When thinking of what to talk about, I thought in 20 minutes, after 6 great speakers and some incredible content, I better keep it it simple. I recalled a snapshot I took of simple messaging. I was in a mall here in Sydney a few weeks back and saw this temporary wallpaper for a retail space under renovation. It caught my attention, it made me happy as a shopper to think I came first.
But as a customer experience professional I then thought…’they have a big promise to fulfill! I wonder how they are planning on delivering?’
So I thought it would be good to have a lesson in what Customer Experience is as we all face the challenges of achieving to Omnichannel Nirvana, or something close!
Customer experience – The path to Omni Channel Nirvana
Easy to preach, how easy to practice?
Today Ill be be touching on these 3 terms because, not only are they quite popular catchphrases, but Customer Experience and Agile Development are key ingredients in the recipe for Omni Channel Nirvana.
I will also share with you how 3 companies across different industries are successfully adopting these practices in to their internal cultures on a daily basis.
First – what is Omni Channel? A progression of multi channel marketing which encompasses a seamless approach to the customer experience across all sales channels.
So much for keeping it simple, huh?
But in this age of disruption, when over the past 7 years we have grown from 5 touchpoints to 30 touchpoints to consider; and smartphones are set to connect an additional 2-3 billion of the worlds citizens by 2020, if we are here to talk about the future of Retail we need to be talking about omni channel and Customer Experience.
Whether it’s single, multi, cross or omni channel – we are all aspiring to achieve a degree of Nirvana; customers experiencing a Brand, NOT a channel within a Brand.
Creating a positive journey with that Brand through all touch points.
In order for companies to meet the demands of a seamless Customer Experience, their approach to design & development has had to change drastically, which includes getting an understanding of the customer and their behaviours across all these different touch points. The way they are doing this is engaging them at the forefront of development, not at the end. This is where Customer Experience comes in to the mix.
In the true spirit of putting customers first, Companies are engaging CX partners, or even building internal CX teams, to ensure that the customer remains at the forefront of the business objectives.
More often than not the development of a product, service or marketing campaign can continue down a path heavily influenced by the business objectives, losing sight of the end user and the many channels they use.
By building Customer Experience or User Experience methodologies into the product lifecycle early and often, companies are committing to accountability and visibility to keeping those business objectives aligned with the customer needs. This also reduces their risks and gets them to market with fewer surprises…almost Seamlessly.
How do they do this without delaying the release of products with the speed of the current marketplace?
Well, they become Agile. Adapting to a more rapid, collaborative development process.
When I talk about Agile UX to a non UX audience I tend to define is it as a process that guarantees exponential Value & Savings – of both time and money.
Again, easy for me to preach, now show me the practice!
Agile Development engages customers & stakeholders multiple times throughout the process of Design & Development.
With User Testing early and often they are able to achieve a speed to market while mitigating their risks by making informed decisions from embracing feedback as they go.
We all might be engaging our customers’, but at what stage and how?
Development has traditionally been a linear process, the age old ‘production line’ or what we in the CX world call the Waterfall model, where business units worked in silos, completing their role & requirements and handing over of the next stage.
Sometimes this process includes testing, but more likely that testing was near the end of the process, with an almost finished product.
Let’s take a look at Agile Development, a process that includes collaboration across all business units, and including customer experience & testing at every stage of the process.
Agile is circular, always testing, improving and perfecting with face to face consumer engagement EARLY and OFTEN.
Here is where you reduce your risks; exploring, experimenting, even failing on your own terms in order to improve before you have a finished product.
We all know how much time and money is involved when you find out about critical issues after you have a finished product.
If you develop your products and concepts with insights from consumers throughout the entire lifecycle of a concept, there should be no great surprises at delivery.
This is what the new development process should look like.
Testing early and often allows for constant change and improvements.
Engaging representatives from business, marketing and IT teams allows for decisions to be made collaboratively
Engaging Customers at the onset allowing companies to benefit from the customers’ feedback and behaviours which then drives the designs with informed decisions
The simple message here is that getting back in touch with our customers face to face needs to be a fundamental part of the development process.
Most of us are coming to the realisation that we can not rely on Big Data, especially as we head to a data explosion. Key decisions are being made from spreadsheets and google analytics without 1 to 1 customer engagements.
Traditional research is rich with metrics and analytics, yet most of the traditional techniques leave companies still speculating, theorising. The natural response has been to increase the sample size exponentially to try and find a trend.
Following are 3 case studies where implementing Customer Experience with smaller numbers of subjects gained richer insights that validated the WHY around the Quantitative metrics.
This client was struggling with an internal debate about their marketing budget allocation. With 17 product managers vying for promotional real estate across 13 different points of stimulus the Marketing team needed some hard metrics on what forms of marketing was actually working and WHY. . In a 3 week study we intercepted 80 customers across 4 branches, and asked them to wear our eye tracking glasses while they went about their business.
At the end of the 3 weeks we were able to clearly identify what forms were getting attention, and where there were opportunities to improve.
With our expertise using eye tracking software and hardware as a key tool in the research we were able to provide tangible evidence of people’s unconscious behaviours. Yes, eye tracking is not the future, it is very much a part of every study we facilitate.
You can see with these heatmaps and gaze times where people were looking. (more on unconscious insights and value of RTA for recall) Amidst Posters, outside TV’s, Navigations signage, Brochures and Belt hangers, etc. people were only looking at the TV screens…or of course their own source of entertainment, Candy Crush. The numbers pertaining to gaze times provide a clear answer but that is by no means the end of the story. While the TV’s were attracting the most attention, in our interviews following their session, we were able to identify even richer insights – most specifically the largest opportunity which was that people liked the content on the TV’s BUT in an environment where the average wait time in line was 30 minutes the TV content loop was only 3 minutes long. Of course they tuned out after the 2nd loop started. You must marry the quant with the qual.
Big finding, clear opportunity.
I have referenced OPSM as a good example of testing the Omni Channel experience.
Earlier in the year they released to this feature of booking an eye test with one of their many locations using any digital channel.
Before launch, and after they had done a few rounds of development which included some testing with friends and family, they decided to engage us for formal UX study to make sure that it was optimised for good Omni Channel Experience.
They didn’t have much time for major changes or any delays, just some quick wins on a quick turn before they drove all of this traffic to the site, and to their shops!
It always suprises me to learn the budgets for marketing yet they set little aside to test the customer experience before a huge investment inviting them to come without know if they will come…and then go. What about investing in the best shot at a first impression?!
So together with their internal Product & IT Team, and their design agency, we as their CX partner did a 1 week Sprint with 12 pre recruited customers.
In one room, over 2 days of 1 to 1 testing on the 3 platforms they had a clear actionable roadmap of the critical areas of improvement before launching the product to the marketplace, as well as some further insights to carry into future iterations of the website.
With PayPal’s in store App, we simulated a shopping environment for 3 groups of 6 customers to test 3 variations on the App functionality.
Global stakeholders from Australia, US and Singapore representing Product, Design, IT and UX gathered in our offices for 1 week to test 3 clickable prototypes in order to leave with 1 that was the beneficiary of all of the findings from testing.
After each individual session key learnings were discussed among the key stakeholders and real time changes were applied by the developers to the actual prototypes before following sessions.
For me this Agile Nirvana, testing and developing in the course of 3-4 days in what we have seen take 3-4 months, or even up to 2 years, with other companies. It is now live in the marketplace – have a try and let us know how your customer experience was!
These are only a few examples to demonstrate how good Customer Experience can be implemented at all levels of time and budget, whether it be a $5k, $50k or a $150k budget.
With the right approach to customer experience you can see what the customers are are doing and WHY? How are you putting your customers first?
The path to Omni Channel Nirvana
Popular Terminology …
• Omni Channel
• Customer Experience
• Agile Development
User Experience needs to be 1 step ahead of
design & development
End to End Cross Functional Teams:
• Business & Marketing
• User Experience
Test Early and Often, engaging Customer Input
and Empathy throughout the entire process
1 to 1 Customer Engagement,
whether 6 or 600…
Apply it early & often
3 Case Studies
• DBS Bank
DBS Bank, Customer Experience
• 80 participants
• 4 Bank branches
• 13 points of stimuli
• 3 weeks study
OPSM - Omni Channel Sprints
• 12 pre recruited
• Multi device testing
• 1 week study