Seek and destroy customer experiences


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When the best customer experience is NO experience

chris no experience

Today’s goal – The one-step experience 

Most of our customer experiences today are things we don’t really want to do. Yes, we want an outcome of some kind, but the steps needed to get there are often barriers or tasks we don’t really want. For example;

  • Let’s say you want a new house. You might say you ‘want’ a mortgage, but you don’t want the long forms, onerous checks and processes that are required by the bank. You just have to do it.
  • You want to drive your car, and probably accept that you ‘want’ a licence, but you don’t want to have to go to the relevant government office, take a photo, complete ID checks and pay. But you have to.

Many experiences are like this – they are tasks laid out in front of a customer whilst they try to get to their real goal. That’s why, for years, Customer experience has been about organisations trying to simplify and reduce the steps to do this; “Make it easier, faster, simpler” are the drivers for most experience improvements, with an eye on the resulting benefits in sales, retention and cost reduction.

So how far can this go? We can easily imagine that we could improve a complex 5 step process to 4,3,2 steps, even to 1 step. Often, the final goal is to achieve exactly that – a single step experience. This is variously described in different industries as ‘1-click’, or ‘one-stop-shop’ or ‘walk out working’ or ‘first call resolution’.

Chris blog amazon cartChris wow cropped

And we’re right to target this goal – single step experiences, properly designed to be simple, engaging and effective, are achieved today at least some of the time, though are still beyond most organisations for most experiences. It’s a tough target.

But it’s not enough. One step is often still one too many. So let’s explore a new goal. The no-step experience.

The Future – no-step experiences

So what is a ‘no-step experience’? It’s a process that’s been so well worked into something you were already doing, that it is effortless and all but disappears. Examples?

1.   Let’s start in Japan. Ticket barriers in train stations where you live are probably usually closed. You present a ticket and they open. But that’s a bad experience – the behaviour that customers are exhibiting on either side of the barrier is “walking”. So why does the train company stop that customer behaviour, to force a new behaviour (“stop and swipe ticket”)? In Japan they don’t do it this way; ticket barriers are open. You still have to swipe a ticket, but you don’t need to break your stride. The only intervention is if your ticket is invalid – then the barriers close! But for most customers, the ticket barrier experience has disappeared.

Chris blog train station

2.   Now Europe. Many European countries don’t just present speeding fines but encourage you to pay on the spot, via an eftpos terminal carried by the Police. And the fine can drop by up to 50% if you do so. Result – no letter, no bill, no need to make a payment later. You were stopped because you were breaking a law, but the following customer experience of ‘paying a bill’ has disappeared.

3.   And in Australia? A friend moved house recently and showed me an SMS from the electoral commission – “you have been automatically re-enrolled for voting at your new address at xxx. Please let us know if this is incorrect”. Perhaps this is triggered by the Australia post mail redirect. Either way, it seemed like magic to my friend!

How to create no-step experiences

No step experiences can be hard to spot, because it’s hard to see things that aren’t there. That also makes them hard to imagine and create for yourself. Can you think of something in your life that happened automatically, which you used to have to do yourself? An automatic or effortless payment, service, process or upgrade? They are out there – I know because I’ve made a few disappear myself.

What are the two top techniques to find a ‘no-step experience’?

1.  Human-centric design – look at what customers are already doing, in their world not yours. What are their behaviours? Find a way to work your process into their behaviours and you can make experiences effortless. That requires a greater level of customer insight than most companies have today, but it’s do-able.

2.  Process design – coming at the problem internally is essentially a “5-why’s” challenge. Keep asking why you do things this way. Why do we need that form? Why do we need to do that customer check? Why, why, why? Before long you find processes you don’t need, information you don’t use and barriers you can remove.

Go on – go seek and destroy an experience!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Severn
Co Founder and Director of The Customer Experience Company. Expert in Customer strategy, and delivery of customer improvements in service, sales and marketing, and across online, call centres and retail channels.


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