Is your company customer- and employee-centered, or is this simply a buzzword used by your leadership? If the latter is the case, the efforts may originate with those at the top, but make no mistake, the real work happens throughout all the verticals and teams within your organization. This includes those that design the experiences for your services, products, and engagement. Your company operates using four words: ‘’Adoption, Retention, Renewals, Insights’’ – repeat!
This article will help you as a leader realign your organization to reignite its ability to deliver a much better experience for your customers, partners, and employees. It will also define what it means to be a truly customer-centric company.
We are now experiencing a reset – especially in technology sector, which experienced improvements over the last year in much the same way that retail did. As of the writing of this article, you have had 1.4 years to learn, reflect, and adapt. Now is the time to take action.
In my last article, I discussed the The 6 Fundamentals to Improve Your Digital Transformation and Supply Chain Experience aspects. Now I am focusing on your technology, since it is the only way customers will stick with you – particularly in the B2B world. Companies that continue to deliver overcomplicated solutions will survive until a simpler and more effective solution emerges. Yes, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce are great solutions, but they are still overcomplicated in terms of instigating great experiences and designing to generate adoption.
In a recent conversation with the Chief Customer Officer of Ericsson, Tabitha Dunn, she mentioned that the reason companies still acquire complex systems is based partly on the fact that users are not the decision-makers. Sometimes they are not even stakeholders or influencers in the process of acquiring licenses in the software world – apart from the fact that they are given a role to use the existing technology provided by the company. In our conversation, Dunn also referred to the large number of change requests and new functionalities required by customers.
One of the most important elements for generating and sustaining a positive customer experience is obviously the quality of the product or service that is a given today. In an ideal company, teams focus on designing software with logic and customer needs in mind, and human-centric, intuitive approaches. But so far, I would say that only Amazon and few other companies have been successful at this.
In a post-COVID-19 world, customers – and this applies the same whether it’s B2B or B2C – will remember how your company helped them during those hard times and how efficiently you were able to enact improvements from the first moments of the pandemic until now. They will remember how you were able to remove complexity and useless features from your products, services, and design and still deliver a great experience for them. This is specifically valid for the tech world.
For instance, let’s say that certain features were developed by one team, or were based on customer and stakeholder feedback and insights. The company’s leadership needs to measure the impact of these requests against any potential risks and to ask themselves whether it is the right time to avoid overcomplicating the technology. In the world of cloud solutions, customer requests are not always the best solution for your technology or for the majority of customers. Sometimes, these requests could even impede your innovation team from solving their issues in a very different – but potentially more efficient – manner.
Logically speaking, your duty is to help customers do more than just spend their time understanding your solutions. If your product becomes easier to grasp and to adopt, you will generate more renewals, loyalty, and revenue. This can be applied to any type of business – from a shop floor for a manufacturer, to retail, and even to an enterprise technology organization.
None of this is easy. But it is still imperative. Loyalty, loyalty, and loyalty are the words that will make a big impact on your bottom line. This will depend on what you did and which course of actions your organization took during the pandemic. Customer memories can last a very long time when it comes to experience.
You Have One Chance to Impress: Don’t Skip the Experience Design
Remember that your customer is specifically looking to solve their issues, not to buy your solution. You need to proactively design your customer’s experience in order to gain their attention, persuade them to buy your solution, and to retain them as a customer.
10 practical suggestions to create a better customer experience through reduced complexity:
Consider using the Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) prioritization model from Agile. This helps you choose the right path with the proper focus on prioritization, the consideration of risks, customer and business value, and the cost of delay per feature designed.
Use measurable KPIs when experimenting with features and functionalities: This is important if you have not done it yet during the pandemic. Always align a feature with a way to monitor how it is being adopted by the user by attaching a KPI metric to it and checking the adoption and usage. If adoption is poor, this might be something you can cut.
Do not overload the customer: During COVID-19, it was a mistake to overwhelm customers that were already under stress. The stress created leads to churn instead of adoption. During the pandemic, people around the globe were already overloaded. Roland T. Rust, Debora Viana Thompson, and Rebecca W. Hamilton wrote a great article in Harvard Business Review about this: less means more when creating an objective user and customer experience design. Three features are more easily adoptable than ten.
Review budget and costs: Complexity and useless features and functionalities have a high cost. Did you review that during the pandemic? All features require budget allocation – both for the company and for the consumer. Ask yourself:
What will be the impact if this feature is not available for customers anymore?
Will the company lose customers, or will they be less willing to continue working with you?
Examine the top value per feature experience: Remember, we want to cut the features that provide the least value. It is very important to think about how the user will experience the functionality step by step. These “Process Flows” should be based on how the user will perceive, adopt, and receive value.
Use emotion to connect with customers but not to decide which features should stay or go: Collaborate with your teams, customers, and discussion groups to test, prototype, and experiment. Collect data and insights to make your decision… and cut the rest!
Conduct proofs of concept and prototype priorities: Most companies already use Voice of Customer (VoC) or Voice of Employee (VoE) feedback. However, when creating your digital experience, you should look at the whole range of Agile methods and tools. A Feature-Driven Development (FDD) process will help you receive feedback after testing with customers. And the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) project management approach permits several tests when applied to cloud or real product lines. Although DSDM is a simple approach, its success is due to the fact that it is based on the philosophy “that any project must be aligned to clearly defined strategic goals and focus upon early delivery of real benefits to the business.”
Remember the COVID-19 differentiator: Prior to this pandemic, you potentially had some excuse to not have your experience right. Afterwards, there will be no excuses. The Coronavirus helped many organizations to become better in human experience – whether the human is an employee, customer, partner, or any stakeholder. Did you take the chance to improve?
In verticals, utilize an adaptable design approach for experience: All the talk about culture and strategy originates in the C-suite. However, unless your organization properly engages in the hard task of change, training, communicating, coaching, and repeating in the daily execution, nothing will really happen. The same applies for the way you design all the details related to your digital experience. The details – meaning the product or interface design – can no longer be a “one-solution-fits-all” experience for customers and users.
Ensure emotional appeal: When your products, services, and methods appeal to customers on an emotional level, it makes it easy for customers to love your solutions. Make it intuitive (which is often easier said than done) or help the customer by offering a great customer success program. At the end of the day, the KPI for digital transformation success is adoption, retention, and making sure your customer says, “I’ll Be Back” – as Shep Hyken called his upcoming new book.
I hope those suggestions can help your company to design the necessary mindset to create and prepare your customer experience for the post-pandemic period.
Again, it won’t be easy.
How are you preparing your organization verticals to enhance your digital customer experience?
Recently in Europe, a new CX association was open as open (free) access community. The ECXO means, the European Customer Experience Organization. I think you will enjoy from it and if you are searching for a great organization. the ECXO is an open-access community of leaders and organizations committed to working and evolving together to raise the collective customer and employee experience across Europe and beyond. Come and lets evolve together. CX is a dinamic evolving art, let’s evolve together.