We’ve all grown up trying to figure out the answer to the age-old question of “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  Whether you know the answer or not (I don’t), the question has great value in thinking about how you will create positive, meaningful customer experiences and also how you will go about designing your first survey instruments.

Lets briefly address my second point first.  In August 2009, I wrote a guest blog for Vovici titled “Jumping into the Pool before You Know the Water Depth”.  In that post, I talked about identifying the most important customer touch-points before starting to craft a survey instrument to use as part of a continuous customer feedback collection process.  The information in the post is still on target, although the way to determine importance should change – continue reading.

When it comes to actually designing your customer’s experiences, (and you should design instead of just letting things randomly happen), there are two factors that need to be considered:

  1. The journeys your customers will take as they interact with your business.
  2. The stops on each journey – touch-points or, as Jan Carlzon called them in his 1987 book of the same name “Moments of Truth”.

Unfortunately, most people approached this challenge by focusing on touch-points since that is an easier concept to wrap our heads around.

When we think about customer journeys, we have to first think about why people interact with your business.  This is important because some interactions, i.e., journeys, result from something going wrong.  For example, we call technical support because our product doesn’t work or we can’t make it work because the manual is crap.  These journeys should be eliminated or, more realistically, minimized.

There are also many journeys that are very important and which you do not want to eliminate or minimize.  Here are a few examples:

  • Get product information before making a purchasing decision
  • Place an order
  • Call for support
  • Question an invoice
  • Check on a back-order
  • Make a payment

This partial list does not include all the high-level reasons for interacting with your business.

In most cases, there are multiple “channels” for the interaction.  For example, consider many of the ways prospects obtain pre-sales information from your business:

  • View the company website using either a computer or a mobile device
  • Order information on-line [your web site or an advertisement (pop-up or Google Ad)]
  • Call inside sales for preliminary information
  • Talk with company representatives at a trade show
  • Meet with a salesperson in the prospect’s office
  • Attend a demo at your location or one of their your customers
  • Talk to your customers (before getting your approved references

I am sure that you will add to this list with minimal effort.

How does someone start this design process?  I think the best way is to do two things in parallel:

  1. Identify the touch-points that are obviously broken and appear to have high volume of interactions and fix them.
  2. Identify all your prospect’s and customer’s journeys, by engaging key people throughout your business.  This will give you an intuitive listing that will no doubt include 95% of all choices.
  3. Then, follow this path:
  • Make a matrix of each unique journey, its importance, and each unique touch-point.
  • Identify those touch-points that occur in multiple journeys.
  • Based on number or interactions and importance of each journey where they occur, create a priority list identifying the most important touch-points.
  • Impartially, evaluate the quality of the experience your prospects and customers feel at each touch-point, using a simple green (great), yellow (ok), red (OMG!) scale.
  • Combine the lists created in c. and d. to come up with one, prioritized list of touch-points.
  • Do a quick survey of customers and prospects to establish a quantified benchmark about how good or bad these touch-point experiences really are.
  • Divide the list by owners and go to work.
  • Set review schedules to make sure people are staying on track.
  • As touch-points are updates, again collect feedback to ensure that the efforts have produced real benefits to their intended audience.
  • Share the feedback and either rework if necessary or move on to the next on the list.
  • Share the results with customers and employees.
  • Make sure to celebrate successes!

As you can imagine, attacking touch-point experience is straightforward but can result in a lot of activity with no gain if the wrong areas are given the highest priority.  This is not only a major waste of time but can also derail a good CX program because a large input of scarce resources did not improve any significant business outcome. In other words: