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March 16, 2023

The Customer: An Unexpected Journey, Part 2—Designed for Greatness

Much like Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, your customer is on a journey from what they know to something new or something better. While their adventure might not involve elves or dragons, they need help to make progress on the journey.

Much like Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, your customer is on a journey from what they know to something new or something better. While their adventure might not involve elves or dragons, they need help to make progress on the journey. As we discussed in “Part 1: How Humans Buy,” it’s vital to understand what your customer wants when designing your total customer experience. After all, you want to help them get exactly where they want to go —and enjoy the journey.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” — Steve Jobs

Start with the Experience

You just got done with a research study that helped you understand your customer’s “Jobs to Be Done,” and you realize you can deliver a better experience. But to do this requires design in several areas. Let’s explore those.

Designing the Experience

You’ve done the homework, and it’s time to design the customer experience, drawing on your data-backed perspective. This is the foundation that will allow your entire business to work towards being the best at helping the customer make progress.

For each Job to Be Done that you identified in your research, you should document the related customer journey to explain the path a customer takes in their quest for progress on that job. How will you help them? How will that change the journey? To answer those questions, you should map how business functions will connect with the customer at each stage of their journey.

The goal is to design your products and services to fit into that journey and help them to their destination with as little effort as possible, even creating enjoyment for them.

Example Functions

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Product
  • Customer Success
  • Support

Questions to Ask Your Team at Each Touchpoint

  • How is this function affecting the customer?
  • Can we leverage automation to enhance the experience?
  • How should the customer feel about that?

Thinking through the answers to these questions will enable you and your stakeholders to see how your organization must adapt to deliver the experience you desire. You’ll also want to mitigate risks by ensuring your design is based on a fact-based understanding of what your customer ultimately wants to achieve or become. You may have multiple rounds of this process, as you may need to fulfill multiple jobs to be done.

Designing the Organization

Now that you have an idea of how your product and service delivery will have to change around the customer journey, you should have an informed idea about where you must adjust people, processes, and technology. Let’s talk about this in two categories: knowing what to do, and acting on it.

Know

Your people and your technology can act to delight customers with the greatest success when they know your customers’ jobs to be done and the customer’s intent at touch points they own. Providing your teams with the right insights at the right time is a big job that requires continuous refinement, but there are practical steps to take.

Socialize the Customer’s Intent.

Make sure everyone in your company understands the customer’s jobs to be done. At this point, many teams would seek to create personas. I recommend using the Customer Job in place of the traditional persona. A few points on why I prefer the Customer Job:

  • Prioritizes customer intent and behavior over demographics
  • Doesn’t create a fictional person, which keeps your customer experience design laser-focused on what the customer is trying to achieve.
  • Can protect from preconceived notions and biases by only including demographics that are relevant to the Job.

Enable a 360 View of the Customer.

You know what it’s like to talk to a customer service agent online or over the phone who should be able to look up your information without having to ask you for it again because you’re a customer with an account, but they do it anyway. It’s maddening. You think, “This information should be readily available to this person. Why are they asking me for it again?” Don’t be that company.

This is commonly an issue with internal software that just isn’t intuitive or fast enough to give employees the right information. Having a single source of truth for your team members is a part of enabling them to nail the customer experience.

Quickly surfacing and acting on customer data is an aspect of digital transformation for large enterprises that is no small undertaking, but the value to the business on the other side makes it worth it. Think about that mountain of dragon gold that Thorin wanted!

Customer expectations around personalization and digital channels grow steadily with each passing year, so investments here are necessary just to stay competitive.

Act

Having the right information available at the right time means that you can capitalize on that information to drive delight. What this looks like will have as many flavors as there are jobs to be done, but here are some thoughts:

Team Structure

Armed with the right information, cross-functional teams can be organized around particular customer journeys. For example, at United Healthcare, customer journeys are owned by Experience Leaders who are responsible for enabling great experiences around the journey they and their teams own.

Allowing a cross-functional group to own an experience enables them to have the depth and expertise necessary to deliver excellence for the customer. This is a big piece of the Employee Enablement puzzle.

Culture and Policy

Knowing the customer’s fundamental intent allows you to set expectations and policies that are specifically designed to deliver effortless, and even delightful, outcomes for your customers. You can give your team parameters, and autonomy within those parameters, to act without having to ask permission.

The Ritz Carlton Company is a great example of understanding customer intent and providing the operational environment to act on it. Guests at the Ritz Carlton expect the gold standard of luxury accommodations and service. They know if they’re at a Ritz Carlton, they will be taken care of with excellence and attention to detail. This is especially attractive to business travelers.

Their famous internal motto is, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

This simple statement conveys a powerful message to employees: you are important, and so are the people you are serving. In addition, it implies that employees and guests are expected to conduct themselves in a certain manner because there is a special level of honor with being a lady or gentleman of the Ritz Carlton. The motto cements the employee’s “Job to Be Done” as well. It is masterful.

Operational Application

The Ritz Carlton gives each employee $2,000 per day to make a guest’s day better, or to remedy a bad experience, without having to ask their manager’s permission. Because of the excellent employee training and cultural disciplines at the Ritz Carlton, the customer’s intent is well understood by each lady and gentleman, and they have all the insight they need culturally, and situationally, to do what is best for the customer at any given moment.

Getting the Treasure

It’s no longer a secret that companies leveraging design to transform and deliver better customer experiences perform substantially better than companies that don’t. There’s a lot that goes into delivering excellence, more than we can cover in this article. Intentionally designing the right customer experience, and designing your organization in a way that can deliver that experience, is the path to the treasure. You might have to slay a few orcs along the way, but you’ll be glad you did.

#CustomerJourneys #CustomerData #EmployeeEmpowerment

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