Making deliberate efforts to improve the customer experience can require significant investments. So how do you decide on which customer experience investments to make?
It begins by understanding the existing customer experience for a defined group of customers and asking the following questions:
1. What does the customer journey for purchasing our products look like? In other words where do customers generally begin to investigate solutions for the problems we solve? What process do they go through and where does it end?
For example: I really need a new TV so I begin my search online, I look at manufacturer’s websites, I look at Amazon to get ratings on different models and I may go down to Best Buy to take a look in person. I may chat with friends, ask questions on forums and read professional reviews. This is the search phase.
Once I have decided on the product, I need to decide how to purchase it. In today’s world I have a myriad of options, multiple retailers both in store and online. This is the purchasing phase.
When I make my purchase the product is then delivered and I can ether set it up or have it installed. This is the installation/setup phase.
Once I have the product up and running I can watch TV and hopefully it meets my expectations on the things important to me when I made the purchase decision. This is the usage phase.
If all goes well no problem, but if there is a technical problem with the TV what then? This is a real test for the supplier, how will they respond to a technical issue, how will I be treated. This is the product failure phase.
After a number of years I will feel a urge to upgrade or add another TV and the cycle begins again. This is the disposal and repurchase phase.
2. What are the most important interaction points we have with these customers? In other words where do we have the most influence?
By examining these interaction points we can evaluate how we perform versus our competitors. For example in the search phase above we need to understand which factors have the largest influence on our customer’s purchase decisions? How important is the brand, how about word of mouth, magazine reviews, our website etc.
Once we understand the levers we need to understand how we are performing on those levers. Are we perceived as a stronger brand? Do we offer more ways to purchase? Is our website clearer and easier to use?
Making the investment decision:
Once we have a clear picture of how customers buy, what influences them and how we perform on those factors we can make a more informed decision by asking the questions:
1. Are we losing business because we are not performing well in some element of the search phase?
2. Is there an opportunity to differentiate ourselves in a meaningful way during the search phase?
This process can be applied to each part of the customer’s journey. Some investments need to be made to keep up with the competition, whereas others will be opportunities to create a differential advantage.
All of these decisions will ultimately be made in the context of the organization’s overall vision, mission and strategy. In other words price leaders will generally only be interested in keeping up with the basic expectations of customers when it comes to the overall experience. As their customers want the lowest price they don’t expect much more. Companies with a product leadership strategy will be looking to provide high level experiences that complement their premium quality, innovative products.
How are you deciding on what customer experience investments to make?