Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Problem Solving Process - Step 1: Identification

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results -  Albert Einstein

I doubt Professor Einstein had customer experience in mind when he expressed his now well worn quote, but I think it applies just the same.  As mentioned several times in preceding posts, a solid customer feedback system, together with a closed-loop response process, is as essential to your CX activities as establishing a strong aerobic base is for most competitive athletes — in both cases, these are foundational activities.  

The focal point of an effective problem solving process is to go beyond a one-and-done problem fix, and continue probing the issue in order to identify the root cause of the problem, most likely followed by a redesign of a customer interaction in order to prevent the problem from recurring (i.e. stopping the insanity).  In this first in a series of Problem Solving posts, let’s focus on the identification of areas where the company is not delivering the optimal customer experience.

Identify the Problem - Using the Results From Your Transactional Surveys

Over the course of several previous posts, we completed the heavy lifting associated with developing your organization’s transaction surveys.  You’ll recall that a key output of the survey is a trend report.  This simple report identifies the frequency of instances where clients indicate dissatisfaction with a particular aspect of their interaction with your company…typically this dissatisfaction is indicated as a score of 3 or less on a 5 point scale.  In the sample report below from our Transaction Survey, we have a total sample of 500 respondents over the course of 3 months.  You can readily see the three “pain areas” beginning with the 375 customers who scored the Clarity of Instructions as 3 or less.  These under-performing areas are the starting points for the organization’s problem resolution. 

To further support our identification of under-performing customer experiences, we can also turn to the Satisfaction vs Importance report that also is a component of the Survey System that we developed. Continuing to look at Clarity of Instructions, the report indicates that customers rate this as a very important aspect of their experience.


It’s important to note that trends can be identified from a variety of sources in addition to the reporting from your company’s transaction surveys.  If your organization has a social media presence, for example, a similar tracking exercise can be undertaken where you track the frequency of negative mentions for a particular aspect of your operations.  This can be done manually, but if the company has a significant social media exposure, it may be worthwhile to invest in a formal tracking service.  Another potentially rich source of customer feedback is, or course, your company’s call center.  Here again, depending on the volume of activity, it may be useful to purchase a tracking application that allows for the classification and tabulation of customer issues.  The point here is that as your comfort level with issue identification and problem solving increases, you should be adding to your sources of customer information and tracking accordingly.

As the CX Manager, I suggest that you, and perhaps a data or statistical analyst, own the Identification step.  While there may be multiple areas where the company’s customer experience is not performing well, only you likely know what the priorities are in the context of the company’s strategic objectives.  In other words, you’ll likely first want to address those CX areas that have a direct line into supporting one of the organization’s important strategic choices.  Beginning with the next post and Step 2 in the Problem Solving Process, you’ll want to form a Problem Solving Team with a good cross-functional representation of staff from across the company. 


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