It’s hard to explain what I do. Customer experience is a topic many are passionate about, yet they don’t always know what to do about it. I’m often introduced as a “consultant” which leads people to wondering what I do and why people pay me for it.
I’m not sure if I can do this in one post, but here goes. A day in the life of me as a customer experience investigator.
Someone cue the music and I’ll be slowly removing my aviators for the opening credits…
There really is no typical day.
Most of my clients have ongoing relationships with me, so I know exactly what the expectations are on a weekly basis. I challenge myself to have at least one deliverable per week for each client. I’m able to do this with some help from contractors and assistants, but I understand clients hire me for me, so I am still very involved with the main parts of the products.
Here are a few of the things I’ve done recently my clients, depending on what we’re working on or what their concerns are:
Taking a walk in the customer’s shoes is usually a part of my day. This is done in a variety of ways, most of which I can do virtually. I have a proprietary heuristic analysis I use to review web sites from the customer perspective, complete with scoring and colorful charts. This type of evaluation is highly detailed, so I try to reserve appropriate brain power for it. Sometimes taking a walk in their shoes is about mapping out the customer journey. I do this with a variety of research tidbits, employee interviews, documentation exploration, and actually walking through the process.
Competitive analysis is playing a bigger role in what I do. This means I examine the experience from the customer’s perspective, point out where competitors are gaining or lacking, and usually get inspired by something “missing” from everyone. This leads to innovation and better experiences for my clients’ customers. Much of this is focused on the online experience, so I have a features gap analysis I use as well as just qualitative observation.
For lack of a better name, I become a high-level mystery shopper for my clients. This means conducting actual transactions, going through the corporate sales process, reviewing customer communications, ending a customer relationship – all as if I’m a real customer. While I’m a focus group of one, I bring with me about 15 years of doing this. It’s never disappointing what we learn from these types of experiences. My clients have improved many processes by being open enough to receive feedback this way. The process on paper is never quite what’s happening in real life.
Social media is part of the experience. More and more, we’re focusing on ways to review how social media is used and how we can use it better to serve customers. I do a lot of social media audits and work with the internal departments who are focused on this aspect of the experience. This is another fascinating way to learn every day about what’s working and what isn’t!
Training and speaking is something I enjoy doing but don’t do as much of any more. I’m just not up for too much travel since I’ve got 2 munchkins at home who need me here IRL. Occasionally, though, a specific need arises and I help my clients create training programs or speak with their group. The most popular topics are employee engagement, social media and communication.
Strategy Sessions are other IRL events I enjoy but can’t do too much. My favorite ones are the totally free-for-all, get-everyone-thinking-big innovation sessions. That’s where real customer experience magic happens.
Part of what I love about how I’ve framed this business is that I am totally a third-party investigator. Once we identify what needs to be done for the online experience, or sales process, or retention strategy, I am not trying to sell the next step. I help continue to examine things from the customer’s perspective so we can continue to improve proactively.
I’ll be honest – it takes enlightened leadership to be ready to pay for this. It may seem easier to have the web firm do the initial analysis, but they can’t bring the outside-in perspective. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking your employees give you the information you need, but they can’t. And while we like to think we are always keeping one eye on the competition, it’s typically buried in the day-to-day of running a business. I’m grateful every day for the clients I have who get this and understand that evaluation, investigation and honesty are what build strong experiences.
Then, of course, there’s my business.
I wish I could say I have this all figured out into a science, but I don’t. But I still have to worry about finances, marketing, blogging, guest blogging, learning, managing projects and people, and planning the growth of 360Connext. Somwhere, somehow, I try to find time for these things in my week.
So, there you go. The not-so-typical day of a Customer Experience Investigator. I’m thinking I need a trench coat and a walkie-talkie to complete the look. What? Too much?