Many organisations claim to be customer-focused, but how do you know if it is fake, wishful thinking or real? One way is to review customer feedback to look for patterns and trends. Looking at the full spectrum of input from complaints to praise and suggestions for improvement can be revealing. Customer focus groups or feedback surveys can also be helpful. The key being to ask insightful questions. A useful challenge when formulating customer experience questions is 'what will we do with the answers?' This query will promote more profound thought about the purpose of the questions and nature of the survey. It also encourages a strategic approach by pausing to consider action beyond receiving the responses.
Another method is to gain first-hand experience by becoming a customer, then viewing the organisation and what it offers through this lens. Some organisations achieve this by employing mystery shoppers who pose a genuine customer while assessing the service received as well as the products provided. When combined, these approaches can be beneficial as long as something practical happens as a result of obtaining the data. Nobody wins if all this effort results in just another report item at the next management meeting and no action.
It helps to purposefully take a step back and look at the customer journey afresh. Here is a team-based exercise that can help the process of identifying issues as well as new opportunities to improve the customer experience.
Take an hour to run a customer-experience workshop with your team. Make sure to circulate in advance the information gathered from customer feedback, mystery shopping plus anything else of relevance.
Pair up or work in quads to considers the questions below. Spend 20 minutes and write up the observations and ideas generated:
- Do we understand all the stages of the customer journey from the client's point of view? If not, how can we achieve this?
- Do we know the problems customers might experience at each stage? If not, how can we find out?
- How has the customer journey positively or negatively affected the reputation of our brand?
- What's the evidence to support these perceptions?
- In what ways might we achieve better outcomes for customers?
Review as a team and share your ideas. Take up to 10 minutes and decide upon which ones to focus. Now take 15 minutes to consider the following questions:
- Are there opportunities to change the stages of the customer journey to make the experience better? For example, add stages, skip stages, combine stages in one step?
- What will this take? For example, resources, time, people.
- What might be the barriers to change? How can we mitigate or remove these?
- What are the enablers of change? How can we activate and encourage these?
Finally, spend the next 15 minutes to agree upon the action that will result from this exercise. Focus on 3-5 so that it doesn't become overwhelming.
Be specific about what will be done by when and who is responsible for making this happen.
Conclude this exercise by going around the table to ask 'what is the one thing that you can personally do to push forward improvements to the customer journey?'
Capture the commitments made and finish the session knowing that you have actionable outcomes at a team as well as personal level.