The pitfalls of customer experience design

Posted On by Fredric Joos

Customer experience design has been a hot topic for quite some time and by now most managers are convinced of its tremendous potential value. So far so good, but this is where things are getting interesting. Although methodologies are often straightforward, nicely presented and well documented, increasing customer experience is a lot harder than it seems.

Of all the companies that decide to invest in customer experience, just a shocking few succeed to convert invested time, effort and resources into tangible results. Not convinced? How many companies do you know who actually manage to incorporate the perspective of their customer into their own processes? My guess, not a whole lot… This automatically brings us to the WHY question: Why are companies failing, and why is it so hard to actually implement customer centricity? Based upon our experience, we identified 5 big pitfalls that can endanger the success of a customer experience project:

1. “Let’s increase the experience of our customers”

Let’s be honest: an increase or decrease in customer experience is not what keeps (most) managers up at night. It’s often seen as a “fluffy KPI” that is difficult to measure. A decrease in churn by 5% or an increase in sales by 3% however, those are KPI’s managers can relate to and actually care for. Succeeding in customer experience, therefore starts by translating the objectives into tangible KPI’s and visualizing the impact upon these KPI’s before the start of your project. Only by doing this will you create a necessity for customer experience design and an important buy-in from the entire management. Failing to do so will jeopardize the project even before it has started. Customer experience is not a belief, it is about hard measurable results that you need to visualize in order to keep the entire organization supporting the initiative.

2. “We know our business best”

We often see the same narrative returning. There’s a choice to invest in customer centricity, all departments are convinced of the added value until they want to include the feedback of customers. Suddenly not everyone is so convinced anymore: “Woa woa! Wait a second! Tell me again, why are we asking our customers what they think of us? Do we really need a ‘voice of the customer’ exercise? We know our organization best, let us decide what we should do. We can involve our customers later…”. I understand the reasoning, it’s a scary thing to open yourself to the unfiltered feedback of your customers, but these people fail to see two important facts:

  • Knowing your customer and his specific needs, is the start of every customer experience exercise. Only by listening to your customer and understanding his needs, will you be able to create unique experiences. Without this, companies are gambling in the dark on how to serve their customer. Just imagine how it would be to go to a hairdresser without him asking you what you want… Same thing, different level.

  • Customers like to be involved and be asked to give their opinion. If you involve your customers (without stalking them with long surveys) and show them their feedback counts, customers will gladly share their opinions with you. You can even involve customers in the co-creation of interaction moments, valuing not only the relationship with customers but also avoiding extremely expensive consulting fees.

3. “Our department is where it really matters”

Despite the fact that customer experience results from cooperation between all the different internal departments and customers, companies often limit customer experience to one specific department. If we want to succeed in creating a unique experience, we need the support and cooperation of the entire organization. Customers don’t think in back-office processes or how departments divide your internal organization, they only see how their needs are fulfilled and how they are serviced by a brand. Only by involving different departments, ensuring transversal thinking (instead of ‘my process’) and by taking the position of the customer, companies can build a consistent and positive customer journey across all relevant interaction channels.

4. “Who owns the process?”

True, it’s important to ensure transversal thinking and cross-departmental cooperation, but this should not obstruct the allocation of ownership of customer experience design (and its implementation) to a specific manager or department. Ownership on management level is a necessity to help safeguard the progress of customer experience design and create enough visibility within the organization.

5. “Customer experience is a one-time thing”

As we all know, current markets (and therefore customers) are evolving at an ever increasing pace. Products (and services) that are trending one day, are outdated the next. This continuous evolution is one of the major challenges for organizations. Those who are able to ride this wave of continuous change will have a major competitive advantage over companies who ignore it. If we know customer needs are ever changing, we can also conclude that customer experience is not a one-time thing. It’s a process that you need to structurally embed in your organization and keep fine-tuning throughout time, otherwise it’ll be outdated in the long run.

Keeping these 5 pitfalls in mind when investing in customer experience design will help you to create a sustainable customer company with a competitive edge on competition. If you’re interested in how 4C’s methodology tackles these 5 challenges and how we can help you with your transformation towards a customer company, don’t hesitate to contact us.