After years of operations management, I’ve seen first-hand how easy it is for an organization to say that it is committed to customer experience excellence, but the effectiveness truly depends on leaders who can define and articulate the strategy and implementation. Critical to market positioning and growth is a thorough understanding of the ‘how, why, what and when’ regarding customers’ perception of value from products and services. It’s the only way that internal teams can identify and optimize touch-points across the prospect/customer lifecycle. Having worked across several industries, I’ve had the opportunity to cull information and experience that allows me to leverage that information to transform operations.
Naturally, leadership discussions today focus on tangible benefits to customers and how the brand story will be told in Voice of Customer. By mapping the customer journey, we’re able to see the entire picture, as well as determine (sometimes hidden) costs of serving our customers throughout the process.
What is true customer value?
The value proposition for customers relates to their goals – what they want to achieve. This may, or may not be the product or service, which may be a facilitator to the goal. Take, for example, the customer’s desire to experience a classic rock concert. A live event includes the thrill of the crowd, the movement, sound, star quality, lights, refreshments, memorabilia, etc. It contains parameters relating to date, time, and location. However, the ecommerce portal or phone-based CSR sells a ticket. It’s an electronic file or barcoded piece of paper that allows access to the concert. The consumer cares little for the piece of paper or the barcode – only that it works to achieve the promised experience. This industry has demonstrated that people are willing to pay more for efficiency, greater access, and a more advanced experience. For example, based on location, a venue can sell season tickets or memberships. People will pay more for VIP seating and parking. They will also pay more to have an inclusive dinner experience or backstage passes to meet the artists. The visualization of service capability and requirements to achieve these deliverables with consistency entails defining what customers see as value, where it is in the value chain, and what capacity and revenue exists and how it is affected when investment and promotion is shifted.
Working backwards from the desired customer outcome, process redesign to accommodate the customer is going to have a huge operational impact on various types of staff in order to deliver the upsell benefits. Special parking and attendants have to be set aside… exclusive seating and security has to be secured… quality meals and dining areas set aside… and performers have to adjust their schedules to accept outsiders to their private stage areas. All of the profits for the various upsell services are subject to division across a spectrum of participating companies. All of the experiences provided have to feel seamless to the consumer.
Mapping the customer experience process results in developing clear working guidelines for all staff, by building customer relationships based on understanding customer likes and circumstances. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the wealth advisory industry, where individual circumstances have a direct correlation to investment strategies. For example, younger people are often recommended to pursue more aggressive investments, while seniors are directed towards investments that preserve capital. Likewise, couples with an infant are directed towards college savings plans and annuities where a life insurance payout is part of the investment vehicle. By pointing customers to solutions that are in their best interests overall, advisors develop trust and ultimately customer advocacy.