The quality of an experience is relative to one’s expectations of an interaction. For example, if I go to a standard travelling 3-ring circus expecting the usual show, but get a Cirque Du Soleil performance, I might be blown away and have an exceptional customer experience. But rather, if I go to a Cirque show and have been to Cirque three times before, the experience is likely to meet my expectations or seems less exceptional than in the previous example. But, why does this matter?
It matters because it is import to decide what your optimal market position is before measuring how you are performing against it. There is no point in mapping and measuring a customer experience if the customer is looking for an experience from our brand that we aren’t trying to deliver. Getting a 3 out of 10 on ‘personal greeting’ isn’t necessarily bad, and might be completely irrelevant, if your goal is to automate your ticketing process and deliver a streamlined and fast (but not personal) service. So, sometimes the first way to improve a customer experience is to define it properly. Only then will measurement be useful.
So, how can this be done? Assuming your product/service is in market, it is usually done through a combination of internal soul searching and customer insight development. Internal strategy development takes many shapes and can be done many ways. Each company knows what works best for them, so I will focus on the customer half. In terms on customer insights, depth interviews are an excellent tool. Taking a cross section of customers (from multiple segments, geographies etc.) and spending 30-45 minutes interviewing them, and asking them what they need, want and desire from your brand, will give you a very valuable set of data to combine with your internal strategy. Customers are active brand owners now, so acting without their input can be dangerous. Questions like “How long would you like to review the wine menu?” or “How soon after your coffee would you like your bill to arrive?” can be combined with your strategy of ‘fast/efficient” or “easy going/relaxed” to build the most optimal market position.
Once you have combined internal desires with customer insight to develop an optimal market position, you can implement it. Only now can you measure the experience, in a valuable way, by getting customer feedback and input. Measurement for measurement sake has no value. Measuring against a desired/optimal market position can be worth its weight in gold.