Where’s the magical customer experience button?

What is customer experience?

I recently met up with a marketing agency where we discussed the customer experience.

We both agreed this was the vision and the thing we needed to achieve however when we then went into more detail it became apparent we had a different idea of what the customer experience was.

I wanted to know what we would be creating. A new process, a newly design online experience or new messaging?

The answer that came back was, we are going to create the “best customer experience”.

It became apparent to me there was an expectation that the technology was going to magically deliver the best customer experience without really defining what the customer experience was.

I come across this a lot and often find it amusing that the customer experience is seen as this magic “thing” which can be switched on. From here it is assumed the experience is now officially on, without trying to understand the customer problem we are trying to solve.

Defining the customer experience

Back in 2010 Harley Manning defined the customer experience as:

“How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

I like to think of customer experience as “how customers solve their needs and remember their experience.”

This could be a good or a bad experience but obviously it is the former, which we want to get customers to remember.

To show the elements of a customer experience Marie Cheung created this example map showing all of the elements that might go into mapping out the customer experience.

The customer experience pyramid

Forrester Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine also created the customer experience pyramid that clearly lays out the key elements of the customer experience.

customer experience

customer experience from Forrester

I have adapted this and looked at bringing this to life in a simple example.

customer experience

In this example I will look at an everyday service I know I cannot live without, my mobile phone service.

Step 1 is all about the service.

I wouldn’t pay for a useless service. Nearly all companies meet these needs although arguably some don’t and see a lot of customer’s leave where the service is poor. However in this example, when something goes wrong I want it resolved as quickly as possible this is when the service is not useful.

Step 2 is about the amount of effort I have to put in.

A lot of companies stumble at this stage and make things hard for us customers. For example how many times have you had poor phone reception or not sure how much data you have left on your phone. You go online and have forgotten your login details, but cannot find any outage information. You then ring the call centre and get passed around to a couple of different people who ask you for the same personal details, not exactly an easy experience.

Step 3 is making it something I will go on and use again because the service was not only easy but actually stuck with me.

Very few organisations achieve this. Just think of the number of organisations you have used who have made an impression on. Sure the service is a given. Making dealing with the organisation an easy task is very challenging but trying to stand out in a crowd is a huge challenge.

Who is doing it well today?

One of the most memorable, yet quite simple experiences is Amazon’s one click ordering service. Not something I even really think about as an incredible service, but when you consider what is going on behind the scenes to make sure they know who you are and pass the order information in just one click it is very impressive.

Just consider the experience of ringing your bank to extend the overdraft by £500 and then you’ll realise why the Amazon experience is so great.

The second well-known example is Uber. I can order transport, from the warmth of a bar, be alerted when I need to go outside into the rain, get into the car and get out at the other end without having to take out my credit card or hunt for the cash I never have on me.

Yeah, yeah, everyone talks about these examples but here is my personal favourite?

I have used a service from Citymapper which I use when I am travelling around London and not cycling. It helps people navigate around some of the busiest and complex cities around the world.

First things first it exceeds my expectations on many fronts. In the example below I am looking to travel from London Waterloo to Paddington.

customer experience

The search results present me with all of the transport options available. Firstly this gives me a choice for cost but more importantly time.

I can then click to get more details on each of the options. I click on the 17 minute option via the tube.

I then get a more detailed breakdown of the route, what line I need to take and more importantly when the next underground train is leaving.

customer experience

As an alternative I also looked at bus routes. However I struggle with buses as I never know the numbers or the where the bus stop is I need to take.

customer experience

Here I not only get a break down of the number of the bus to take, but also how many stops I need to stay on the bus for, how long it will take to walk to the bus stop, when the next bus is and directions to the bus stop.

customer experience

This is a great customer experience. It exceed my expectations and gives me more information than I thought was available but also makes it very easy for me to achieve my goal, albeit very simple, of getting from A to B in the shortest time possible.

Summary – my customer experience

For me the customer experience needs the following ingredients:

  1. An understanding of the problem or task the customer is trying to solve
  2. A method or process by which we can help the customer solve that problem, which is easier than the current method
  3. Content and messaging which helps the customer achieve their goal
  4. The technology to enable the experience and ensure we can deliver this for many customers in a timely manner.

At Crank, we firmly believe this is a process, which is continually moving.
You need to be able to measure the effect of the customer experience overtime and optimise the parts of the journey that is under performing. Then and only then are you able to offer the best customer experience, which works for both the organisation and the customer.

What is your definition of a good customer experience and whom do you admire out there?

Ben Salmon

Author Ben Salmon

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