In a more competitive world than ever before and ubiquitous communication modalities, companies are continuing to fall short on the customer’s experience and customers are increasingly frustrated.
I’m sure we have all had that frustrating call with customer service representative, usually following that lovely IVR with 900 menu prompts only to come away with the feeling that we wasted our time and energy. So why don’t companies get it? The problem is they are not addressing one or a combination of these three areas: their understanding, their focus and or their approach.
Companies don’t have a holistic understanding of what defines customer experience and it’s not embedded holistically in their organizational culture so that it’s used throughout. The understanding and definition of “experience” – as defined by multiple dictionaries is “the state of having been affected by an observation and or perception of an event”. As such, companies seem to be failing to incorporate measures for the emotional states their customers associate toward the experience, not just the functional (meeting their needs) or accessible (ease) aspects. What we found is that companies are inadequately incorporating affective science into their evaluations. Affective science is the study of the biological, psychological and social dimensions into what they are measuring.
Companies are still trying to use outcome-based measures instead of input measures as a basis for understanding. While measuring things like ACR, NPS, FCR, Talk Time, Abandon Rate, Error Rate, Transfer Rates, and even Customer Satisfaction are great metrics to have – they are ALL outcome measures, not input measures.
Companies cannot solve for “experience” until they change their approach process using behavioral-based science measures versus mathematical based science measures. Most companies are looking at the “numbers” only to make up a story that supports them versus changing the story to see what the numbers reveal.
Companies seemingly are looking for a mathematical linear equation to solve the experience but the equation involves non-linear perception and emotion. A customers’ experience is not a number, it is a feeling that is transacted through a series of perceptions.
Companies are still designing for customers from their systems out, not from the customer back in.
First, let’s define what a positive customer experience looks like so we can understand the boundaries. A positive customer experience must affirm all 3 aspects of the experience:
- Functional – It must meet the customers’ needs
- Accessible – It must be perceived as easy to accomplish
- Emotional Connection – It must drive a positive feeling
Let’s think about this for a second. Have you ever had an experience where you got through a series of interactions and got your need met but it just seemed ridiculously hard? What was your feeling? Probably not very good. Have you ever had the experience where it was really easy but didn’t provide any value? Feeling of neutrality at best.
Psychology and Human Behavior tell us that our perception and meaning can be vastly different from individual to individual, especially through linguistic interpretation. However, there is a more common and central element that has been proven through human response testing over and over and that is how we deliver the message. In other words, it has proven to be more in common with the same outcome of response. By combining the right words with the right delivery at the right time, we have a higher likelihood of provoking a more common emotional response – i.e. “experience”. Seems simple right? So, what’s the measure of knowing that you have the right emotional response and that you have the right words with the right delivery at the right time? It’s not FCR or talk-time or anything mathematical. It’s a perception measure of feeling. The feeling (emotion) the customer has is what provokes behavior and causes the effect on FCR, Customer Satisfaction, Abandon Rate, Transfer Rates, etc.
We have defined the proper input measures of “experience” and how to use them so companies could be more purposeful about the experiences they are intending to create with their customers.
There are five INPUT measures (behavioral expressions) to every experience that must be demonstrated in some capacity for every interaction. Below are those five, the defined framing for each and the targeted translation perceptions:
Transparency – A state of being whereas, enough of the right communication is delivered (verbal, non-verbal or written) which creates the perception (i.e. feeling) of Trust
Engagement – The act and or mechanics of communication that involve two parties positively interlocking toward the achievement of the same outcome which created the feeling of Teamwork
Centricity – The act of meeting another’s needs or desires through communication that creates the perception of different, special or “just for me”, feeling of Personalization
Support – A state of being where the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another are considered AND supported through communication creating the feeling of Empathy
Service – The act of supplying information while aiding another that is complete, specific within an appropriate timescale creating the feeling of the end recipient as Knowledgeable & Responsive
Expression = Perception:
Transparency = Trust
Engagement = Teamwork
Centricity = Personalization
Support = Empathy
Service = Knowledgeable and Responsive
Think back to the last interaction you had that was really great with a company and put any measure you want to these five expressions above. How did it score? Now, do the same with a bad experience and see how the score differs.
So, you may be asking yourself right now… How do I measure that???
The answer is pretty simple… just about any way you like. Often, I tell companies, use a scale from 1-5 or a seven-point scale from -3 to +3 or you can even use a smiley face, straight face, frown face measure. These are perceptions and feelings so they are not going to be exact and you don’t have to worry about them being exact. You don’t have to be a clinical psychologist to be a practical one. If the feeling you have with the interaction feels “off” then its because it is!
The goal you are after is for them to be directionally correct with more of the population and constantly iterate and test for constant improvement. As a word of wisdom, however, you will want to use a collaborative approach to your ideas and changes to produce faster results. Utilizing one person’s view of the world is never recommended to produce optimal outcomes here, even with a so-called “expert”!
So, what determines how much of these you architect in an interaction? This is determined by the current or perceived definition of the relationship. Here’s what this means. If you know a customer is calling your organization because they are having a problem with service, you may want to architect an interaction that has higher expressions of Support, Service, and Transparency. In other words, for this interaction to be a successful experience, the customer would have to “feel” the help they received was knowledgeable, responsive, empathetic, and trusted. If you can do that through automation then go for it but if not, you may need to use a different modality of interaction to accomplish the feeling you want the customer to take away.
If you can imagine the state of your customer before you interact with them, you should be able to design an interaction with more appropriate levels of expressed behavior.
We already do this as human beings with each other daily, naturally. When we anticipate how a friend, family member or spouse might react, we will in most cases approach them with that outcome in mind and therefore adjust our words, delivery or timing. By designing from the customer’s intent backward, you are in a much better position to produce a highly positive experience. If you keep designing a path for your customers on how to deal with you, your systems or your company, you will continue to miss experience and lose in the competitive game in the long run.
4 keys to success:
Design from the customer back into your organization, not your organization to the customer.
Begin to evaluate and measure the five expressions in your interactions with your customers and THEN correlate the effect the change made on your outcome measures like first call resolution, abandon rate, transfer rate, customer satisfaction, etc.
Solicit feedback and ideas from multiple sources to gauge your designs and changes.
Embed and train these measures throughout your organization.
For your customers to experience a different and more positive experience with your organization, begins with the ability to look at things differently – from the outside in and then change what you are doing from the inside out!
If your company is interested in learning more about the effectiveness of this approach or would like more information, please contact the io Group today. We would love to help!
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