needs to focus on to improve customer perception.
So how do you do it?
Let us take you through the five steps to deploying a customer focused measurement system.
STEP 1 – UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Before you are able to implement the right customer focused measures, you must first understand what it is you are measuring! It has become very fashionable over the last two to three years for organisations to create customer journey maps.
Visualising and understanding the customer journey is a very important step in any customer experience framework. Understanding the journey and the key touch points or ‘moments of truth’ within it allows you to understand what it is that needs to be measured. Customer journeys can be very simple and very complicated. We always advocate the ‘keeping it simple’ method. Here is a high level example for car hire to get you started and the online shopping journey.
Once you understand the key ‘stages’ of your journey – see the car hire example – you can then drill down to the next level – identifying the touch points or moments of truth.
Once you have done this, you are ready to move to step 2.
STEP 2 – UNDERSTAND HOW CAPABLE YOUR BUSINESS IS IN DELIVERING THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Understanding your customer journey and the key touch points within it, enables you to start contemplating how able you are to measure the effectiveness of it. Going back to what we described earlier on the subject of KPIs, how many existing KPIs in your business relate to the customer journey and the interactions customers have throughout it? Without needing to know the answer, we can confidently assume that many of you reading this will not be able to answer this question positively.
Implementing a customer focused measurement system is not just about understanding customer perception. Your customer journey will deliver a CAUSE and EFFECT relationship. Your ability, or not as the case may be, to do what you are supposed to do at every customer interaction will be the CAUSE that will determine customer perception of that interaction. Customer perception is the EFFECT.
Understanding how capable you are at doing what you are supposed to do will enable you to a) determine how far away from ‘perfection’ your customer journey is, and b) act as a predictor of customer perception. If your capability drops this month, you will almost certainly be able to predict that customer perception will also drop the following month.
We strongly advocate the introduction of a customer-focused index that acts as your internal customer metric – we call this the Voice of the Process. The index known as the PMI or ‘process measures index’ allows you to measure the gap between current state and perfection – perfection is defined as the level that you aspire to get each customer touch point to. If the PMI were to be 100%, all touch points would be as perfect as you aspire them to be. Below is an example of how a PMI dashboard might look for the hire car journey (number of journey stages and metrics are dependent on the business).
STEP 3 – UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER PERCEPTION
Understanding customer perception – Voice of Customer – is a step in deploying a measurement system that most people are relatively comfortable with – and as such, we will not dwell on this too much. Many organisations have customer feedback mechanisms in place. Whether they be driven by Customer Satisfaction (CSat), or Net Promoter Score (NPS), or even now (CES) Customer Effort Score – it is obviously essential to understand what your customer actually thinks about your relationship with them. It is important that you do measure the relationship as well as individual transactions. Aligning your internal metrics (step 2) with customer perception will allow you to have a clear understanding of what may be causing the problem. One of the key objectives of any customer experience programme must be to identify what your priorities are to improve customer perception, which in turn will lead to greater loyalty, revenue and profit.
STEP 4 – UNDERSTAND YOUR COLLEAGUES/EMPLOYEES PERCEPTION
When we ask organisations whether they are measuring colleague satisfaction – Voice of Employee – within a Customer Experience Programme, they answer ‘Yes’ – so we ask this question again, are you measuring how satisfied your colleagues are with the tools, information, empowerment, training that they have in their kit bag to serve the customers well?
How satisfied would they rate your service and would they promote your Brand to the friends and family? This is what we call the – Voice of the Employee (VOE) – not what they think of their leader, if they have they had a one to one review in the last 6 months and so on… If you measured this you maybe highly surprised with the results.
Many organisations we have worked with, where we have measured this, are staggered by what their colleagues say and in some cases how their colleagues rate the service given, lower than the customers. These are the people serving your customers! So perhaps your start point is your own people. Create fans of your brands from the inside out!
STEP 5 – CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
This all leads to the fifth step – and perhaps the most important. A customer focused measurement system as we have described, will give your organisation invaluable insight. This insight will enable your business to clearly understand what it needs to do to better meet customer expectation.
Embedding a continuous improvement programme to address the ‘priorities’ for improvement from a customer perspective will ensure that the insight you are capturing will provide the focus your business needs. This should be split into three swim lanes: fix the here and now – the quick fixes, create advocates of your brand – start with your own people and your Strategic Plan. Be clear about your ambition and what your business should look like in 3-5 years time.
If your business is focusing resource and investment anywhere else, it should question why.
Continuous improvement in your customer journey is what will ensure the sustainability of your business. If you keep measuring the right thing, and addressing the priorities that have been highlighted through facts from your measurement system, you will be constantly adjusting to the changing needs of your customers
So – 5 Steps to deploying a customer focused measurement system.
It all starts and ends with the customer journey – just as your customer would like it to!
Linked to your Business Performance – just as your stakeholders would like it to!