It is common to see that companies leave the customer experience in the hands of areas such as marketing and service. However, this is an integral concept that depends on many factors beyond the commercial.
Thinking about product customization, improvements in customer service processes, or investing in information technologies without understanding the dimensions in which this is developed can lead us to invest in projects that will not generate any change or return on investment.
In this article, we will discuss a Maturity Model developed by Imagineer Customer Experience, specifically designed to help businesses identify the gap between a customer's expected experience and the one they perceive from each dimension.
What is the Customer Experience Maturity Model?
A maturity model is a framework used to evaluate a business, and it sets a quality standard for each dimension and thus allows us to measure progress over time. It is used to identify our current level and generate a roadmap of the practices needed to move to the next level.
When focused on customer experience, it establishes evaluation criteria to support the extent to which our efforts are aligned with customer expectations and motivations. In this way, it determines the differences between what the customer expects and what they receive.
What is Customer Experience?
Experience is a subjective perception of cognitive, affective, emotional, social, or sensory stimuli experienced during moments of truth.
What does this mean? A customer interacting with a business through various touchpoints (advertising, website, social media, product catalogs, sales consultants, among others) will gain a perspective to decide whether what they are experiencing is positive or negative. Although, depending on what the brand wants to represent, there is also the differentiation between the "ordinary" and the "extraordinary."
The experience depends, then, on the moments of truth, the touchpoints, and the brand-generated stimuli. At its core, however, it is a holistic concept that also encompasses everything that enables the experience to happen in the first place.
For example, when we go out to eat at a restaurant, we expect to find parking space, that the table is in a decent location, that there is not too much noise, that the waiter is helpful, that the menu has a variety of options, that the service is adequate, that the food tastes good, that the price is fair and that the payment is fast. If we evaluate only the service and attention, leaving out the availability of parking, the ambiance, the price, and the checkout process, we are only looking at one part of the experience. But for the experience to be enjoyable, there must be harmony among all the elements.
What are the six dimensions of Customer Experience?
There can be different frameworks with a greater or lesser number of dimensions. At Imagineer Customer Experience, we have gathered information from our clients and identified six that a business should consider to focus on customer experience: Business Strategy, People, Process, Data, Digital, and Operations.
Strategies are the short-, medium- and long-term plans followed to meet business objectives. Defining the right path is vital to facing competition and surviving in the market, but it also determines the company's essence.
Delimiting the playing field, identifying the value proposition, and understanding the business model are key activities to achieve the goals; however, customer experience must become a central axis of any strategy to ensure success.
With the evolution of the world and the agility of technology, the standards are now set by customers. Despite this, we still have the power to define where we will direct innovation, design, and improvements and how. A business that sets out to increase sales by improving the customer experience, but has yet to make a clear plan to do so, is destined to lose out to its competition. The answer is more than buying software, conducting market research, or improving a sales/marketing/service process. The solution requires understanding why the experience is being affected and then using the methodology that best fits the customer and business needs.
The experience depends on each type of customer. A decision maker lives it first hand, a prescriber of our products or services can benefit from a partnership with us and give good recommendations to the decision maker. An emotional influencer cares about the decision-maker's experience and advises them according to the experiences they have already had with us.
On the other hand, an internal customer, i.e., an employee of our business, lives his own experience when carrying out his daily tasks. Understanding how they feel and caring about their personal development, generating incentives, helping them to achieve professional goals, and improving their quality of work life, will increase their motivation and productivity, providing a better service and changing the perception that an external customer has about our brand.
A business must be able to identify its customers, know them, support them, and know how to involve them in the business strategies so that an excellent organizational climate and internal customer-external customer relationships generate good results.
Process management places customers at the center of operations. It allows for greater agility in developing daily activities and standardizing tasks to optimize information and resource flows.
A business process is a guide, an orderly sequence of tasks necessary to meet an objective. Having defined processes not only helps reduce costs but also improves performance, visibility, and business control and helps automate, which translates into shorter response times; customers perceive this as quality, so their experience is also affected from the point of view of the user of a product or service.
Data is an essential source of information for decision-making. Internal business data allows you to visualize the current situation and evaluate performance. In this way, it is possible to analyze whether strategies are giving results that bring us closer to or move us away from our objectives while showing indications of weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.
On the other hand, data from our customers allows us to validate assumptions, generate internal discussions and adjust strategies according to market developments over time. For example, if we have a website and analyze the most used and least viewed sections with heat maps, we can redesign the page to have a better user experience when they visit what catches their attention. At the same time, we think about how to generate traffic to those sections that they use less if they are important to us.
Without data, how we communicate with our customers and design our touch points, products, and services are random, and their results are haphazard. For this reason, a process and a technological tool to manage our customers' data and our internal data are necessary to make good decisions.
Today, many of the world's interactions are virtual, and almost all the stimuli our brand generates in a customer depend on a website, social networks, media, or commerce platforms. However, the physical world is also an important space for interaction where sensations are manifested.
When we see a product in a website catalog, request information via WhatsApp, and attend the point of sale, we don't want to repeat the same thing over and over again. We want to be heard, for the communication to be effective, and for it to feel like we are picking up the conversation where we left off.
Fortunately, today some tools allow us to centralize information so that if they write to us via WhatsApp, mail, and social networks, we have a kind of customer file where we can analyze all the interactions they have had with the brand through the different channels, allowing us to generate a seamless and uniform digital and physical experience.
Finally, this dimension concerns the alignment between commercial and operational processes. With harmony between logistics, finance, production, marketing, sales, and service, among others, it is easier for the business to move forward.
Looked at another way, a sale can result from marketing efforts to promote a product that the planning department has identified as a high turnover product. To do this, the purchasing department must acquire the raw materials necessary for production to manufacture it, which requires the budget's release by finance. The distribution center is responsible for delivering it to the customer or point of sale, while the service department attends to the customer for any inconvenience.
From the business point of view, each person has a process with a different objective; from the customer's point of view, there is only a single purchase process. Understanding that all operations must be aligned is crucial to optimizing the customer experience. After all: "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link." - Thomas Reid.
Our model is not intended to be a guide for designing better experiences, for which we have the Customer Experience Design methodology. Instead, it is a previous analysis tool that evaluates the maturity of a business in each of these dimensions to identify the gaps between the experience expected by the customer and the one we can give. In this way, managing a project is easier since we have a better idea of the level at which we are, helping us to define the level we want to reach and the time it will take us according to the availability of our resources. For more information about our Maturity Model, visit our website.