Customer experience trumps tech
When many organisations begin new programmes of digital change, the impetus is often commercial – increasing revenue or cutting costs.
Those outcomes are important and completely valid. All too often the needs of the end users of those digital products, be they customers, partners or staff, are assigned a lower priority than the commercial benefits. A shiny new online product or experience usually results in much internal back-slapping and congratulatory message. But if the customers haven’t been put front and centre of the initiative, that excitement can tarnish pretty quickly as the anticipated results fail to materialise.
Customer experience, or CX, is the view that an organisation’s customers have of the business or brand. CX is holistic – it’s the net result of all customer interactions, both online and offline. Research has shown time and again that satisfied customers are loyal, bring repeat custom and can even become advocates for a brand or company.
With that lens, here are my recommendations for making sure the customer experience is at the heart of your next digital initiative.
1. Do your research. Create a detailed profile of your customer base. I’m a digital advocate but I prefer traditional research methods over social media analysis because it surfaces far more detailed information. Tap into internal customer feedback loops to understand pain points and opportunities. Send your project sponsor and execs to the front line to interact with customers. Conduct detailed quantitative research with target customer segments or place surveys onto your website with specific questions. Analyse the results of all these efforts and use the insights to inform the scope of your project
2. Turn project sponsors into customer advocates. Share the key insights from your research with the project sponsor and executive team to demonstrate the opportunity to address gaps in customer experience. Illustrate this holistically by including offline customer experiences and, if possible, quantify the CX benefits to a commercial upside. You can also use these insights to communicate with employees and turn them into advocates for the project, too.
3. Keep the conversation going. Test prototypes with customers while the digital project is being developed. This is a key principle of Agile development but should be injected into other delivery models, too. Testing prototypes with customers validates the approach throughout the development cycle and will ensure the end product delivers the CX opportunities identified in the research stage.
4. The end is just the beginning. Launching a new digital project is fun and exciting. But the real work begins when the product goes live. Analysing its performance and, yes, more customer research, will inform the ongoing roadmap for maintaining and enhancing the product.