Execs In The Know- A Global Network of Customer Experience Professionals

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Bringing stakeholders close to the customer experience

The following is a guest blog written by Simon Herd, Director of Design Research at Sutherland Labs.  

Traditionally, user-focused activities have been conducted by specialists who either move from research to design directly themselves, or who pass the baton to others. This is partly a factor of history, but with UX now in the business mainstream it’s increasingly important to bring others closer to customers and their lives. Collaboration with stakeholders is king, but how do you do this smartly when we all have too much to do and too little time to do it in?

Why is collaboration so important?
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Often product managers and those responsible for success are primarily understanding their customers via metrics such as CSAT and NPS. These are deliberately simple, but create a challenge in understanding the why behind the what, which is crucial for identifying low-level change that makes a difference.

Involving users is the key to overcoming this, but techniques for doing so owe a huge debt to an academia and rigour in experimental design. Anything involving real users or customers is moderated by specialists, with stakeholders disconnected behind a one-way mirror or getting their understanding from an after-the-fact synthesis. There are very good reasons for this, as anyone who has seen stressed product managers observe their ideas being casually dismissed in a user session can testify.

However as UX moves out of labs and into mainstream business, UX activities can’t be solely conducted on this basis. There are too few UX professionals, who are in evermore demand as it becomes a mainstream concern. Also, an increasingly multi-touchpoint world means that knowledge needed to make products more effective for their users becomes increasingly diffuse.

So why doesn’t it happen more?

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10 signs your CX program needs to work harder

The following is a guest blog by Simon Herd, Director of Design Research at Sutherland Labs. For more information on Sutherland Labs, visit http://www.sutherlandlabs.com/

Many organizations have set up customer experience (CX) programs in the last 5 years, and they’re to be congratulated as it’s an important step to becoming an experience-led business.

CX programs don’t realize ultimate impact immediately, they have to prove themselves and earn trust within the organization and become true masters of their domain. Furthermore, the massive demand for talented CX professionals means that it can be difficult to get the right capability up and running quickly.

But once you have your team in place, how do you make sure resources are being directed in the right areas? Here are a few pointers for executives to watch for to help prioritize where CX capabilities should be directed to increase impact.

1. NPS/CSat scores but don’t have a clear sense of the why

NPS, CSat and other metrics are great as a warning signal of troubled waters, but they are limited in terms of understanding the ‘why’ – what’s motivating a positive or negative score? Engaging directly with customers to get to this ‘why’ – how people use services, when and where – gives context not only to negative scores, but also allows organizations to understand and build on positive experiences. Complementary activities such as social media analysis can add weight, but closer collaboration between CX and analytics teams is key to realizing a holistic view of the entire customer experience.

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2. Journey maps that have been created without direct user engagement

Customer journey maps are an invaluable tool for aligning vision and road mapping the ideal customer experience. However, maps created only involving internal stakeholders, or using desk research and analytics can miss key insights and opportunities. If your organization has created maps in this way, they may not be in line with customer needs or priorities and there’s a need to get up close and personal with your customers.

3. Organization has too many customer journeys

If you have a journey map for your web experience, a journey map for your mobile experience, and yet another for your in-store experience you may be missing the bigger picture. It’s a common problem with internally focused CX teams and can be a symptom of being product (inside-out) rather than customer (outside-in) focused. Joining up all your customer experiences will help you frame your customer experience strategy and prioritize for impact.

4. Customer journeys are outdated

Remember that journey maps have a limited life span. Just as people’s behavior changes, and new products and services disrupt the competitive landscape, so too will your customer journeys. Journey maps don’t need to be constantly updated but setting realistic evaluation points will help capture the true current experience, and allow you to reframe and rethink your CX strategy.

5. CX teams lack staff who have a background in human behavior

New teams may be formed of members from product manager and marketing-related roles. These are great skills to have represented, but it’s crucial to go beyond this. The skills and mindset to understand human needs, motivations and behaviors are critical to identifying and prioritizing which design changes will have the biggest impact. For example, understanding ‘Motivation’ may not sound like it has a big business benefit, but motivation actually dictates how far customers will persist with a sub optimal product. Continue reading