The human experience encompasses the entirety of interactions a person has with your organization -and your industry- regardless of channel used to deliver the interaction. Experiences delivered across multiple channels that have not been designed as a single cohesive experience are disjointed and confusing. In a commercial environment, this results in a poor customer experience. In government, non-profit, and healthcare, the effect can be devastating with vulnerable populations unable to make use of critical services.
As customer understanding becomes the most powerful sustainable competitive advantage, the comparative study of human societies and cultures and their development has become a core business competency. The ability to conduct qualitative ethnographic research, develop insights based on that research then translate those insights into business strategy is as important as the technology strategy the CTO is driving.
The primary tools for customer journey mapping are analog: whiteboards, butcher paper, post-it notes and markers are sufficient. The problem with these tools is that it is difficult to evolve the map that is created. For a customer journey map to grow with the organization it is necessary to transfer it to a digital medium so it can be built on over time. Unfortunately, there are not many purpose built solutions for moving your map beyond pen and paper.
We are finally acknowledging that technology itself is insufficient to solve problems. But until human behavior becomes a core part of the technology conversation -instead of relegated to user experience or marketing conferences- we are stuck with technology that looks like 2050 and usage and adoption that looks like 1999.
Our hyper-focus on the snippet, the blurb and the micro-moment is causing us to lose something. Entrepreneurs and companies quit trying to solve the hard problems. Solutions to hard problems are not easily communicated. They are not easily pitched. They are hard to sell. But those are the problems worth solving. They are complex. Likewise, the solutions are complex.
We are in the middle of massive business, political and societal shifts. The situation goes beyond mere change. Change implies evolution in a predictable direction that can planned for and adapted to. The shifts we are experiencing are volatile, full of rapid, explosive, and sometimes random shifts coming from often unexpected directions.
Marketing has the biggest impact on an organization when it does four things:
- Understand value
- Create value
- Deliver value
- Communicate value
All others aspects of marketing flow from doing the work necessary to understand and creating value for your customers.
Automated full lifecycle customer engagement has become a necessity and not a luxury. Even small companies without the staff or money for a big enterprise system need the ability to monitor their brand and industry, automatically convert website visitors to email marketing candidates to sales opportunities and provide live, real-time sales support.
Almost every marketing related article I read over the last month focused on two key assertions:
- Technology is king and companies are investing heavily in technology in 2016
- Content is king and companies are investing heavily in content creation in 2016
Where is all that content going to come from?
If marketing organizations are staffing up with software developers and platform managers, who is going to develop the content?
We encourage organizations to take a holistic approach when designing their customers end-to-end experience. When we approach a project in a holistic way we are attempting to understand every factor that could potentially affect a customers perception of the experience.
To help illustrate the concept of designing holistically, let's take a look at some elements of the customer journey:
As consumers, we are confronted by an overwhelming variety sameness. Similar (or even identical) products and services with differences that only the experts see or care about.
As companies, we face incredibly fierce competition. Barriers to getting new products to market are incredibly low. The cost to develop new products, both physical and digital, has never been lower. The advantages of new features are short-lived and quickly copied. The result is price or feature wars and rapid commoditization.
Google is making a tremendous push for companies to be present in a customers "micro-moments", the small moments where a customer either decides to buy or explores a possible buy, enabled by their mobile device. This concept is great for Google, they sell services that get companies to pay for snippets of attention at the moment when a search for product or service occurs. For companies, a near-sighted focus on micro-moments becomes a race to the bottom in terms of price, loyalty and long-term relationships.
Everything a company does is a service to their customers.
Marketing is a service that provides information that makes customers better at accomplishing their goals.
The sales process is a service, enabling customers to understand the scope of their project, the solutions available and to communicate the options to their team.
The delivery of a product or service is a service. How is the product shipped and what is the packaging like? What is the service kick-off like and how is progress communicated?
The product or service is obviously providing a service, as is supporting a product or service.
The end-of-life of the product is a service. Is it easily disposed of or recycled with minimal effort and environmental impact?
Since all business is service, it's probably time for all companies to invest in service design.