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Deconstructing the Customer Experience: What's in Your Toolkit?

Posted by Jennifer von Briesen on Wed, Sep 25, 2013

Disassembled rubix 1More and more companies are focusing on trying to better understand and improve their customers’ experiences. Some want to become more customer-centric. Some see this as an effective path to competitive differentiation. While others, challenging traditional assumptions (e.g., Experience Co-creation, originated by my former boss, Francis Gouillart, and his colleagues Prof. Venkat Ramaswamy and the late C.K. Prahalad), are applying new strategic thinking about value creation. Decision-makers in these firms are starting to recognize that every single interaction and experience a customer has with the company (and its ecosystem partners) may either build or destroy customer value and loyalty over time.

While companies traditionally measure customer value based on revenues, share of wallet, cost to serve, retention, NPS, profitability, lifetime value etc., we now have more and better tools for deconstructing the customer experience and understanding the components driving customer and company interaction value at the activity/experience level. To really understand the value drivers in the customer experience, firms need to simultaneously look holistically, go deep in a few key focus areas, and use a multi-method approach.

Here’s an arsenal of tools and methods that are great to have in your toolkit for building customer experience insight:

Qualitative tools

  • Journey mapping methods and tools

  • In-the-moment, customer activity-based tools

    • Voice capture exercises (either using mobile phones or landlines) where customers can call in and answer a set of questions related to whatever they are doing in the moment.

    • Use mobile devices and online platforms to upload visuals, audio and/or video to answer questions, (e.g., as you are filling out your enrollment paperwork, take a moment to take a quick—less than 10 second video, to share your thoughts on what you are experiencing).

  • Customer diaries

    • E.g., use mobile devices as a visual diary or to complete a number of activities

  • Observation tools

    • Live or virtual tools (e.g., watch/videotape in-person or online experiences, either live or after the fact)

    • On-site customer visits: companies I’ve worked with often like to join customers doing activities in their own environments and situational contexts. Beyond basic observation, company employees can dialogue with customers during the activities/experiences to gain immediate feedback and richer understanding.

  • Interviews and qualitative surveys

  • Online discussion boards

  • Online or in-person focus groups

Quantitative tools

  • Quantitative surveys/research tools (too many to list in a blog post)

  • Internal tracking tools

    • Online tools for tracking behavior metrics (e.g., landing pages/clicks/page views/time on pages, etc.) for key interactions/experience stages. This enables ongoing data-mining, research and analysis.

    • Service/support data analysis (e.g., analyze call center data on inbound calls and online support queries for interaction types, stages, periods, etc. to look for FAQs, problems, etc.).

What tools are you using to better understand and improve the customer experience? What tools are in your toolkit?  Are you taking advantage of all the new tools available?

Jennifer is a Director at  South Street Strategy Group. She recently received the 2013 “Member of the Year” award by the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP), the preeminent professional association for those engaged in strategic thinking, planning and action.

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, methodology, qualitative research, quantitative research, customer experience and loyalty