SMART Customer Experience Management

By Mohamed El-Hinnawi

“Hard work does not guarantee success,

but no success is possible without hard work”

 Dr. T.P. Chia.

This quote is applicable to school, work, sports, relationships, and all sorts of life dimensions. But what needs to be done besides hard work to guarantee success? Opportunity, luck, thinking hard and working smart are all contributing factors.

Being widely adopted, Customer Experience Management is a rather complex practice than an easy ride. It requires thinking hard, working hard, and working SMART. In this post, I would like to focus on what working SMART, as an acronym, means when it comes to customer experience management.

We are all aware of what SMART means when it comes to performance objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. When it comes to customer experience, I would like to borrow SMART for: Simulating the customer journey, Mapping the value-driving moments, Analyzing internal and external metrics, Redefining the value proposition, and Transforming the culture.

Simulate the customer journey

Throughout their relationship with you, your customers go through several journeys and interact with you through different channels. Their perception of you is not formed based on a single interaction on a certain channel. Their perception is built based on several interactions through several channels. If you are not able to deliver a consistent experience across all those channels throughout the whole journey, then you are not meeting the expectations. Decisions made to improve customer experience without understanding the end to end customer journey will not grant you the impact you are seeking.  Each interaction, irrespective of the channel is a dot by itself. If you do not simulate the customer journey to connect the dots, something will be missing.

It is worth noting here that different customers undergo different journeys. A recent customer survey done by NICE and BCG reflects how important personalization is to customers. Hence, keeping in mind that “one size does not fit all” and simulating different customer journeys becomes essential.

Map the value-driving moments

Once customer journeys are understood, it is very important to identify the value-driving moments across the journey. Those moments are the moments where the mutual value to you and your customers is created. This does not contradict with the idea of simulating customer journeys, on the contrary, it helps to work smartly and to develop the priorities to what needs to be done.

Value driving moments will vary depending on your strategic objectives and business model. They could be the moments that generate the most revenue or the ones where you can reduce cost. They could also be the ones that require investment but will help increase the customer lifetime value.

On the other hand, moments that drive value to your customers are much more dynamic and differ between a customer and another. Those are the moments where you can either exceed the expectations of your customers and generate a positive value, or not meet their needs and generate a negative value.

Analyze internal and external metrics

Your customers care less about your key performance indicators. If your customers interact with you through a channel that is performing great in terms of your set thresholds but they are not satisfied or you are not meeting their expectations, then your hard work is meaningless. Every internal KPI that supports a channel or a process that customers go through in their journeys, must have an external measure that tracks the customer satisfaction on this specific channel or process.

The gap between the external metric and the internal metric is what your radar should capture and focus on.

Redefine your value proposition

What’s unfortunate to businesses is that their competitors are not limited to their markets and industries anymore. Customer expectations are exponentially evolving based on their experiences with different brands from different industries and locations and they expect you to deliver on those expectations. If your value proposition is addressing a product or service without addressing experiences or is not aligned with how customers measure success, then you are not providing value. Customer success depends a lot on experience-driven emotions. If you make a customer happy by saving her time and money, you have created mutual value.

Transform your culture

Do not transform your culture, and all of the above is meaningless. Above all, this is the hardest. Cultural transformation requires sincerity and belief. If you are leading an organization that claims to put the customer at the center, you should practice what you preach. Your first customers are your internal ones, your employees. If you do not improve their experience, do not expect them to improve the customer experience. If you do not empower them and align them with your customer-centric efforts, do not expect to succeed in your transformation efforts. In addition, whether your organization is a huge ship or a fishing boat, you must lead it to the coast with agility.

While the first four points are the smart work that requires thinking hard, building a culture that can adapt to the ever-growing customer needs and expectations is the hard work that your customer experience management efforts cannot succeed without.

Which of those SMART activities are you doing to crack the customer experience management code?  What else are you doing?

Mohamad El-Hinnawi is Partner-Experience Management and Digital Practice at New Metrics, focusing on research, development,  and delivery of Customer Experience Management Frameworks. Within his scope of work, Mohamad covers Customer Experience strategy and transformation, Voice of Customer program design, Customer Journey Mapping, Touchpoint optimization, and Employee Experience serving the Public Sector, Banking, Telecommunications, Retail, Hospitality, Healthcare, and Automotive industries.