Saturday, March 21, 2015

Customer Experience Trends - Currencies of Change

Interrupting the current series of posts discussing journey mapping to provide another summary of a recent report from trendwatching.com .  In Currencies of Change, the focus is on the role of incentives as part of the customer experience.  According to the report, smartphone apps, in many cases integrated with consumer wearable monitors, will enable companies to enhance the experience by using real-time incentives and rewards to help customers accomplish their objectives.

Some context referenced in the report…
  • 66 percent of consumers feel that their relationship with brands are one-sided, with them as the sole contributors, and brands as the beneficiaries.
  • There is an increasing focus in western society on self-improvement.  This accounts for the popularity of the “Quantified Self” movement, evidenced most notably by robust sales of activity tracking devices.  Paradoxically, however, the report also finds…
  • One-third of consumers who purchased a personal tracking device (e.g. a fitness monitor), stopped using the product within 6-months
  • While 89 percent of consumers surveyed said that taking personal responsibility for health is the best way to stay healthy, 91 percent admit to frequent fast-food snacking.
So, what gives from these seemingly inconsistent findings?  

According to the report, customers are not rejecting tracking devices or self-improvement.  Rather, they’re looking for meaningful incentives to keep them on track in pursuing their goals.  While conventional incentives, such as accumulating points for a future reward, are effective in some cases, many customer experiences require incentives that resonate more positively with customers’ social and emotional needs.  Some examples of successful use of incentives include…
  • Oscar Insurance - the Brazilian company provides its customers with a fitness tracker that monitors daily walking distance.  Customers maintaining a consistent walking discipline are rewarded with lower premiums.
  • Weight Watchers - customers are entitled to reduced fees when achieving weight loss targets.
  • Seda - another innovative Brazilian company…the haircare brand exchanges used shampoo bottles for cell phone credits.
  • McDonalds, Stockholm - citizens of the Swedish capital pay for their burgers by exchanging empty aluminum cans.
 As connectivity between consumer and company increases (look for the advent of smart watches to contribute to this), we’ll likely see this incentive trend continue to establish itself in both the developed countries and in emerging markets around the world.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Journey Mapping - Capturing Customer Expectations and Designing a Future State Customer Journey - Part 3

Let’s continue with the development of a potential future-state journey map.  We’re now going to begin using the various tools introduced throughout several recent posts to develop what we think will be, in this hypothetical, an ideal purchase experience for a specific customer type (Persona).  

Before embarking on a future-state map, it’s important to clarify some common misconceptions around this exercise.  Firstly, a future-state map is NOT an enhancement of a current-state version.  If the organization has concluded that the current-state journey is meeting customer expectations and perhaps requires a few simple modifications, that is best left as an enhancement project…not the development of a potentially all-new experience.  Secondly, a journey map…whether it be current or future-state…is NOT the same as a process map.  A process map is an INTERNAL tool depicting the various people, technologies, policies, and steps that together work to deliver an outcome that may or may not be customer facing.  Think, for example, of an e-mail notification advising a customer of a successful bank deposit.  There are likely numerous activities at the bank that need to be coordinated in order to transmit that e-mail…all of those activities are invisible to the customer…she only sees the output in the form of an e-mail.  That e-mail, then, may be part of larger journey the customer completes in doing business with the bank.  Eventually, a customer journey map will need to be included together with a wider organizational ecosystem (i.e. processes) in order to complete the design of the intended experience.  So, a future-state journey map is a depiction of the holistic experience the company is intending for the customer.  It fundamentally differs from the current-map because the objective of the future-state is to deliver a wholly new value proposition.  That value proposition, as we’ll explore in this and the following posts, is based on insights about the stated and implied customer expectations.

We’ll start by framing the context of our future-state journey mapping exercise.  The CX Manager at the ABC Heating Company has been tasked with supporting the sales effort for the firm’s new compact space heater.  The marketing department has identified college students living in dorms as a likely target for the new heater, and they’ve asked CX for help in designing an effective purchase experience.  The exercise started with research into purchase data together with the development of an initial current-state journey map.  Remember, this current state is a hypothesis of how the company thinks a customer completes a purchase transaction.  To create a future-state map, we’ll need to validate our hypotheses with a representative group of customers, and use that opportunity to gather their stated and unstated expectations.  With this as background, we can draw on our first CX tool…the development of a Persona for our journey mapping.

Remember that the development of a Persona will likely require some qualitative research to identify some of the key traits of the target customer.  In this case, we’ll want to interview a cross-section of students living in campus residences to get a sense of such things as…How do they typically purchase such items?  What’s the size of their dorm room?  Do they have a roommate or live alone?  For the purpose of our hypothetical, let’s say that our research indicates that the Persona for this purchase is a male or female first or second year student sharing a 300 square-foot dorm room one roommate.  Being students, they’re very budget conscious, and prefer to shop online.  They also place a lot of trust in online reviews and consult them as part of most every purchase they make.  We also learn that the dorm room is a bit of sanctuary for them from the pressures of school, and as such, want it to be as comfortable as possible.  

In a previous post, we introduced the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) tool as a way to collect and better understand the functional, social, and emotional expectations of customers in the course of experiencing a product or service.  Let’s use a hypothetical JTBD interview with customers as a first step in developing our future-state journey in purchasing the space heater.

Step 1 - Awareness (note, we’ll subsequently use these steps to frame our future-state map)
When did you first realize you needed a space heater?
Last October when the weather turned unexpectedly chilly and the heat in the dorms had not yet been turned on.

Where were you when you realized the need for the heater?
I was in a classmate’s dorm room and noticed his heater was on and the room was comfortably warm.  I was struck by how quiet the heater was, as well as its clean and simple design…I thought that this heater would look good in my dorm room.

Step - 2 -  Emotions / Awareness
Did you ask anyone else about their experience with this product / transaction (in person / social media / online reviews)?  Describe this conversation…online / in person…what was the tone of the person(s) you were speaking with?
Yes, I asked my classmate how he liked the heater.  He’d had it for about a year, and said he couldn't be happier.  He particularly liked how it was quiet enough to not be a distraction while studying.  He also mentioned that prior to this heater, he had another brand for short time and returned it because, not only was it noisy, but it was also being recalled because of wiring problem that led to the units catching fire.  I remember reading about how some of those fires occurred in dorm rooms, so I immediately thought about the importance of safety in buying a space heater.

Step 3 - Building the Consideration Set
Tell me about how you went about looking for a space heater.
About a week after talking to my classmate,  I was taking a break from studying and browsing through some websites on my tablet.  I always make it a point to check my weather app…the forecast was for below normal temps over the next week, so it triggered a thought about the space heater.

What did you do next?
I Googled “space heater” and saw an ad from the hardware store on Main Street promoting a sale on a model I wasn’t familiar with.  I searched for this model on Google and then went directly to a link from Amazon.  I like Amazon because it typically has lots of reviews for all of their products.  I tend to trust reviews, especially if there’s a lot of them.  In my mind user reviews are credible because people take the time to convey their actual experiences with a product.  The reviews for the heater from the ad were a bit on the negative side…Amazon always displays comparable products, and that’s where I came across an image of the heater that I had seen in my classmate’s room.  So, I clicked on this model and immediately went to the reviews…they were almost all overwhelmingly positive.

Step 4 - The Purchase / Journey
How did you purchase / undertake the transaction process?

After seeing the model on Amazon, I went to the manufacturer’s  website to look for the location of a retailer close to campus.  I noted an address for a hardware store a few blocks from the dorm, entered on my phone, and decided to go there the next day.  When I arrived at the hardware store, I located the heaters in boxes loaded on a pallet in an aisle.  There were several dozen boxes, not very well organized, with some of them damaged a bit.  That left a bad impression as I wondered whether the store’s carelessness might have damaged the heaters.  I remembered the positive online reviews, so notwithstanding the lousy display, decided to go ahead and purchase one.  I picked a box from the top of the stack that wasn’t damaged, and went to the cashier.  Interestingly, while walking through the store, I noticed that other products were more neatly arranged and some included stands with promotional brochures or monitors running videos of the product.  This impressed me because not only were the sales materials informative, but it also showed that the company cared about how their product is displayed.

Tell me more…why is the display so important to you?
I suppose because it gives me a bit of peace-of-mind knowing that the company cares about how the product is presented…it would seem that they would also care about the quality of their product

Step 5 - Post Transaction / Journey
What happened when you got back to the dorm with your heater?
It was a cold day, so I took out of the box right away and glanced at the instructions.  The heater comes with a filter that I had to install…that was easy, and it was the only set up required.  The instructions were brief and easy to understand, but I couldn’t help notice that the font is really small and bit difficult to read.

Did you begin using the heater right away?
Yes, and almost immediately, I noticed an odd smell…at first I thought the heater might be catching fire, but didn’t see any smoke or flames.  I waited about 20 minutes, and the smell still lingered.  I read through the instructions again, but they weren’t of any help.  I was a bit concerned, so I called the 800 customer service number printed on the instructions.  The service rep came on right away, and proceeded to explain that the smell is normal as it’s associated with the break-in of the new filter.  I felt better after that, but was a bit annoyed that I had to call the service number so quickly.

Did you do anything else after that?
The heater is a bit on the pricey side, so I decided to submit the warranty info. right away while it was still on my mind.  I found the warranty card in the box and filled it out.  Again, the printing on the card is a bit small and the spaces provided for writing in my name and address aren’t very large.  I also was a bit annoyed that I now had to remember to find a mail box to send the card.

In the next post, we’ll use the information from this interview to begin designing a future state purchase experience for our space heater.