Why we are fans of customer experience management, and you should be too!

Koos
Kaspar Kazil

Reading time
15 min read

Date
Nov 27, 2020

While we still love our trusty customer journeys, they have one big limitation: they only offer a zoomed-in picture of your customer experience (CX). Meanwhile, organisations increasingly want to measure and improve customer experience across all of their touchpoints and customer journeys. This might lead to questions such as:

  • What journeys make up our service to begin with?
  • How do we measure CX performance across all of these journeys?
  • Which journeys should we improve first?
  • What language do we use across the organisation to describe these journeys?
  • Who is responsible for what?

Answering these questions requires a way of working, known as ‘customer experience management’. With great potential benefits and rapidly developing platforms to support it, it’s high time we give this topic the attention it deserves!

What is customer experience management?

Customer experience management (CX management for short) can be defined as ‘the process of measuring and managing all customer journeys across a service ecosystem’. That’s a whole lot of lingo, so let’s break it down. CX Management doesn’t look at individual journeys or touchpoints, but considers the full ‘service ecosystem’. That’s the collection of all touchpoints, interactions, and journeys that a customer might experience across their customer lifecycle. That means it includes all the steps a customer might take, from the initial customer onboarding, through daily use, up until loyalty or even offboarding.

As an example, here we created a (simplified) service ecosystem visualising a phone subscription service. Every dot represents a journey, and journeys are grouped based on their frequency of use.
Adding a CX metric such as 'reasons for calling the helpdesk' to this service ecosystem makes it instantly clear what journeys need our attention most

Why we’re fans of digital CX management platforms

As you might imagine, measuring and managing all of those different journeys and touchpoints requires robust digital solutions. Fortunately we’ve seen rapid developments in this field, resulting in innovative solutions such as Milkymap, CX Omni, TheyDo, or Smaply. These platforms enable you to map your service ecosystem, connect journeys to real-time CX metrics, and make all of that easily accessible to all people in your organisation. This brings several advantages:

 

Create a single source of truth
By establishing a single place for gathering data on customer experience, you create a common source of truth that can bridge departments. This prevents unnecessary discussion and confusion.

Coordinate projects and track their impact
CX management dashboards are great for tracking the customer-centric ‘health status’ of your products and services. This enables you to prioritise the journeys or touchpoints that deserve your attention first, which helps you to respond quickly and effectively. Furthermore, showing the monetary impact of CX performance can help you establish budgets for CX projects. Lastly, tracking CX performance over time allows you to better understand if your CX projects are having the intended effect.

Create ownership and accountability for CX
By making CX performance easily accessible and holding people accountable for it, you increase ownership for CX with people across all levels of the organisation.

Prevent double work
Too often reports aren’t used, lose their relevance, or simply get lost. With proper maintenance, a CX management dashboard can stay relevant indefinitely. Furthermore, by delegating responsibilities according to your service ecosystem you prevent teams from doing the same jobs twice.

Explain the numbers
KPI’s alone don’t tell you what should be done to improve them. To explain the behaviour the data indicates, you need to ask your customers ‘why’ and ‘how’. CX dashboards often allow you to add those qualitative insights right next to the numbers, effectively bundling quantitative and qualitative data together in the same place.

Modern CX Management dashboards offer insight into both quantitative and qualitative CX data, neatly mapped according to the service ecosystem

How to get a CX management platform up and running

Can’t wait to get started? Neither can we! Simply creating a CX management dashboard won’t magically unlock all of that potential however. You need to carefully consider the customer perspective, how to make your CX dashboard actionable, and how to sustainably embed it in your organisation’s way of working. Therefore, we propose the following steps:

1. Prepare for a soft landing

Make sure your team or organisation are ready

Just as plants need fertile ground to grow, your CX management dashboard needs a basic level of CX maturity to succeed. CX Maturity looks at how ‘mature’ your organisation is when it comes to customer-centricity, by considering indicators such as people and resources, tools and capabilities, and more. These factors will also play a role when you set out to implement a CX management platform. For example: you’ll need access to people skilled in data science and customer-centricity to help you. You’ll need a budget and mandate too, which you might only unlock if those in charge believe in customer-centric ways of working. Furthermore you’ll need access to CX metrics, which your organisation might not even keep track of yet. These are all aspects of CX maturity that you’ll need to keep in mind in order to get started. 

For more on CX maturity and the indicators to look for, have a look here.

Just as plants need fertile ground to grow, your CX management dashboard needs a basic level of CX maturity to succeed.

Aim for a pilot first

Ideally you are either a CEO or you have C-level support to roll this out across your organisation. However, don’t be discouraged if you’re not. Even for CEO’s we would recommend trying out a pilot first, for example within a department, service, or team only. Not only does that reduce risk: it will also help you to gain experience much faster while proving that CX management works. That will provide you with a more stable foundation to scale things up afterwards.

 

Gather the right team

To set up the right team, involve people that will be using the CX management dashboard as well as the people you need to make that happen. That means you should involve at least:

  • A powerful crusader – Someone with the mandate, budget, and willingness to support this. 
  • Data experts – People who know what is available in terms of data and knows where to find it 
  • UX/Service designers – People that represent the voice of the customer and understand the challenges related to CX maturity involved in such a project
  • Journey/Product owners – People who know the ins and outs of the services or products your company offers

2. Map your service ecosystem

Once you’ve gathered your team, it’s time to create an inventory of all the customer journeys that make up your service ecosystem. Make sure to do this from a customer perspective. It might be tempting to structure your ecosystem according to your organisation’s processes and departments, but your customers will probably experience these journeys much differently. For example: when applying for a phone subscription a customer might pass through compliance, fulfillment, and logistical departments internally. The customer will probably be completely oblivious to all of that. All they see is an onboarding journey that starts when they click on ‘order’ and ends when they’ve sent their first text. To make sure you get this right, validate your ecosystem with your customers.

Mapping your service ecosystem involves a lot of postits

3. Decide what to measure and show

What can should you measure and show?

When it comes to measuring CX, there are two categories of metrics you can track: 

  • Behavioural KPI’s track what people do, such as conversion rate, time-on-task, or recurring use.
  • Attitudinal KPI’s track what people say, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer satisfaction (CSAT), or review sentiment scores.

The full list of CX metrics within each category is nearly endless. Multiply this with the number of journeys in the average service ecosystem, and you’ll quickly have a number overload on your hands. Therefore the better question is: What should you show?

With endless CX metrics to measure and show, it's easy to create a number overload

Co-create with users

To make sure you only show what’s relevant, your first step is to sit down with the people that will be using the CX management dashboard. Different experts will have different needs when it comes to measuring CX performance. The service ecosystem provides a perfect starting point for this conversation. It creates a shared language, provides an overview of the touchpoints available for measurement, and helps to determine how deep you want to ‘zoom in’. The optimal zoom level depends on who’s watching: While a CEO might only need a few key CX metrics, a UX’er might need much more detailed information on individual journey steps and touchpoints. While doing all of this, make sure to include data experts to validate what’s realistic within your organisation. 

CX Dashboards can show different levels of zoom

Summarise your data

Another way to prevent number overload is to combine ‘raw’ CX data into combined CX metrics. These CX metrics can show overall CX performance at a glance. For example, Transavia combined CX metrics from 24 touchpoints into a single  ‘Passenger Experience Index’. You can even express CX metrics in monetary terms. Research suggests that satisfied customers are more loyal, will buy more, and will recommend a service to more other people. In other words: a better CX can be linked to generating more revenue or ‘customer lifetime value’ (CLV). Linking your CX performance to CLV requires a big pool of historic data, smart modelling, and continuous validation of your model with real customers behaviour. This can get quite technical, but it can be done: companies like Transavia and Rabobank are already doing it. 

It’s not about the numbers: it’s about what you do with them.

Explain the data

Numbers are great at measuring behaviour, which helps to identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement. Some platforms can even help you identify trends, correlations, and more using clever data science magic. As powerful as that is, you will still need qualitative research to explain those results by asking ‘why’ and ‘how’ to your customers. That’s why we recommend using CX management dashboards that allow you to add qualitative insights to the numbers. You need this explanation to know how to take action. It’s not about the numbers: it’s about what you do with them.

4. Pick the right solution for you

By now you should have a pretty good idea of your budget, mandate, and the CX metrics you want to measure. It’s time to decide what tool best fits all of those requirements. There’s three approaches you can choose from: creating manual snapshots, using off the shelf tools, and creating custom-built tools.

Manual snapshots

The easiest way to create an overview of your CX performance is to simply create a ‘quick and dirty’ snapshot. It only takes paper and post-its (or Miro) to create a service ecosystem. Adding CX metrics to it could be as easy as walking over to your nearest data expert or helpdesk manager, requesting any CX data they might have for you, and manually mapping that on top of the journeys it relates to (see example). Furthermore, this is a great way to prove the value of this way of working within a small budget or timeframe. The result is good enough to support short-term decision making, and it can manually be updated to keep its relevance.

Manual snapshots of CX performance can prove the value of CX management within a small budget or timeframe

CX management platforms

For most organisations we recommend using ‘off the shelf’ CX management platforms. These platforms allow you to map your service ecosystem and link it up with qualitative and quantitative data. There are several exciting options to choose from, each with their own unique strengths. Since this is a topic in itself, we will spend our next blog comparing several options.

 

Custom-built solutions

For some (larger) organisations using off the shelf platforms might not be flexible enough. In those cases building a custom software solution might be the way to go, although this does require a large, continued investment. We recommend trying out off the shelf tools first before embarking upon such an adventure

For most organisations we recommend using off the shelf CX management tools.

5. Embed in your organisation

So, you’ve set up your CX management dashboard and it’s actually showing useful CX performance data. Congratulations! Now the real fun begins. Although it’s often overlooked, a CX management dashboard won’t magically start using itself. It needs people to actually use and maintain it. That might require a shift in their way of working. Creating a dashboard and then not using it is one of the biggest pitfalls, so tread with care!

 

Assign a journey coördinator

CX management dashboards need care and love. To ensure they get plenty, we recommend assigning a dedicated person for the job: The journey coördinator. Their goal is to encourage adoption, hunt for high-quality data, and ensure that measurements are conducted fairly. The journey coördinator will often span multiple departments. Data is often fractured throughout an organisation: hidden in dusty reports, excel sheets, and the ingrained knowledge of many different people

To make a CX dashboard a success, people across multiple levels and departments will have to adopt it into their way of working.

Incentivise the use of the CX Dashboard

Even the most dedicated journey coordinators won’t be able to do everything by themselves. To make a CX dashboard a success, people across multiple levels and departments will have to adopt it into their way of working. They’ll have to start using CX performance to guide their efforts and track the impact of their work. There are several strategies to make that happen. First of all: start small. As mentioned before, run a pilot within a single team or department to gain experience and collect proof for this way of working. Secondly comes employee engagement. People across all levels of the organisation need to understand what is expected of them and why that’s important. Thirdly we recommend freeing up time for people expected to contribute data, such as data experts or CX researchers. Expect that it will take these people 1 to 3 days per month to keep a CX management dashboard up to date.

A CX management dashboard won’t magically start using itself

Lastly we recommend creating ownership for CX performance. One way to do this is to take CX performance into account when evaluating projects, teams, or people. Be careful though: this should go hand in hand with checks and balances that promote fair measurement. Otherwise all you might end up doing is incentivise people to ‘game’ their CX measurements. You’d be surprised how often metrics like NPS are misused by leading, guilting, or even bribing customers into giving high scores.

 

Restructure your organisation

If you are truly serious about becoming more customer-centric, you might consider moving from product owners to journey owners, or even restructure whole teams around your service ecosystem. Since this is a subject on its own we recommend this blog if you want to learn more.

Conclusion: Let’s get started!

We believe CX management is the next frontier for organisations that want to offer great customer experiences. Modern CX management platforms can enable a way of working that is truly customer-centric, data-based, and accessible to all members of an organisation. Simply creating a dashboard won’t automatically unlock that potential however. For starters, CX management dashboards won’t magically start using themselves. To embed them within organisations you need to carefully consider the customer perspective, how to make them actionable, and how to guide your teams towards a more CX-mature way of working. These are the types of challenges we face daily as CX experts, making us ideally positioned to help out. If you have any questions on how to set up CX management within your team or organisation, do not hesitate to contact us!

Read more on how we can help you implement CX management at scale

 

Coming up: Comparing state of the art CX management dashboards

In our upcoming blog we will dive deeper into a comparison of several exciting CX management dashboards. Follow the author or Koos on Linkedin so you don’t miss it!

 

References

These articles and podcasts inspired us in writing this blog. Feel free to dig deeper! 

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