Making It Work. Create a Consistent Customer Experience
Making It Work. Create a Consistent Customer Experience
Executive Summary Your brand is a promise—a promise to your customers and the marketplace. It’s a promise that must be kept; delivered consistently day in and day out. The customer experience is the fulfillment of that promise. Customers encounter your brand in numerous ways; products, packaging, price, advertising & marketing, sales & customer service personnel, etc. Each of these contacts or touchpoints molds the customer’s overall ongoing impression of the brand. Your customer experience ultimately defines you. It should be carefully planned and controlled. It must reinforce your brand and the image you wish create. Learn how to define and implement a consistent customer experience by: • Starting with the brand promise and creating the reasons-to-believe. • Identifying the customer touchpoints and determining which are most influential. • Defining the optimal experience and aligning the organization to deliver it. By controlling your customer experience you can ensure the promise you make to the marketplace will be kept day in and day out across every key customer touchpoint.
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Start with Your Go-To-Market Strategy Customer experience design begins with an understanding of your overarching go-tomarket strategy. It should define who you are, how you operate, and how you are different from others in the marketplace. Your go-to-market strategy specifies your intent. In essence it’s a promise – a promise made to the marketplace. That’s why go-to-market strategy is often referred to as a brand promise. Whether you promise to provide superior customer service, top-shelf products, or the lowest prices, you are creating a pledge in the marketplace, a pledge that creates expectations in the minds of your customers. Your customers’ actual experience doing business with your organization determines if that pledge, your brand promise has been fulfilled. Thus the customer experience must embody the promise—it’s the ultimate test of your strategy’s successful execution in the marketplace.
Create Reasons-to-Believe Your brand promise is irrelevant if your customer doesn’t believe it. Therefore, your promise must be supported by its reasons-to-believe. Some call these brand pillars. The brand pillars give substance to the promise and define specific expectations for the customer. For example, Volvo promises to “protect my family.” How is Volvo going to protect my family? What makes their cars safer than others? Why should I believe this promise? Volvo supports its brand promise with three brand pillars: • Safety Innovation • Vehicle Durability • Luxury Design These brand pillars put definition around the promise and give the customer reasons to believe the promise will be fulfilled. It gives the company specific direction for designing the desired customer experience through tangible customer touchpoints like vehicle design features, customer service activities, finance programs, advertising campaigns, dealer sales approaches, and dealer showroom design/layout.
Keep the Promise – The Customer Experience If the brand is a promise you make, then the customer experience is the fulfillment of that promise. Customers encounter your brand in numerous ways: products, packaging, price, advertising and marketing, sales and customer service personnel, etc. Each of these contacts or touchpoints molds the customer’s impression of the brand. Some of these touchpoints are obvious, like product performance, advertising, and sales staff. Other touchpoints, like the product manual, store lighting, or post-sales support, may be more subtle in their brand affects. There are four basic elements to designing and implementing a customer experience that supports the brand promise: • • • •
Identify ALL customer touchpoints Determine the most influential touchpoints Define the optimal experience at each of the key touchpoints Align the organization to consistently deliver that optimal experience
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Identify the Customer Touchpoints Each step of your business process contains a number of touchpoints – moments when the customer comes in contact with your organization. The overall customer experience is the summation of all the direct and indirect interactions the customer has with the company. The ultimate goal is to have each touchpoint reinforce and fulfill your marketplace promise. Walk through your commercial processes with key executives and individual departments. Using your basic understanding of the products and services you offer, ask questions like: • • • • • • •
How do you generate customer demand? How are sales inquiries fielded? How are products sold? How are products delivered? How are products used by the customer? How is after-sales support provided? How are customers retained?
This comprehensive trace of your marketing, selling, and servicing processes allows you to create a simple map of the touchpoints that define your customer’s experience with your brand. For TD Canada Trust, the various sub-processes that make up the mortgage loan process were clustered into three buckets: acquisition, servicing, and retention.
Onboarding & Servicing
Within each sub-process, the customer touchpoints were identified. For example, for the TD Canada Trust Application sub-process (at right), the touchpoints that ultimately defined the customer’s experience included the products offered, the selling channels, the loan documents, and post-application data requests.
Retention Internet Loan Officer
Application App Documents
Additional Data Requests
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Determine the Most Influential Touchpoints All touchpoints are not created equal. Some will naturally play a larger role in determining the overall customer experience. For example, if your product is ice cream, taste is typically more important than package design. Both are touchpoints, but each has a different effect on the experience as a whole. There are many ways to determine which touchpoints drive the overall experience. The method used often depends on the complexity of the products and/or commercial processes, your existing knowledge base, and the overall project budget. Methods cluster into three basic categories: 1) Quantitative: Includes survey instruments and covariate analyses of forceranked touchpoint pairs. (For example: Which is more important – a 0.25 point savings on a mortgage rate or a smooth closing? Which is more important – a smooth closing or a knowledgeable loan officer?) 2) Qualitative: Includes external focus groups and one-on-one interviews. 3) Inference: Includes analysis of existing research and institutional knowledge.
Define the Optimal Experience The optimal customer experience must be defined for each of the most influential touchpoints. To accomplish this, go back to the brand pillars. Use internal brainstorming groups, both functional and cross-functional, to identify how each pillar can be emphasized at each key touchpoint. The output is a simple matrix that ensures that the brand promise is designed into the customer experience at all high-impact touchpoints along the overall commercial process. The example below shows how Volvo might apply its three brand pillars to its major touchpoints. Marketing Marketing
Interior Interior Design Design
Exterior Exterior Design Design
Sales Sales Staff Staff
Individual & Safety Innovation Personal Design Sporty Vehicle Durability Performance Safety Luxury Design and Security
Align the organization to consistently deliver the optimal experience This final but crucial step begins with an assessment Internet of the current state of touchpoint alignment. Each Loan Officer touchpoint will deliver experiential elements that are in alignment with the newly defined optimal experience Product (green activities) and some that are out of sync with Line Application the optimal experience (red activities). Internal teams can determine the source of red activities and how to address them so that these components of the overall App Documents Additional experience can be brought into alignment. Data Requests
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As you strive for alignment, identify the people, processes, and tools that ultimately drive the touchpoint. “On stage” employees have direct contact with the customer. The effects of their actions are highly visible. However, the effects of “off stage” employees – those that do not have direct contact with the customer – are less obvious. Similarly, the impacts of work processes and tools (i.e. technology systems) on the customer experience are less intuitive. The TD Canada Trust example below illustrates this point. When the customer applies for a loan, he or she works directly with a loan officer. The loan officer collects the necessary information from the customer and loads it into the application system. Oftentimes that loan officer is supported by a processor. Both of these employees have direct customer contact and are therefore “on stage”. The Application Engine feeds the collected data to the Decision Engine used by the underwriter who must approve the loan. The underwriter does not work directly with the customer thus the underwriter is “off stage”. In this example there is a breakdown in communication between the two systems – the Application Engine and the Decision Engine. Some of the information that the underwriter receives is incorrect. The underwriter, using erroneous information, creates a list of stipulations that must be satisfied before the loan can be approved. The underwriter feeds these new requirements back up to the processor who goes back to the customer and requests additional documentation to satisfy the stipulations. The request for additional documentation falls outside TD Canada Trust’s optimal customer experience. It is driven by a broken system and a well-intentioned underwriter – both invisible to the customer. Yet the impact on the overall customer experience is very real. Customer Actions
Apply For Loan For Loan
Line of Interaction
Employee Actions (”On stage”)
Loan Loan Officer Officer
Loan Processor Officer
Line of Visibility
Employee Actions (”Off stage”)
Loan Underwriter Officer
Line of Internal Interaction
Support Processes and Tools
A Final Thought
Decision Loan Officer Engine
Application Application Engine Engine
Every product or service you bring to market yields a customer experience. Is it the experience you intended? Does that experience fulfill the promise you made to the marketplace? By working with your teams to identify the people, processes, and tools that drive your customer experience, IMPERATIVES can help you design and control your own, unique, optimal customer experience. The promise you make to the marketplace will be kept day in and day out across every key customer touchpoint. We invite you to visit www.imperativesllc.com or call us at (952) 591-8936. We can discuss your challenges and determine if IMPERATIVES may be of service.
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About IMPERATIVES (www.imperativesllc.com) Headquartered in Minneapolis, IMPERATIVES is a mid-size consulting firm that can take you from strategy development to marketplace implementation. We have deep experience in: • • • •
Identifying relevant consumer/customer/stakeholder insights Recasting those insights as opportunities Developing strong strategies/programs Crafting internal/external communications
Our practice links the disciplines of Marketing, Market Research, and Corporate Communications with General Management to integrate programming across your organization. We improve our clients’ success in the marketplace by helping them: • Develop achievable strategies that draw on their existing capabilities. • Use Strategy Activation to translate those strategies into specific plans, processes, roles and responsibilities that align the organization. • Drive successful marketplace implementation through our accomplished project managers and functional experts. For more information please feel free to call our Minneapolis office at 952.591.8936 or write to us at [email protected]
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