I had the pleasure of attending Harley Manning’s Customer Experience Ecosystem master class a couple of weeks ago, which was organised by the IDM. He started the session by telling a story about Zion National Park, Utah, US where there were no butterflies present, which left people and scientists wondering why. Basically numerous visiting tourists had scared off the cougars, which in turn enabled the deer to flourish with no natural predator. The deer then ate the entire vegetation, which affected the ecosystem and resulted in the butterflies no longer being present. So, how does this fit into a master class on Customer Journey? Well, without analysing your customer journey you’ll never know whether your sales journey is truly flourishing or whether areas within the process are becoming extinct.
Enter the Customer Experience Pyramid
This classical customer experience journey of discovery, evaluate, buy, access, use, get support then either leave or reengage simplifies what happens during the buying process and can be attributed to either a B2C or B2B buying cycle.
If something happens within this cycle then the ecosystem can become unbalanced and customers will leave just as the cougars did at Zion National Park. How many of us really know our most important customer buying cycles? We often don’t hear about a broken buying ecosystem until we lose an important customer and then investigate what went wrong. Today’s ecosystems are extremely complex and involve mapping across multiple channels and different departments within an organisation and can take a considerable amount of time, resource and budget to map out. However, mapping the customer experience ecosystem can not only help improve customer satisfaction rates, but also profit and ultimately the value of your organisation.
Charter Communications Customer Experience Example
To demonstrate this Harley shared insight from John Birrer, Senior VP Customer Experience at Charter Communications. When he started at Charter Communications John needed to solve the poor experience of buying software. Customer service had no solution to this ongoing issue, so John conducted a customer touch point analysis and remapped the customer journey. As each department owned only a small part of the customer journey and with sales and marketing targets achieved, it wasn’t until customer services reported a huge dissatisfaction that this highlighted the ecosystem wasn’t working. Basically from his customer buying cycle analysis he identified that there wasn’t anything wrong with the product or service offering, but it was basically down to one business process which broke the ecosystem. On reflection, the business process was meant to protect the business from any legal actions, but in fact it drove up customer dissatisfaction, which broke the customer experience.
The learnings we can take from this is it is essential that organisations map their customer journeys including what can and can’t be seen by the customer. Organisational policies and procedures can damage the customer experience and ultimately the profitability of an organisation. Most organisations often think that there is nothing wrong until they start to investigate the experience of a customer. This analysis usually identifies the policies and procedures that are failing the organisation rather than a particular product or service.
Finally, Harley finished off the session by highlighting that customers reward good experience and so does the market. Top performing businesses on the stock market have great customer experiences that have transformed the business. He then closed with a mantra we should all remember: “I need my customer more then they need me”. In these times of change and competition, we must know our customers and offer excellent value-add customer journeys. Have you mapped your customer experience ecosystem? If not, why not?
(For more on the Forrester view on the importance of a customer experience strategy, view Harley Manning’s 2012 IDM Annual Lecture, delivered in London on 8 November 2012: video and presentations.)