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Five steps to an integrated customer experience

1st Dec 2014

Back in 1997, Steve Jobs famously said, "You’ve got to start with customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around". His mantra still holds true in today’s technology-driven business world – and maybe more so than ever.

From Zappos’ ‘Deliver Happiness’ philosophy, to Amazon’s policy of ‘never settling for 99%’, organisations worldwide are investing a great deal of time and budget into optimising their customer experience. This goes for consumer propositions as well as for business-to-business sales.

Similarly, the concept of a single customer view is well-established, as is the need to actively use this ‘single lens’ approach to provide a rich and consistent experience to customers. Yet 65% of customers say they are still receiving an inconsistent customer experience.

So where does the problem lie? Customer interaction with a business now involves more and more touchpoints across various channels. Organisation are failing to put clear processes in place to optimise, and standardise, their customer experience across all of these – and, critically, use customer data to shape their approach.

In order to truly integrate customer experience into every facet of the company’s day-to-day operations, companies should follow a five step approach:

1. Define customer experience

Customer experience is an emotional concept, the results of which manifest themselves in various ways depending on the industry. For a retailer like Tesco, for instance, a positive customer experience could be demonstrated by a customer adding more items to their online basket or signing up for a Clubcard whereas for a vehicle dealer it could be a customer increasing brokerage charges or referring their friends and peers.

Whatever the goals, it is important to define customer experience in measurable terms – as a composite of different variables that impact the business. These measurable targets should become a key part of the end objectives that the company is working towards, such as up-selling or customer retention.

2. Map the customer journey

Customers now interact with a company through a multitude of different channels, from physical stores to websites, mobile apps and social media. UK fashion retailer, Oasis, for instance combines an ecommerce site, a mobile app, physical locations, in-store iPads and an online “Seek and Send” service.

This means that companies are now dealing with data streaming in from a plethora of different sources. By collating these disparate datasets, companies are able to map the continuous customer journey, helping them predict customer behaviour and enabling them to personalise the experience that each individual goes through, which, in turn, boosts customer loyalty. Importantly, these data sources should be used as and when available, in an incremental fashion, rather than waiting for all the data to come together.

3. Connect the journey with the experience

By using the path modelling concept on the customer journey map, businesses can discover which ‘paths’ drive overall customer experience scores up, helping them understand the ‘emotional’ journey of a customer based on their past interactions.

Along with this, organisations should also make sure they are segmenting customers based on their tenure, demographics, survey data, etc, allowing them to tie together the relationship between customer profiles, paths and experience. This is imperative to help companies develop up-to-date data driven action plans.

4. Create a ‘playbook’

After the correlation between customer profiles, customer interaction journey, and customer experience has been quantified, companies can then create a ‘playbook’ of favourable and unfavourable paths for each customer profile. This can be a useful tool in helping to prioritise customers and actions with the highest potential impact on the organisation.

5. Continuous Learning, Feedback & Improvement

Once these procedures have been put in place, it goes without saying that it is essential to continuously assess, improve and change the strategies to keep the ‘playbook’ up to date. Enhancing customer experience is not a one-time exercise, or necessarily a big project with infinite ROI, it is a continuous journey and one which evolves constantly to keep up to date with new developments in technology, analytics and customer habits.

Every interaction with a customer, no matter how small, should be consistently monitored, and companies should make sure they are always ‘connecting the dots’ in order to build an evolving system that improves with each encounter. 

Manoraghava Ponnam is engagement manager at Mu Sigma. Mukund Raghunath is client partner at Mu Sigma.

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