Friday, August 14, 2015

Customer Experience Strategy - Audit: Part 1

Over the next extended series of posts, we’ll layout in detail an approach for developing a customer experience strategy.  CX spans the organization and touches on numerous front and back-end functions, so the customer experience strategy must align with the company’s business, brand, and product / service objectives.  We’ll begin our strategy development by conducting an audit of the various facets that will comprise the overall CX plan.  We’ll then turn our attention to the strategy framework itself including a detailed discussion of each of its key components.  

A thorough understating of the current situation is the critical “must-have” initial step in developing a CX strategy, and the best way to do this is by conducting a comprehensive audit.  Recall from some of the earlier posts that our new CX manager undertook a bit of a mini-audit as part of her first few days on the job.  Hopefully, this gave her an initial perspective on the state of the company’s CX activities before undertaking some initial quick-win activities.  It’s now time to turn to a more detailed audit in order to gain a deep understanding on where things stand.  

An audit can be completed in one of two ways: directly by the CX manager and her staff, or by retaining a third-party.  For an audit to be worthwhile, it must be impartial and fact-based…for this reason, completion by a third-party, particularly in the case of large organizations, may be a worthwhile investment (just be mindful that the auditor’s objectivity may be compromised in the hopes of subsequently acquiring new business). On the other hand, in a smaller organization and / or in the case of a newly hired CX manager who likely won’t be biased by a history with the company, it may make sense for the audit to be completed directly by the CX team.

Regardless of the choice of auditor, what follows over the next couple of posts is a basic template for completing a CX audit…the template is not intended to be all-encompassing, but should serve to provide an understanding of those critical items that should be assessed.  
  1. The Corporate Strategy
  • What are the organization’s goals, and what is the linkage with customer experience?  For example, if customer acquisition is an objective, from a CX standpoint, is there a well-defined and executed sales process?  Does the process address the needs (job-to-done) of the prospect?  Similarly, if customer retention and increasing the share-of-wallet, is there a retention process?  Along those lines, is there a voice-of-customer tool in place to capture feedback from those who defect?  
  • In the course of the audit, you’ll want to parse the corporate strategy to identify those (often financial) objectives that logically align with a corresponding customer experience, and then ask…is there a corresponding customer process in place?  If so, how is it performing?  If not, should this be included in the CX strategy, and what resources might be necessary to do so?

2) The Brand Strategy
  • What is the brand promise?  Are all facets of the existing customer experience in alignment with the promise (remember, CX needs to be in sync with the brand, and not the other way around)?
  • What emotions does the brand want to elicit from the customer?  According to Forrester Research, emotions have a disproportionately large role in contributing to a customer’s satisfaction with their experience (1).  In the audit, ask…are we capturing customer emotions as part of our VOC?  If not, consider how this can be included in the CX strategy.
3) Customer Understanding
  • Ongoing feedback from customers is at the heart of customer experience, and therefore, this is a particularly important component of a CX audit.  Customer satisfaction data was briefly touched on in an earlier post…let’s now focus more closely on more fully understanding what you should be looking for to ensure that your CX initiative has the vital customer feedback needed to be successful.  
  • Qualitative Feedback…look for the following:
  • Focus group reports discussing customer experience questions
  • Journey mapping workshops with clients
  • One-on-one interviews with customers
  • Text analytics, primarily from the organization’s social media channels.  Results from text analytics are particularly insightful because customer comments, phrases and words are captured in their authentic setting (i.e. not in a more controlled research environment where customers are prone to self-editing).
  • Open-ended comments from surveys.  Perhaps most noteworthy here is to determine whether the company asks the Net Promoter question, “How likely are you to recommend____ to family and friends?”  Customers are asked to rate their likelihood to recommend using a 0 to 10 scale, but what’s arguably most important here is whether the key open-ended follow up question is asked…”why did you rate your likelihood a ___?”  Responses properly coded by the NPS segments of Promoter (9-10), Passive (7-8) and Detractor (0-6) are a potential CX goldmine for better understanding what pleases and dissatisfies your customers.
  • Quantitative Feedback…some items to include in an audit:
  • Is there a transactional survey in place?
  • Does the company execute a relationship survey, or do existing surveys ask relationship questions?
  • Do these surveys capture trends over time?
  • Other Sources of Customer Understanding…
  • Is the company’s customer base segmented?  There are numerous methods to segment customers, and two that are of particular value for CX are attitudinal and by customer value.  This is because you may want to consider designing different experiences based on how your customers feel (attitudinal) about particular products or services, or offering a different experience to the company’s most valuable customers (value).

In the next post, we’ll conclude this discussion by looking at a few additional items to include in a CX audit.